Your hormones not only help to control your menstrual cycle and reproductive function. They also have noticeable impacts on the health of your skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ and plays many essential roles. It provides a physical barrier, regulating temperature, and helping the body detoxify through sweat and oils. The skin is full of estrogen and testosterone receptors. And to a lesser measure, progesterone receptors, fluctuating levels of these hormones throughout the monthly cycle directly impact the skin. It is why we see changes in the skin starting at puberty. These changes and imbalances in sex hormones can often lead to breakouts, infection, and oily or dry skin bouts. They were significantly impacting a woman’s self-confidence.
Acne is one of the most common skin complaints associated with the menstrual cycle. Breakouts are prevalent right before or during the period, but many women suffer from month-long acne.
HERE ARE THE HORMONES THAT MAY BE AT PLAY:
ANDROGENS (AKA MALE SEX HORMONES)
Androgens are the most important of all hormones that regulate sebum production. Sebum is the oil produced from the sebaceous glands that hydrates and protects the skin. However, it is necessary for skin health, excess sebum. Can combine with dead skin cells within a pore creating a blockage. When a pore is blocked, it can trap the excess sebum creating an environment where the bacteria P. acnes can thrive. It is what leads to inflammatory, cystic-type lesions. At puberty, androgens, mainly testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), stimulate sebum production and acne formation in both males and females. Women with high testosterone levels experience more acne month long and not necessarily right before the period. However, acne can still increase acne premenstrually. Acne is a hallmark of a polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and this is the most common cause of elevated testosterone levels in women.
WAYS TO NATURALLY LOWER ANDROGENS:
- Reishi mushroom
- Green tea
- Spearmint tea
- If you think you may have PCOS, it is essential to see a healthcare professional get the appropriate treatment.
High levels of estrogen indirectly reduce acne flare-ups. Right before the luteal phase, estrogen levels are lowest, explaining why some women experience acne premenstrually. Estrogen is known to reduce the size of the sebaceous glands, thereby reducing the amount of sebum produced. It is because estrogen competes with testosterone in the cells that produce sebum, thus reducing testosterone’s activity. Estrogen also reduces circulating free testosterone by increasing the liver’s production of sex hormone-binding globulin. The exact causes of premenstrual acne are still unclear. However, we may see more pronounced testosterone activity in the second half of the cycle when estrogen is lowest, without proper elevations in testosterone.
Acne is a complex concern that can affect all sexes and ages, and not all acne is related to menstrual or hormonal cycling. Genetics, diet, and high levels of stress all contribute to acne as well.
Similar to acne, some women experience oily skin in the premenstrual phase. It explains the same underlying factors: androgens and estrogen. Oily skin is due to increased sebum production, but in this case, it is not leading to clogged pores and breakouts. Of course, oily skin can progress to acne, however. Some women may experience oilier skin during the week preceding menstruation and also during the week of menstruation. Women typically experience the least amount of sebum production and the least oily skin during the week following the highest estrogen period.
The amount of sweat production and release also changes throughout the cycle. When progesterone increases during the luteal phase of the process, basal body temperature rises, and women produce more sweat. The increase in work is seen across the entire body and not only from the skin on the face. Using beauty products on your skin will increase sweat production during premenstrual and contribute to acne flare-ups.
OTHER SKIN CONCERNS
Dry sky, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions may worsen during the premenstrual phase. The reason for these skin changes is still unknown. But it may be due to low estrogen levels or average elevation in progesterone.
OTHER EFFECTS OF ESTROGEN & PROGESTERONE TO YOUR HORMONES
Estrogen plays an essential role in skin health. It increases collagen production, maintaining skin thickness and slowing the creation of fine lines and wrinkles. Estrogen also increases hyaluronic acid production, which helps retain moisture, improves wound healing, and protects barrier function. However, high estrogen levels contribute to period cramps, mood swings, breast tenderness, and other PMS symptoms. These can interfere with sleep, cause elevations in stress, and impair digestion, indirectly impacting skin appearance.
Progesterone’s role in the skin is not entirely clear, but it is important to note that in hormonal contraceptives. The pill, the IUD, the progestins, a synthetic form of progesterone, can trigger acne and other skin problems in some women.
The menstrual cycle’s cyclic hormonal changes have a significant biological influence on the skin and severe emotional ramifications. By tracking skin changes throughout the process, you can determine patterns to identify if there is a hormonal variation or not. It helps determine what strategies may be most effective for managing your concern.
SIMPLE TIPS TO START HEALING YOUR SKIN:
- Use limited & simple products on your skin – check out Well Daily’s skin expert for recommendations.
- Work with a professional to determine the underlying cause of your skin concern.
- Ditch the dairy and sugar, especially for treating acne
- Incorporate stress management practices
- Get enough good quality sleep.
- Eat foods high in skin-craving nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Support the gut to reduce inflammation
- Keep your blood sugar balanced by reducing simple carbs, incorporating fat and protein with every meal, and ensuring adequate fiber intake.
However, if you suspect your acne or skin concerns have hormonal driven, I encourage you to see a healthcare professional who can provide the best assessment and treatment.
To healthy skin,
KEEP YOUR SKIN CLEAR NATURALLY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS:
Image by: @Marcymedia