Skin and Hormone…The Good Looks Connection
Skin is one of the body's largest organs. It forms a protective physical barrier, regulates temperature and provides a route for elimination of fluids like sweat and oils. There is not a 'standard normal' state for the skin, as it changes with age and pass through different phases.
The skin can also change with the outside climate, or with sickness or ailments.Hormones are primary regulatory substances produced by our body and transported to different organs and systems to maintain and control activities.
The most prominent changes that can be seen on the skin are caused by changes in hormonal levels. Hormonal levels significantly change during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Apart from this, skin responds to a variety of hormones through different receptors.
What causes acne in puberty?
Sebaceous glands, like many other parts of the skin, have receptors which are influenced by sex hormones. These glands are affected most dramatically by androgens (male sex hormones like testosterone) present in both sexes.
These androgens increase the production of sebum during puberty in both sexes.
When there are, more androgens binding to the receptors on the sebaceous glands, more sebum is produced.
This excessive sebum can combine with dead skin cells from within the pore, causing a blockage. This blockage of the pore can trap all the excess sebum being produced and manifest as acne.
These sebum-filled pores are the ideal place for bacteria to live-particularly P. acnes, which love to colonize these pores and further worsen and cause inflammatory acne.
Acne (acne vulgaris) is one of the most frequently reported skin ailments connected to the menstrual cycle. Period-related hormonal breakouts are very common in the perimenstrual phase.
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Women and people with polycystic ovarian syndrome are more likely to have acne, as well as excess hair growth and female pattern hair loss.
Some people see a reduction in acne breakouts after using hormonal birth control.
This is exactly why oral contraceptives are sometimes used to treat acne.
Not all acne is related to menstrual or hormonal cycles.
Acne affects people of all sexes and all ages. Genetics, diet and bouts of stress can also influence acne, but more research is needed here.
Skin changes in pregnancy attributed to hormone
During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen and progesterone stimulate pigment cells in the body causing an increase in melanin stimulating hormone (MSH) from the anterior pituitary gland. This increase in MSH leads to darker moles, darker nipples and vulva and can also result in a condition called MELASMA.
Melasma is a hyperpigmentation of the skin due to the overproduction of melanin by pigment cells called melanocytes.
This discoloration commonly occurs on the forehead, upper lip and cheeks. Melasma is directly stimulated and worsened by UV exposure. It is advisable to avoid sun exposure and use a physical sunscreen if one has melasma.
Pregnancy-induced melasma is benign and can resolve postpartum. However, if severe, prescription creams and procedures may be necessary to eliminate the hyperpigmentation.
During pregnancy, the spider veins and deeper engorged veins occur because of increased venous pressure in the lower legs during pregnancy and leaky valves affected by increased estrogen.
Skin changes during menopause
Perimenopause refers to the period before menopause when a female's ovaries gradually begin producing less estrogen. Perimenopausal skin conditions include an increase in rosacea from flushing and overall aging of the skin (lack of elasticity, dullness and volume shifts).
Estrogen increases collagen and thickness of the skin, therefore the decrease in estrogen during menopause causes significant dehydration due to an increase in trans-epidermal water loss.
As a result, women feel drier and appear more wrinkled. Furthermore, the collagen depletion leads to a loss of skin elasticity and firmness. As we age, the skin has a reduced ability to handle oxidative damage like sun exposure.
During this period, we see an increase in pigmentation issues like age spots, or solar lentigos.
Role of hormone on male skin
Higher levels of testosterone are the reason for the relatively late appearance of fine lines and decreased elasticity in a man's skin. As with most hormones, testosterone levels will eventually decline with age. When testosterone levels are healthy, the hormone contributes to natural skin moisture via increased oil production and supports optimal collagen production levels for strong, smooth skin. As testosterone levels fall, the skin loses elasticity and starts to form thicker folds and deeper wrinkles.
To conclude, getting a glowing, beautiful and clear skin is not always possible with a skincare regimen and healthy diet and exercise if your hormones do not cooperate. When nothing works, talk to your skin doctor to recommend you to an endocrinologist.
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