The skin is the largest human organ. Hormones are just one of the many things that help this complex and essential organ run. As we age hormones fluctuate to aid us through our various stages of life. Within each stage the hormones our body is producing will affect your skin in different ways.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by your body to help regulate various functions of your bodies organs. Think of them as the conductors of the symphony. They control the actions and growth of your bodies cells and organs. The amount of different types of hormones in your body is vast but there are 5 types that are associated with the skin and beauty. Androgens, estrogens, thyroids, steroids and insulins are the five hormone types that have an affect on your skin. Their primary functions vary, as does the way they affect the skin.
- Androgens – The most well known androgen is testosterone. It is a male hormone but whether male or female we all have them. This hormone type can cause your to produce more oils which can lead to acne.
- Estrogens – This female hormone can help reduce the amount of oils produced to help clear up acne. It also helps hair and nails grow.
- Thyroids – If your body is not producing enough thyroid hormones it can cause your skin to dry out and become wrinkled.
- Steroids – Over production of this type of hormone can cause pigmentation problems.
- Insulin – These hormones regulate the body’s metabolism, which is central to how all of your organs (which includes the skin) run.
As You Age
There are various stages in our development in which hormones can be blamed for problems our skin may be having. In our adolescence as our bodies go through puberty our bodies can produce to many androgens, which can lead to acne. One way women can combat this is by getting on a contraceptive. This helps balance the levels of androgens and estrogens in your body, which can help to clear up the acne on your skin.
As women enter their child-bearing years, their bodies go through more hormonal changes. The most common affect it has on their skin is a condition called melasma often referred to as “pregnancy mask”. The body starts producing to much melanin, a substance that gives color to hair, skin and eyes. This causes a mask-like coloration to the face. There are various treatment options for this discoloration, a dermatologist may prescribe a topical cream or suggest an in office procedure. However, if you have melasma making sure your skin is protected from the sun year round using sunscreens is the best way to keep this condition at bay.
Entering menopause is the next “big” stage our bodies go through and our hormones change again. Our thyroids slow down and there is a drop off of both estrogens and androgens. Our skin will become dryer causing less acne problems but it will also begin to lose elasticity causing it to sag. Topical applications of plant derived estrogens (soy, green tea and yam) can help slow down this process but at this point it is a battle. The best way to combat this is to start applying these topical treatments in your 40s before the onset of menopause.