Hormones are responsible for many different functions in our body, and that includes the many functions related to our skin. Hormone imbalance is a significant contributor to skin issues. It’s amazing (and a little stressful) how many conditions and concerns can pop up surrounding our skin; and when staying on top of it all gets difficult, it can be a huge blow to both health and confidence.
Fortunately, there are treatments and therapies for hormone imbalance-related skin concerns. The first step is recognizing that there may be a hormonal situation in the first place, so knowing about common symptoms is important.
Here are 5 hormone imbalance-related skin concerns:
One of the most common skin concerns that can easily be linked to hormones is acne – and it doesn’t just affect teenagers or adolescents. Fluctuating sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone can be largely responsible for hormone-induced acne, which is why it’s often linked to puberty and menstruation.
When estrogen or progesterone fluctuates during the menstrual cycle, flare ups can occur. Additionally, spikes in testosterone (something that can happen to both men and women) can stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands in your face, which your skin may try to combat with cystic breakouts.
That said, acne can be caused by a variety of factors, so ways to tell if there is a hormone imbalance is a probable cause include:
- Flare ups that coincide with menstruation
- “T-Zone” flare ups (blemishes on the forehead, nose and chin)
- Recurring spots for breakouts (often around cheekbones, chin and jawline)
- Deep, painful, cystic breakouts
While facials and skincare treatments can help a great deal with acne, it is only one piece of the solution. An integrative approach which includes getting to the root of possible hormonal causes can nip stubborn cases in the bud and lead to a more sustainably clear complexion.
In addition to oily, acne-ridden skin, hormones can also cause problems in the other direction and lead to unpleasant dryness.
Just like a spike in sex hormones can lead to too much oil, a decline can lead to not enough. Since hormones like estrogen and testosterone stimulate the oil glands, a lack of them will cause dry, itchy, rough or even flaky skin.
Our thyroid also plays a major role in the moisture levels of our skin, so excessive dryness or conditions like eczema could possibly point to hypothyroidism (a common situation caused by aging, following pregnancy or simply a malfunction) or adrenal imbalances, so there are a lot of possibilities that would need to be explored.
As with acne, though dry skin can be “fixed” on a superficial level with facials, exfoliants, moisturizers and other skin products or treatments, it’s not enough for lasting results. Addressing the core problem is just as important as with acne to make sure it isn’t just something that will keep returning and possibly getting worse.
Fine lines and wrinkles
Developing fine lines and wrinkles in our face and other areas of skin is a natural part of aging, but one of the reasons for that is linked to hormone imbalance.
As mentioned earlier, estrogen and progesterone are largely responsible for the production of collagen with keeps the skin strong and supple. They are also a big part of the production of elastin which is what maintains the young and healthy appearance everyone aims to maintain.
Over time, elastin and collagen aren’t produced and replaced at the rate needed to maintain flexibility and firmness, leading to wrinkles, sagging and lines. This can be improved through preventative or restorative treatments by licensed aestheticians, dermatologists, endocrinologists, and naturopathic physicians.
Knowing ahead of time that hormones are such a critical part in skin elasticity, however, can help to avoid premature or excessive lines and wrinkles.
There are many different causes for skin rashes like allergies, irritation or various types of skin damage. That said, hormone imbalance is also a possible cause and should be taken into consideration when trying to determine the root.
One specific condition that can be spotted from regular rashes is autoimmune progesterone dermatitis (ADP). This is characterized by a recurring rash that coincides with the menstrual cycle (typically during the second half when progesterone levels rise).
Rashes have also been known to be a common symptom experienced during menopause because of a domino effect starting with a drop in estrogen and leading to a lack of collagen, causing dry and itchy skin.
Dr. Sarah Bennett, the naturopathic physician at Natural Med Doc in Arizona, handles abnormal skin problems with patients regularly:
“Nobody likes being the victim of a rash. They’re itchy, painful, visible and sometimes embarrassing. The good news about rashes that have hormonal causes is that they will typically clear up along with all of the other symptoms as the imbalance is treated, especially in cases of menopause. It’s important to always bring up strange or recurring rashes, though, because over-the-counter allergy medication won’t help with hormone imbalances and you’ll only suffer for longer than you need to.”
Rashes are one of the body’s loudest ways of telling us that something is wrong with our skin. It’s important to listen to that and investigate all possible causes.
Though dark circles under your eyes often imply a lack of sleep, they can be stubborn and persistent, and falling asleep can sometimes be difficult even when you’re exhausted.
This can be linked to cortisol (AKA the “fight or flight” stress hormone), something your body produces more of when you are in particularly high periods of stress. While cortisol helps you and your body cope with the heightened stress levels, it can also make it more difficult to fall asleep and achieve the rest needed to make your dark circles go away.
While dark circles may not seem like a serious condition or concern, it’s important to pay attention to it because it’s your body’s way of showing you that you may have more serious concerns. Getting the right amount of rest is critical in making sure your entire body functions properly.
Skin concerns are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to complications that can be caused by hormone imbalance. However, they’re some of the most noticeable, and are often linked to other underlying concerns.
The different parts of the body all work together as one system, so skin concerns like acne, dry skin, wrinkles, rashes and dark undereye circles could easily just be the more visible symptoms and issues being caused by an imbalance.
It’s important to listen to our bodies so that doctors and patients alike are able to pick up on subtle hints that our internal systems need some attention.
Did you learn something new about hormone imbalance-related skin issues today?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
About the author:
Katherine (Tori) Lutz is a graduate of Florida State University and current student at Columbia University. Professionally, she has a great deal of experience in writing, editing, and marketing. She is currently living in Brooklyn, New York, and aspires to be a journalist. Connect with Tori on Instagram.