Hormones and Skin conditions: The complete guide

  6 minutes
hormones and skin conditions

As we go about our daily routine, our bodies have their own carefully scripted processes that involve chemicals produced within our bodies. Today, we focus on one particular kind of chemical popularly known as Hormones.

What are hormones?

Hormones are primary regulatory substances produced by our body and transported to different organs and systems to maintain and control activities. Unfortunately, despite all the excellent work they do, they gain a bad reputation when people of different ages blame them for bodily changes. 

Teenagers whining about their hormonal acne during puberty or women 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, making them a vital part of our lives. However, a hormonal imbalance can mean more bad news than good news for your body. 

Can a hormonal imbalance cause skin problems?

In particular, for the skin, a hormonal imbalance can mean drastic changes, especially since it will be visible.

  • These imbalances can be caused either by medical conditions like hyper or hypothyroidism (overactive or underactive thyroid functioning), diabetes or through our lifestyles like eating disorders and stress.
  • Hormonal fluctuations naturally occur during certain stages of our lives, like puberty, and pregnancy and menopause in women. And the skin conditions are the most significant indicators of these changes. Hormonal acne, dry skin, dark circles, and excessive hair growth or hair loss are some skin-related conditions that show up.

 1. Hormonal acne

The acne that we commonly blame on ‘hormones’ generally occurs because of the deficit of certain hormones or the excess of other hormones. For instance, hormonal acne is attributed to low levels of a hormone called oestrogen and progesterone. However, an increased level of androgens (like testosterone) are also a trigger for hormonal acne breakouts.

How does it occur?

This occurs because this fluctuation in hormones can trigger oil-producing glands on our skin called sebaceous glands. They trigger them to produce excessive amounts of sebum, which leads to clogging of the pores, infection and inflammation. These breakouts can be seen on the face, back or chest.

PCOS

This is often triggered in women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), 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. 

When to see a doctor?

Upon seeing such symptoms of hormonal imbalance, the best thing to do would be to consult an endocrinologist and a dermatologist immediately. This is the best way to diagnose the imbalance and identify which hormones are causing issues. Following this, you can begin healing your skin conditions.

2. Hormonal dry skin

While excess androgens can cause oily skin, the deficiency of oestrogen and its different forms can lead to the opposite problem. Dry, itchy skin and skin rashes are a clear sign of a decrease in thyroid activity, too, known as hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism leads to an overall decrease in blood circulation through our system, meaning that the skin pores are often deprived of necessary nutrients and oxygen.

Ageing and hormones

This is a leading cause of dry, scaly skin, especially in older people. This can lead to premature ageing and the appearance of fine lines and even wrinkles.

Many women complain of dry 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 oestrogen slowly begins to decrease. This is often why people warn you to watch out for dry skin when you start to show symptoms of menopause.

Menopause

Since oestrogen is the hormone primarily responsible for triggering the production of collagen and oils necessary for your skin, its absence means a decrease in the retention of moisture and hydration. All of this results in dry skin and even skin rashes in extreme cases.

When to see a doctor

The best solution to maintaining your skin is to consult a skin care specialist about developing a skin care routine suitable for your skin. For dry skin, proper moisturising and cleansing can ensure healthier-looking skin despite any hormonal imbalances.

3. Skin pigmentation 

Melasma

One skin condition that baffles many pregnant women is the phenomenon known as “the pregnancy mask”. Patches of dark pigmentation, mainly on the face, begin to appear when a woman is in the middle of her pregnancy or experiences severe hormonal imbalances.

This is because excess oestrogen in the system can sometimes trigger a condition called melasma. This is when the melanin-producing cells are triggered to produce excessive amounts of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin a dark colour.

This condition is scientifically termed ‘hyperpigmentation’ and is very evident on the skin. Many people suffer from uneven pigmentation on their faces because of this, which often leads to a blow in your self-confidence, and emotional stress usually follows.

Stress and Anxiety

The unfortunate fact is that emotional mood swings and stress is just another contributor to hormonal imbalance and may worsen existing skin conditions. 

Treatments for pigmentation

The existing solutions to this particular skin condition range from prescription-based topical medications and even cosmetic procedures like chemical peeling and laser light therapy.

When to see a doctor

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 skin care specialists. Always remember that damage to the skin can rarely be rectified to its original form, so caution is always recommended.

4. Skin Discoloration

As previously stated, it is oestrogen and progesterone, which are the principal culprits for skin discolouration. 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 producing melanin, and trigger them to make more of it than necessary.

This, in turn, causes the appearance of random discolourations across the skin, especially in areas where melanocytes are more active usually, like the face. This hormonal imbalance usually occurs either during pregnancy, menopause or when artificially induced through the consumption of birth-control pills or hormone replacement therapy(HRT).

When to see a doctor

These treatments and medications have the side effect of influencing the different hormone levels in our body. So, it is always advisable to consult a dermatologist about any medicine you take and familiarise yourself with the possible side effects before consuming them.

Other causes for skin issues

You can do things to maintain a healthy life and try to control your hormonal issues, thus reducing the chances of hormonal skin issues.

  • The lifestyle you follow has a significant impact on the skin. The habit of smoking, for example, is harmful to the skin because it produces free radicals. These then break down the constituents of skin cells, making them vulnerable to infection.
  • 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.

How to prevent hormonal skin conditions

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 pregnancy and puberty, it is sometimes in our hands to take care of our bodies and health in general.

  • This can be achieved with a robust lifestyle
  • Minimal stress
  • A healthy diet can supplement the nutrients needed for good skin health, like greens and fruits and exercise.
  • Since hormonal changes can cause weight gain, which results in stretch marks, exercise will go a long way in solving the issue.

The silver lining

Our bodies need to be taken care of and attain a balance. Until then, it is best if we learn to embrace the changes that our bodies go through and deal with these issues with the help of experts.

Never forget to love your body for all it does!

FAQ’s

1. Which hormones affect the skin?

Oestrogen, androgens, thyroid, cortisol, insulin, progesterone and testosterone are hormones that affect the skin and cause issues!

2. Which doctor should I visit for a hormonal imbalance?

If you suspect that you have a hormonal imbalance, then you should visit an endocrinologist.

3. What is the best vitamins to take for a hormonal imbalance?

This will entirely depend on the kind of imbalance that you have. But in general, it is helpful to keep your vitamin B12 and D3 levels in check.

4. Does hormonal acne ever go away?

Yes. It does. With proper care and treatment, your acne does not have to be a lifelong condition.

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!

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Author

Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.

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