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  • Hormones and the Skin Q & A

    As seen in CLEO Magazine, Australia, July 2012

    Do hormones affect our skin? How?
    Absolutely! There are dozens of hormones that have major effects on the body, including our skin. Scientists are still discovering new hormones and new actions of known ones when it comes to effects on skin. The major hormones that affect skin are the sex steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, and growth hormones. The key is balance when it comes to hormones. When there is an imbalance, effects are seen on skin, hair and nails. For example, too much thyroid hormone and you get moist, smooth skin. Too little and you get rough, dry skin. Too much or too little and you can get alopecia. Too much of the androgen (male) hormones increase skin oiliness and face/body hair. This can lead to acne in both men and women. Too little of the female hormones (estrogens and progestogens) and you get thin, dry skin with reduced collagen and elastin, something that is seen in menopausal women.

    Why do we sometimes get pimples in the same spot around the time of our periods?
    Many adult women get a pimple around the time of ovulation, typically a couple weeks before the start of their period. This is most likely due to the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that is seen at this time. This hormone can trigger sebaceous gland activity, leading to increased oil production and the perfect environment for an invading bacteria to cause inflammation. Hormonal breakouts are quite common and can be controlled.

    What can be done to stop this kind of skin problem?

    Some methods of birth control can help regulate the hormones that lead to oil production and breakouts. But a good skin care regimen will do wonders for breakout-prone skin. Using mild cleansers that don’t strip skin oils is a good first step, since many people believe that the more squeaky-clean they are the better. Using harsh soaps to remove all oils can actually cause skin to produce even more oil, in an attempt to self-regulate. Next you want to moisturize with oil-free moisturizers to maintain hydration without clogging pores. And using spot treatments with Sulfur and Salicylic Acid are great ways to control breakouts without causing unwanted inflammation, which can worsen the problem. Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) are also good ways to manage adult acne and skin aging at the same time.

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