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Impact of Hormones on the Skin - Changes in Each Phase and Their Management

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Many factors influence the overall quality of the skin. However, hormones play a major role. To learn more about it, read the article below.

Written by

Dr. Saranya. P

Medically reviewed by

Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Published At January 27, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 27, 2023

Introduction:

All the hormones produced by the body do not affect the skin's overall health. Only a few hormones have a considerable effect on the skin, namely progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Skin issues due to hormones occur before the body realizes that changes are happening in our skin. It is true for both men and women.

What Are the Layers of the Skin?

The three layers of the skin are the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous. The epidermis offers protection and helps retain moisture. The dermis has hair follicles, nerves, blood vessels, collagen, and elastin. The subcutaneous layer contains loose connective tissue and fat.

What Are Hormones and Their Functions?

Hormones are chemical substances that perform various functions in the human body. They carry information using blood as a medium to various organs, tissues, skin, and muscles to exert their function. Hormones are produced by endocrine glands (organs that produce various chemicals like hormones, sweat, digestive juice, and tears). These hormones maintain the health and overall well-being of the human body. Any changes (increase or decrease in hormone levels) greatly impact health. Hormones control many processes in the body. Some of them are food metabolism (chemical process), growth and development, regulation of body temperature, reproduction, sexual activity, and the sleep-wake cycle.

What Are the Hormones That Affect the Skin?

Only a few hormones affect the skin, namely:

  1. Progesterone.
  2. Estrogen.
  3. Testosterone.

1) Progesterone:

It is a hormone produced in the ovary (part of the female reproductive system) and plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle and the initial stages of pregnancy. It helps prevent uterine cancer by reducing its thickness.

2) Estrogen:

It is a hormone responsible for the growth and development of the reproductive system. It is produced mainly by ovaries in females and testes in males. Estrogen produces secondary sexual characteristics like the growth of the armpit and pubic hair.

3) Testosterone:

It is a male sex hormone that is produced in the testes. Its various functions include the production of sperm, the growth of facial and pubic hair, muscle strength, and many more in males. In females, it helps in bone growth and muscle strength.

How Do These Hormones Impact Our Skin?

These hormones can change the appearance and quality of the skin. Each plays a different role in maintaining the health of the skin.

Estrogen:

  • Estrogen helps prevent skin aging at certain levels because aging appears during the pre or post-menopause period when estrogen levels decrease.
  • Estrogen helps produce collagen (a primary component of the skin). The collagen level increases when the estrogen level is high, and vice versa. Collagen is responsible for the thickness of the skin.
  • It also maintains moisture in the skin by producing hyaluronic acid (a greasy substance produced naturally in the body) and acid mucopolysaccharides.
  • It produces elastin (a protein in the skin) which maintains the skin's firmness.

Testosterone:

  • This hormone produces oil in the skin.
  • It is present in high concentrations during puberty, making the skin oily at that phase.

Progesterone:

  • It also induces the production of oil similar to testosterone.

How Do These Hormones Produce Oil in the Skin?

These hormones control oil production in the skin by acting on sebaceous glands. These glands produce an oil-like substance called sebum, which helps maintain the skin's health. These hormones act on the gland using receptors that are present in the gland.

How Do the Changes in the Hormone During the Menstrual Cycle Affect the Skin?

In women, skin changes appear throughout the menstrual cycle due to the rise and drop in estrogen levels. It causes changes in skin texture and thickness.

  • During the initial stages of the cycle, the skin looks dull and dehydrated because of the low level of above mentioned three hormones.
  • Between 7 to 11 days, estrogen levels slowly increase, improving skin health and thickness.
  • Between 11 to 14 days, the estrogen level is at its maximum, making the skin appear brighter.
  • Between 17 and 24 days, the estrogen level gets lower, and the level of progesterone increases, increasing oil production and causing a breakout.
  • Between 25 and 28 days, the testosterone will be at its maximum, resulting in heavy breakouts, which are common in all women before their periods.

How Do Hormones Affect the Skin During Pregnancy?

Our body undergoes many changes during pregnancy, including the skin, which are given below.

  • During pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen levels are at maximum, which causes a condition called melasma in many women. The appearance of dark brown patches on the cheek, upper lip, and nose characterize it.
  • It is also called chloasma and generally disappears after pregnancy.
  • It also causes hormonal acne. It is formed due to excess oil production, which interacts with the bacteria in the pores. The various forms of acne are pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts (pouches with liquid below the skin). It appears mostly on the cheek but can also appear on the back, shoulder, and neck.

How Do Hormones Affect the Skin During Menopause?

During menopause, estrogen and collagen levels are lower. It causes an increase in wrinkles and dryness of the skin and a decrease in elasticity and firmness of the skin.

How to Treat or Control the Changes in the Skin?

To control the changes during the menstrual cycle, proper use of moisturizer, drinking plenty of water, and cleansing the pores with proper cleanser would help maintain the skin's health.

Treatment for Hormonal Acne:

Topical Treatment:

  • Before starting the treatment, find out the cause of the breakout.
  • Topical gel and ointments are used to control acne. Some of them are retinoids, Benzoyl peroxide, and Azelaic acid.
  • Retinoids - A vitamin A derivative that promotes cell turnover. Retinoids should be used along with broad-spectrum sunscreen to avoid sun damage.

  • Benzoyl peroxide - Removes bacteria that are present on the skin.

  • Azelaic acid - Removes bacteria and dead cells from the skin.

Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills:

  • It will help if a person has hormonal acne because of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
  • PCOS occurs because of hormonal changes that induce increased oil production and breakout.
  • It is used after other treatments, such as topical creams and antibiotics, has failed.
  • It is advised when contraception is also needed, along with acne treatment.

What Are the Natural Ways to Control Acne?

Diet - It is important to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. It will improve the health of the body and make the skin appear clearer.

Exercise - Exercise every day to control hormonal changes and reduce stress. Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Additionally, getting proper sleep and lowering the stress level will improve the overall health of the skin and the body.

Conclusion:

Whatever the age, hormones greatly impact the skin, making it difficult to understand one's skin. Understanding the root cause of skin problems will make it easy to sort them out; otherwise, contact a dermatologist, who will provide a long-lasting solution.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Dermatology

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