Hormones and the skin

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Young Adulthood

Acne

  • Acne is the term for plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and even the upper arms.
  • Acne affects most teenagers and adults in their 20s and beyond.
  • Adult female acne can be triggered by changes in hormones, ovarian cysts, or pregnancy.
  • Treatment includes oral contraceptives alone or in conjunction with other therapies, and oral medications or topical creams, gels, or lotions with vitamin A derivatives, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics to help unblock the pores and reduce the amount of bacteria.

Hirsutism

  • Is characterized by excessive growth of hair on the female face and body.
  • One in 20 American women is affected.
  • It might be caused by genetics or abnormally high levels of the male hormone androgen in the blood.
  • Treatment includes oral anti-androgens or topical creams to slow hair growth, particularly on the face.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome also can trigger the condition.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

  • An estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of women of childbearing age are affected.
  • It occurs in women who have high levels of the male hormone androgen, with irregular or no menstrual cycle, and who might have had small cysts in their ovaries.
  • Treatment includes oral contraceptives, diabetes medications, and fertility medications.

Adrenal hyperplasia

  • Condition where there is a lack of an enzyme needed by the adrenal gland to make the hormones cortisol and aldosterone, which causes the body to produce more androgen, a type of male hormone.
  • Can cause early appearance of male characteristics in either males or females.
  • Treatment includes the use of oral steroids.

Pregnancy

Melasma

  • Is also known as the mask of pregnancy.
  • Is caused by an overproduction of melanin, a natural substance in the body that gives color to the hair, skin, and eyes, leading to dark patches on the face.
  • Makeup and concealers with white and yellow undertones can be used to cover up the dark patches.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to prevent the further darkening of the skin.
  • Treatment can include topical prescription or over-the-counter products containing hydroquinone, or prescription products containing retinoids, azeleic acid, or hydroxyacids.

Hair care concerns during and after pregnancy

Excessive hair growth 

  • Hair can grow thick on the face and chest.
  • Caused by the overproduction of hormones during pregnancy.
  • Tweezing, waxing, threading, or shaving can remove excess hair.
  • Treatment also can include laser hair removal by a dermatologist.

Temporary shedding of hair 

  • Called telogen effluvium.
  • Caused by drop in hormones following pregnancy.
  • Excess hair that grew during pregnancy is lost.
  • No treatments available; hair is returning to its normal growth cycle.

Menopause

Skin care changes

  • Thinning of the skin with loss of elasticity and increased sensitivity due to lower levels of estrogen.
  • Treatment options include prescription retinoids or over-the-counter products such as retinol, alpha-hydroxy acids, antioxidants, or peptides.

Androgenetic alopecia

  • Hair loss in which hair thins on the vertex or top of the head and hair becomes finer in texture.
  • It's primarily a genetic condition.
  • Treatment options include topical minoxidil and other therapies, including oral medications that can block the effect of androgens, such as hormone replacement therapy and spironolactone.

See your dermatologist for successful diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions affected by hormones.

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