Explaining how hormone levels affect your skin
Before we go on with the article, let me just preface it by saying that this article will discuss the life stages of a person who was assigned female at birth or AFAB. Basically, this is typically based on their external genitalia. Although many transgender and non-binary people are comfortable identifying as AFAB, some prefer not to use this term to describe their experience or the experience of others. This is not to disrespect others’ sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as we will only talk about how hormone levels affect one’s skin health.
With that said, this is how hormone levels affect your skin:
I’m sure you’ve had a breakout during your period before. And, yes, those are a thing. It’s all because your hormones have a major impact on your skin. It plays a role in skin health throughout your lifetime. Your skin is your largest and most important organ. Basically, it forms a protective barrier, regulates your temperature, and provides a route for the elimination of fluids like sweat and oil. Fluctuating hormone levels cause different skin concerns during your period, pregnancy, and even menopause.
Estrogen stimulates collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production. This helps the skin plump and firm. Progesterone, on the other hand, stimulates the production of sebum or oil glands in the skin. This, then, causes the skin to swell and compress the look of pres. Meanwhile, testosterone which presents during menstruation activates the sebaceous glands to produce oil.
As we age and go through life’s various stages. our hormone levels change. And, the appearance of our skin becomes the visible indicator of hormonal fluctuations. Intentionally distinguished board-certified dermatologist and hormonal skin expert, Dr. Zenovia explained how hormones affect your skin during these six key life stages. These, of course, include puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
Between the ages of ten to fourteen, your body experiences a surge in reproductive hormones. This includes the hormones we mentioned earlier — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This surge in hormones triggers the beginning of your menstrual cycle. Of course, this comes with the physical changes that we see in puberty.
When testosterone increases, it causes sebaceous gland stimulation. It also increases sebum production. This, then, lead to oily skin and clogged follicles. And, that’s why you get acne during puberty as excessive sebum becomes one of the causal elements. This is common at the beginning of the menstrual cycle due to the change in the ratio of the three key hormones.
When estrogen levels decrease, it gives off the same effects as it did with the increase of testosterone which leads to an increase in oil production, acne flares, and breakouts. Although this is common during puberty, acne severity depends on hormone imbalances, genetics, and other environmental factors.
During pregnancy, on the other hand, estrogen and progesterone increase. This causes to stimulate pigment cells in the body due to an increase in melanin stimulating hormone or MSH from the anterior pituitary gland. Aside from that, this also leads to darker moles, darker nipples, and vulva which results to a condition called melasma.
Melasma refers to the hyperpigmentation of the skin with the overproduction of melanin by pigment cells called melanocytes. Aside from that, this discoloration commonly occurs on the forehead, upper lip, and cheeks.
It is also important to avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen, especially if you have melasma as it directly stimulates and worsened by UV exposure. Pregnancy-indused melasma is actually benign and has the ability to resolve postpartum. But, if it is severe, doctors can prescription creams to completely eliminate the hyperpigmentation.
When you’re pregnant, you are actually also susceptible to varicose veins. This are a common and usually harmless part of pregnancy for some women. This happens when the uterus applies pressure to the large vein called the inferior vana cava that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs. Sometimes, though, it can become itchy, uncomfortable, or even painful.
Hormones during pregnancy can also cause acne, even to people who haven’t experienced acne in the past. The likely culprit is an excessive production of oil or sebum. And, if that is the case, you have to avoid both oral and topical retinoids, as we ll as hormonal therapy, oral antibiotics. These can lead to dangerous birth defects and negatovely affect the development of your body.
Although there is an increase in estrogen during pregnancy, the opposite happens in postpartum. Skincare during this time can be tough to navigate as you also want to ensure that the products that you use will be safe for the baby. Hormones like estrogen decrease significant after delivery and your skin will feel the change.
The dysregulation of oil production result in increased acne. There will be a lack of luminosity and severe hydration which manifests in dry skin and even cracked heels. Decreased estrogen and hormonal imbalance return to a steady-state once breastfeeding ceases and normal menstrual cycles return.
The classic signs of perimenopause include hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, and mood swings. However, skin changes become a symptom due to fluctuating hormones. During this life stage, estrogen rapidly declines and steeply fluctuates. Some skin dryness comes from the aging process.
The higher in the age you get, the less watertight the skin becomes. There will also be acne breakouts due to the imbalance of hormones. Aside from that, atopic dermatitis or eczema also occurs more often during this time as skin becomes more sensitive and less resilient.
Menopause causes a natural decline in reproductive hormones. These include a drop in estrogen and increase in the ratio of testosterone and progesterone. Due to the decrease of estrogen during menopause, it causes a significant dehydration due to an increase in trans-epidermal water loss. This will make you feel drier and appear more wrinkled. The collagen depletion leads to a loss of skin elasticity and firmness.
There will also be age spots or solar lentigos. Aside from that, the risk of skin cancer rises. So, if you’re at this point of your life, make sure to book an appointment for a full body exam. That way, you can see a board-certified dermatologist for screen. Remember, the earlier skin cancer is detected, the more treatable it is.
Your skin continues become drier and less elastic during the post-menopausal period. This leads to thinner, more wrinkled tissue and also volume depletion from significant collagen loss. Systemic hormone replacement therapy or HRT has been shown to improve some of these aspects of skin.
You can introduce more estrogen into your body and help out in restoring skin tickness. This increases collagen synthesis and limit excessive collagen degradation. Overall skin health, including wrinkling, elasticity, and hydration can be improved following estrogen treatment.
Hormones play a major role in the appearance of our skin. So, it’s a good thing to learn more about itf for improvement of your skin health as you go through different stages in your life.
Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.