Premenstrual acne affects an estimated 70 percent of women, according to the Nemours Foundation, with symptoms typically beginning one week to several days before the onset of menstruation. That's why it's important to develop a detailed plan to revamp and repair your skin before an important first date, a meeting at work or a holiday party. Because premenstrual acne is a recurrent condition, prevention of it is easier and more effective than treatment of individual pimples.
Wash your face twice daily with a mild soap and warm water. Scrubbing your skin or using hot water can cause skin irritation and worsen acne. Do not squeeze or pop blackheads or whiteheads. Apply moisturizer as needed, and follow your normal skin-care routine.
Apply an over-the-counter acne cream containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to individual acne lesion to encourage healing. Using 5 percent tea tree oil on acne spots also is effective, according to the University of Michigan Health System.
Reschedule stressful events, such as job interviews or routine dental appointments, for the week following your period. Stress affects levels of androgen hormones in the body and might play a role in premenstrual acne, explains the Acne Resource Center Online. Sleeping at least eight hours at night and engaging in a stress-reducing activity, such as meditation or yoga, also can help lower your stress level.
Try oral contraceptive pills to control premenstrual acne and prevent new breakouts. Birth control pills containing both progestin and ethinyl estradiol are very effective at reducing the frequency and severity of hormonal acne. Side effects of birth control pills might include nausea, weight gain, mood swings, changes in menstrual flow and swollen or tender breasts.
Ask your doctor about taking androgen receptor blockers, such as spironolactone and cyproterone acetate. These medications reduce your levels of androgens, male sex hormones associated with premenstrual acne. In fact, a study published in the January 2008 issue of the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" found that 85 percent of women showed a complete or near complete recovery from acne lesions after taking a combination of spironolactone and an oral contraceptive containing both drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Side effects of anti-androgen medications include breast tenderness and irregular periods.