Skin Changes that may be Caused by Hormones

Hormones.  When it comes down to it, there seems to be little that we can’t blame them for.  Trouble with your weight, mood, or sleep?  There’s a chance that a hormone imbalance is to blame.  These finicky chemical elements that are so notorious for making teenagers go crazy during puberty don’t stop wreaking havoc after high school graduation.  For women in particular, changing hormone levels can lead to all sorts of unpleasant side effects, including changes in skin throughout each stage of life.

Whether you are in your child bearing years or hitting menopause, there are different ways that many of your body’s key hormones will fluctuate and present new skin challenges.  Let’s take a look at some major players such as estrogen and testosterone and how each may have an impact on your complexion.

Estrogen and Skin Changes

There are many functions of estrogen, most of which we associate with a woman’s reproductive health.  This hormone is, of course, responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle and is a major factor in fertility, but its many other purposes include protecting bone health and keeping cholesterol in control. Not to mention, the incredible impact that fluctuating levels of estrogen can have on the skin throughout a woman’s lifetime. 

Estrogen has a major impact on skin thickness, smoothness, and moisture.  Young women enjoy increased glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and higher levels of collagen production that help maintain their skin’s youthful fullness and hydration.  However, as a woman ages and estrogen levels begin to decrease, skin loses its elasticity and plumpness, leading many to seek out synthetic alternatives to GAGs and collagen.

During pregnancy, hormonal activity spikes, and a form of estrogen known as estriol takes over.  While this process is helping mother and baby throughout the prenatal months, it’s also known to affect skin.  Some women develop a “glow” with pregnancy, others breakout, and some experience pigment changes.  Melasma, a condition resulting in darker pigmentation of brown or gray in areas such as the cheeks, nose and forehead, is directly attributable to hormones and so common during pregnancy that is often referred to as a “pregnancy mask.”

Testosterone and Skin Changes

What many think of as the “male” hormone is not exclusive to men.  Women have testosterone too, but it far smaller quantities, and just like estrogen, these hormone levels can fluctuate.  The collection of male hormones, of which testosterone is the most well-known, are called androgens.  And while women have these hormones for good reason, an imbalance of them can lead to all sorts of unwanted problems such as hair loss.  In skin, an overabundance of androgens can ramp up sebum production, making skin oily and contributing to adult acne.

In addition to estrogen and testosterone, other hormones, such as those released from the thyroid gland may also lead to skin troubles.  Additionally, medications, genetics, environment, and more all also play very large roles in the health and appearance of skin.  Determining exactly what may be causing your own skin woes is an investigation best tackled with the help of a board-certified dermatologist, who can also guide you through the most appropriate and effective treatment options.

For Baton Rouge or Lafayette patients who are concerned by hormone-related skin changes, call Dermasurgery Center, and request an appointment with one of our physicians who can help get your skin back to its normal, healthy state.