Acne: hormonal concepts and therapy

Clin Dermatol. Sep-Oct 2004;22(5):419-28. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2004.03.010.


Acne vulgaris is the most common skin condition observed in the medical community. Although we know that hormones are important in the development of acne, many questions remain unanswered regarding the mechanisms by which hormones exert their effects. Androgens such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and testosterone, the adrenal precursor dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), estrogens such as estradiol, and other hormones, including growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), may be important in acne. It is not known whether these hormones are taken up from the serum by the sebaceous gland, whether they are produced locally within the gland, or whether a combination of these processes is involved. Finally, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which these hormones exert their influence on the sebaceous gland have not been fully elucidated. Hormonal therapy is an option in women with acne not responding to conventional treatment or with signs of endocrine abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acne Vulgaris / physiopathology*
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sebaceous Glands / physiopathology
  • Somatomedins / physiology


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Hormones
  • Somatomedins
  • Human Growth Hormone