“Normal” is an epithet we often hear in the context of talking about skin. But from a medical point of view, our skin does not and cannot have a standard normal state. With age, it changes and goes through various states. Hormones are the most important factor affecting the skin at every stage of life. Their effect determines the reaction of the skin to external and internal signals. Let's figure out how it works.
Margarita Gekht, Leading Dermatologist of the Butterfly Children Foundation
What are hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, pituitary gland and pineal gland. Each hormone has a role to play. They are "conductors" of the work of internal organs, influencing both the state of health and the appearance of the skin.
The activity of the following hormones affects the condition of the skin.
They are considered "female" hormones. They help the skin and hair to stay young.
Estrogens affect the thickness and moisture of the skin and are responsible for the formation of wrinkles. They increase glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid, which maintain fluid balance and the structural integrity of the skin. These hormones are also responsible for the production of collagen, which maintains the thickness of the epidermis and allows the skin to remain firm, smooth and hydrated.
The state of the appendages of the skin - hair and nails - also depends on fluctuations in estrogen. For example, the increased hair growth that pleases many pregnant women is due to the increase in estrogen levels, and the sharply falling postpartum and even menopausal estrogen levels cause thinning and hair loss. This sometimes results in clinically significant telogenic hair loss.
These hormones are commonly associated with men, but women also have them, so both sexes experience the effect of changing androgen levels. For example, women may experience hair loss due to elevated androgen levels.
With age, including after menopause, the estrogen-androgen ratio in the body becomes unbalanced, which also leads to changes in the condition of the skin and hair.
Testosterone is the main representative of this group of hormones that increase the production of the sebaceous glands in the pores of the skin.
- coarser hair;
- denser, porous and oily skin;
- later onset of signs of skin aging;
Higher testosterone levels in women are often the cause of unwanted facial hair. At the age of 15-35, when androgens, and in particular testosterone, are actively involved in the production of sebum, women may also experience increased skin oiliness or age-related acne.
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This hormone mediates other hormones and helps regulate testosterone and estrogen levels.
Progesterone affects the skin in several ways:
- controls the level of other hormones;
- reduces the level of cortisol and other stress hormones, resulting in a calming effect on the nervous system.
- promotes healthy sleep, which has a positive effect on skin condition.
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located just above the vocal apparatus. It produces thyroid-stimulating hormone, which affects metabolism, skin hydration, menstrual cycles, weight and cholesterol levels.
Normally, the production of this hormone should be balanced. With an excess of it, the skin can become red, inflamed, and acquire increased moisture. If deficient, dry, rough, rough and inflamed due to dryness and decreased perspiration.
Thyroid dysfunction can also lead to thinning and hair loss.
Have you noticed how the skin breaks down after a few sleepless nights? Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is responsible for this.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol reflexively to help the body deal with stress. However, if high levels of cortisol persist in the body for a long time, acne and red spots appear on the skin. It takes on an uneven hue and texture.
Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the dark, therefore it is also called the "hormone of the night."
This powerful antioxidant neutralizes 24-hour free radical damage in the body and reverses the signs of aging.
© Boy_Anupong / Getty
Basic skin conditions in case of hormonal changes
This problematic skin condition has its roots in the sebaceous glands. From the start of puberty, they produce and secrete increased amounts of sebum, or sebum. The largest amount of sebum is secreted between 15-35 years.
The sebaceous glands, like many functional components of the skin, have receptors that are sensitive to sex hormones. They "suffer" most from testosterone from the androgen group. Androgens increase sebum production during puberty in both sexes. The more androgens bind to receptors on the surface of the sebaceous glands, the more sebum is produced. As a result of the combination of fat with exfoliated cells in the pore of the skin, a complex is formed that causes its blockage. A blocked pore prevents excess sebum from reaching the surface, resulting in acne.
In women, the appearance of acne is also often associated with the phase of the menstrual cycle and, accordingly, the intensity of sebum production. The hormonal changes caused by menstruation often lead to an increase in the amount of inflammatory elements on the skin of the face and body ten days before the "critical days".
In addition, women with higher androgen levels are more likely to suffer from acne. It also promotes excessive facial hair growth, female pattern hair loss, and irregular menstrual periods.
Not all female acne can be caused by the menstrual cycle. They are also triggered by bouts of stress when cortisol affects the sebaceous glands.
Skin pigmentation is familiar to many pregnant women. Throughout pregnancy, the body is characterized by high levels of estrogen. It makes the skin more sensitive to the sun, resulting in dark spots called melasma.
Dry skin and flaking
The decrease in estrogen levels leads to the fact that the skin becomes drier and itchy. This process is observed in patients with dry skin in general, as well as in patients with eczema during an exacerbation of the disease.
The second hormonal cause of sudden dry skin can be a decrease in the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone of the thyroid gland.
© Guido Mieth / getty
Is hormone replacement therapy the solution
So, throughout life, the level of hormones in the body can change dramatically, which affects the condition of the skin during each hormonal phase. Hormone replacement therapy may seem like a logical solution to this problem. However, is this tool really able to effectively "tweak" the level of certain hormones to the optimum and preserve the youthfulness and beauty of the skin?
Hormone replacement therapy is a relatively new area in skin care today. Due to the lack of extensive research and side effects, it has not yet become an effective and affordable solution to skin problems. However, studies have shown an increase in skin elasticity, moisture, and thickness in women using topical or oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT). So, in the composition of the combined contraceptive pills, synthetic estrogen is present in doses that suppress ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, then ovarian androgens are not produced, which means that the production of sebum and, accordingly, the amount of acne on the skin decreases.
How to care for skin with hormonal imbalance without using hormonal agents
Deterioration of the skin during menopause
Today, there are many “non-hormonal” skincare options available to help make dry, itchy, and thinned skin smoother and fresher. So, during menopause, when estrogen levels decrease, and collagen production slows down, it is important to use products with ingredients that stimulate collagen production in the skin. These include:
- retinoids, including retinol, which are part of the vitamin A family;
- vitamin C, which also stimulates collagen production, brightens the skin and evens its tone;
- peptides and hyaluronic acid that increase the production of elastin, collagen, effectively filling and strengthening dry skin.
To control inflammation and keep acne under control, use anti-inflammatory ingredients such as oat extract, white and green tea, horse chestnut, licorice, bisabolol, ginkgo biloba, salicylic and glycolic acids, and niacinamide.
Pre-cleanse the skin gently with surfactant-free products (sodium lauryl sulfate and its derivatives).
Dryness and flaking
With dryness, which develops due to a deficiency of thyroid-stimulating hormone, estrogen and progesterone, the skin needs essential fatty acids, phytosterols, ceramides and ceramides. They protect the skin from oxidative damage that causes flaking.
Health and safety
Many “experts” on health promise to carry out a “hormonal reset” of the body and improve the condition of the skin through diet or supplements. Most often, such "specialists" have nothing to do with medicine. You should not believe their promises and buy "magic" ointments and tablets, and for the problematic skin conditions described above, you should consult a dermatologist or endocrinologist.>