When we got about our daily routine activities like commuting to work or while cooking, little do we realize that chemicals produced within our bodies are writing a script of their own, which is to be followed by the various organs and their functions. These chemicals are known as Hormones.
Hormones are major regulatory substances produced by our body and transported to different organs and systems to maintain and control activities(1). Unfortunately, despite all the good work they do, they gain some bad reputation when people of different ages blame them for bodily changes.
The teenager who curses their hormonal acne during puberty, or the old woman complaining of hormone-spurred dry skin during menopause aren’t necessarily wrong.
But there are always two sides to a coin, and hormones have several functions in metabolism, growth, reproduction and even mood control that make it a vital part of our lives. However, hormonal imbalance can mean more bad news than good news for your body.
Can hormone imbalance cause Skin problems?
For the skin, in particular, hormonal imbalance can mean drastic changes especially since it would be visible. These imbalances can be caused either by medical conditions like hyper or hypothyroidism (overactive or underactive thyroid functioning)(2), diabetes or through our actions like eating disorders and even stress.
Apart from these, hormonal imbalance naturally occurs during certain stages of our lives, like puberty, and pregnancy and menopause in women. And the skin conditions are the biggest indicators of these changes. Hormonal acne, dry skin, dark circles and either excessive hair growth or hair loss are some of the skin related conditions that show up.
Upon seeing such symptoms of hormonal imbalance, the best thing to do would be to immediately consult a dermatologist. This is the best way to diagnose the imbalance and identify which hormones are causing issues. This greatly helps in healing the skin conditions.
What causes hormonal acne?
The acne that we commonly blame on ‘hormones’ in general is specific to the deficit of certain hormones or the excessive state of other hormones. For instance, hormonal acne is attributed to low levels of a hormone called estrogen and progesterone. However, suddenly increased level of androgens (like testosterone) is also a trigger for hormonal acne breakouts.
This occurs because these excessive hormones or the deficiency can trigger oil-producing glands on our skin called sebaceous glands(3). This triggers them to produce excessive amounts of sebum (oily substance) which makes the pores vulnerable to infection and clogging, which is visible as pimples or hormonal acne breakouts on our faces, backs or even chests.
This is often triggered in women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)(4), hyperthyroidism or those consuming birth control pills in particular. The reason for this is the excessive presence of androgen that they create, and this form of testosterone can trigger excessive sebum production. We simply know this as oily skin that is all the more prone to developing acne.
Can hormone imbalance cause skin rash?
While excess androgens can cause oily skin, the deficiency of estrogen and its different forms can lead to the opposite problem. Dry, itchy skin and skin rashes are a clear sign of a decrease in the thyroid activity too, known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism leads to an overall decrease in the circulation of blood through our system, meaning that the skin pores are often deprived of necessary nutrients and oxygen(5).
This is a leading cause for dry scaly skin, especially in older people. This can lead to premature aging and appearance of fine lines and even wrinkles. This may soon be the reason why people will blame hormones for aging too.
Many women complain of drier and itchy skin as they age and the reason for this is often natural. As women age, leading to menopause, the body’s production of estrogen slowly begins to decrease(6). This is often the reason why people warn you to watch out for dry skin when you begin to show symptoms of menopause.
Since estrogen is the hormone primarily responsible for triggering the production of collagens and oils necessary for good skin, its absence means decreasing retention of moisture and hydration as well. All these combined results in dry skin, and skin rashes in more extreme cases.
However, all hope is not lost because the aging woman is one of the most targeted by the pharmaceutical and ‘cosmeceutical’ industries. So there are numerous products on the offer for help.
The best solution to maintaining your skin would be to consult a skincare specialist to develop a skincare routine, suitable for your skin. For dry skin, in particular, proper moisturizing and cleansing can ensure healthier looking skin despite any hormonal imbalances.
Which hormone causes Skin pigmentation?
One skin condition that baffles many pregnant women is the phenomenon known as “the pregnancy mask”. A darker shade of skin, mainly on the face, begins to appear when a woman is in the middle of her pregnancy or experiences severe hormonal imbalance.
This is because excess estrogen in the system can sometimes trigger a condition called melasma. This is when the melanin-producing cells are triggered to produces excessive amounts of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin a dark color(7).
This condition is scientifically termed “Hyperpigmentation”, and is one that is very evident on the skin. Many people suffer from uneven pigmentation on their faces because of this, and this often leads to a blow in your self-confidence and emotional stress often follows. The unfortunate fact is that emotional mood swings and stress is just another contributor to hormonal imbalance and may worsen existing skin conditions.
The existing solutions to this particular skin condition range from questionable topical medications containing harsh chemicals like hydroquinone and even cosmetic procedures like chemical peeling and laser light therapy(8).
The seriousness and permanence of such procedures make it mandatory to go forward with them only if it is approved and conducted by qualified experts, like dermatologists or skincare specialists. Always remember that damage to the skin can rarely be rectified to its original form, so caution is always recommended.
Which hormone causes Skin Discoloration?
As previously stated, it is estrogen and progesterone which are the major culprits for skin discoloration. Rather, it is mostly in excessive amounts that they cause more harm than good. They come in contact with melanocytes, which are cells responsible for the production of melanin, and trigger them to produce more of it than necessary(9).
This, in turn, causes the appearance of random discolorations across the skin, especially in areas where melanocytes are more active usually, like the face. This hormonal imbalance usually occurs either during pregnancy or menopause, or when artificially induced through consumption of birth-control pills or hormone replacement therapy(HRT)(10).
These treatments and medications have a side effect of influencing the different hormone levels in our body. So it is always advisable to consult a dermatologist about any treatment you take, and familiarizing yourself with the possible side effects before consuming them.
What are the reasons behind hormonal acne?
It may be obvious at this point that one of the main reasons behind hormonal acne, or adult acne in specific, is a hormonal imbalance and the excessive sebum production that results from it. Even in adults, excess oil on the skin merely opens it up for chances of infection and clogging of pores. This inevitably leads to the formation of pimples and hormonal acne.
Apart from this, there are additional reasons which adults can’t necessarily blame on hormones. The lifestyle you follow has a great impact on the skin. The habit of smoking, for example, is harmful to the skin because it produces free radicals that then break down the constituents of skin cells, making them vulnerable to infection(11).
Additionally, food habits have an impact too. Although oily junk food is often blamed for skin conditions like acne, even dairy products tend to have a flaring effect on acne. This is because dairy is said to possess certain hormones which can react with our system to trigger sebaceous glands and cause acne(12).
In a general perspective, hormones are the antagonists in many stories of skin conditions. This is only if the system is led to having an imbalance of hormones. Although sometimes this is natural, like with pregnancy and puberty, it is at times in our hands to take care of our bodies and health in general.
This can be achieved with a robust lifestyle with minimal stress and a healthy diet that can supplement the nutrients needed for good skin health, like greens and fruits and also exercise.
Since hormonal changes can cause weight gain, which results in stretch marks, exercise will go a long way in solving the issue. Until then, it is best if we learn to embrace the changes that our bodies go through and deal with the issues with the help of experts.
Hormone imbalance acting out on your skin? Don’t let this steal your glow! Download the CureSkin App now by clicking here to get a consultation. It’s easy, fast and affordable!