Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate the activities of all the different cells and tissues in our bodies.
The hormone produced by one tiny gland can circulate throughout our bodies in order to trigger different effects in different areas.
Usually, these effects are beneficial. However, when our hormone levels are higher or lower than normal or if we have a persistent hormonal imbalance, it can cause problems. Some of these hormonal issues can cause visible effects on our skin.
Hormones and Acne
One of the most common hormonal skin problems is acne. Acne occurs when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin. The trapped material can attract bacteria and cause inflammation, resulting in spots.
Hormones can increase the chances of getting spots because they affect the amount of oil that our skin is producing. The more oil that is being made, the greater the chances of the follicles become blocked.
The main hormone that is involved in acne is testosterone. Higher testosterone levels are associated with more oil production and a higher risk of acne. This is why acne is such a common problem for boys during adolescence. As their testosterone levels peak, boys will often end up with skin problems.
Testosterone is usually thought of as a male hormone as the levels can be much higher in men. However, women produce testosterone too. The impact of testosterone is usually milder in women because it is balanced against the effects of female hormones such as estrogen.
However, when the levels of these female hormones drop towards the end of each menstrual cycle the effects of testosterone on the skin can become more obvious. Many women will start to develop the spots in the days before their period arrives.
Hormonal acne linked to the menstrual cycle is very common in women, especially during their 20s. However, spots can sometimes be a sign of an underlying condition that is causing a hormonal imbalance.
For example, women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome have higher levels of male hormones that can cause skin problems along with other symptoms such as irregular periods.
Hormones and Hair Loss in Women
Androgenetic alopecia, a type of hair loss commonly called male or female pattern baldness, was only partially understood until the last few decades.
For many years, scientists thought that androgenetic alopecia was caused by the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women also have in trace amounts under normal conditions. But while testosterone is at the core of the balding process, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is now thought to be the main culprit.
DHT, a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is the enemy of hair follicles on your head. Simply put, under certain conditions DHT wants those follicles dead. This simple action is at the root of many kinds of hair loss.
Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Scientists now believe that it’s not the amount of circulating testosterone that’s the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women.
Certainly, when those testosterone levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. DHT levels can be elevated and be within what doctors consider “normal range” on a blood test, but they may be high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.
Since hormones operate best when they are in a delicate balance, the androgens, as male hormones are called, do not need to be raised to trigger a problem. Their counterpart female hormones, when lowered, give an edge to these androgens, such as DHT. Such an imbalance can also cause problems, including hair loss.
Hair loss can also be caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones or pregnancy, disease, and certain medications, which can all influence hair’s growth and shedding phases.
Hormones are cyclical. Testosterone levels in some men drop by 10% each decade after age 30. Women’s hormone levels decline as menopause approaches and drop sharply during menopause and beyond. The cyclic nature of both our hair and hormones is one reason hair loss can increase in the short term even when you are having a long-term slowdown of hair loss (and a long-term increase in hair growth) while on a treatment that controls hair loss.
In men, hair loss is a result of an imbalance of testosterone in the body. Instead of infusing the hair with healthy testosterone, enzymes break it down into a simpler form known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An excess of this hormone has the effect of decreasing the size of hair follicles which eventually break down and make the hair fall off sporadically.
Systemic vs Local Hormone Therapy
Nowadays, there is a lot of men and women can do to keep their skin and hair healthy. As we age, we all want not only to feel better but also to look better and live better. Our wellbeing comes from the inside out.
Systemic hormone replacement treatment is definitely the first step to keep our body healthy but there is more we can do. In terms of skin & hair health, we also need to work locally. When we take hormones systemically, our body distributes the hormones to all our organs and only a small, nominal amount actually gets delivered to the skin and to the hair.
Therefore, it is important that we integrate into our wellbeing journey two further steps: a medical-grade home skin and hair care regime, containing various types of different molecules and hormones to apply locally and, eventually, regenerative and corrective procedures.
Playing the long game results in success
There are numerous medical procedures for menopausal and andropausal skin and hair changes. Treatment should be tailored to suit the person’s individual needs. In addition, a skin and hair improvement plan is a journey, not a one-off event.
We can compare starting a skin and hair improvement plan to joining the gym – we wouldn’t just go once and assume we will be fit for the rest of our life – we need to keep going.
If you need to make your skin and hair better now, learn how to do it for free here.