HORMONES REGULATE ALMOST ALL PROCESSES in the human body. Each of them can have several functions, and they interact with each other through the most complex algorithms. Violation of the synthesis of just one hormone can lead to a whole cascade of health problems – and hormonal disorders are also reflected in the skin. They can manifest themselves in different ways: as acne, dryness, flaking or too early loss of elasticity.
In order for the skin to feel good, it is worth not monitoring the level of a particular hormone, but of the overall hormonal balance, under the supervision of a competent and credible doctor. Irina Vyatkina, Candidate of Medical Sciences, a gynecologist-endocrinologist at the Marina Ryabus Clinic , told us about which hormones and how they affect the condition of the skin .
Testosterone and its derivatives are usually called male hormones – but in fact, everyone has both androgens and “female” estrogens, but only their quantity differs. Androgens stimulate the cells of the connective tissue that produce collagen – as a result, the deep layers of the skin are renewed and its elasticity is maintained.
Lack of androgens, including age-related, reduces the protective function of the skin and the rate of its renewal – it gradually loses its elasticity and density, becomes drier and thinner. An excess of androgens – for example, in the last phase of the menstrual cycle, a few days before menstruation – causes an increase in the work of the sebaceous glands, which makes the skin oily and prone to rashes.
The average female phenotype depends on estrogens – for example, the tendency to accumulate fat on the hips and other features of the figure. Estrogens are involved in the renewal of skin and hair cells. At a normal rate of this process, the skin remains elastic and hydrated – and shrinks well after dramatic changes in weight.
With an excess of estrogen, problems with blood vessels may appear (for example, varicose veins or vascular mesh on the legs), and body weight may also increase dramatically. Lack of estrogen in women can be manifested by a breakdown, excessive and uncharacteristic hair growth, and a decrease in libido.
Every month, progesterone prepares the female body for pregnancy, and if it comes, it helps to maintain and bear the baby until the placenta takes over this function. The work of this hormone also affects the appearance: an increase in progesterone levels leads to fluid retention and edema. In addition, the permeability of the vascular wall increases, and as a result, the skin becomes more extensible and prone to rashes, and the likelihood of pigmentation increases. An extra couple of kilograms just before menstruation is the merit of progesterone. Thanks to this hormone and for all the favorite PMS symptoms: irritability, irascibility, resentment, tearfulness and lethargy.
An increase in progesterone levels in the last phase of the menstrual cycle is normal. It is possible to suspect that there is too much of it on other days if there is a clear stretch of the skin, swelling, increased cellulite (this is due to fluid retention), mood swings, hyperpigmentation. Too long periods, brittle nails and hair may indicate a lack of progesterone.
First of all, this hormone is responsible for the formation of breast milk and is actively synthesized during lactation – but its level can also increase in stressful situations and during emotional stress. Its excess provokes edema, chest pain, skin tendency to oily and rashes. A deficiency can lead to dry skin, headaches, and loss of strength. The only indirect plus of prolactin for the skin is that it increases the production of oxytocin.
This hormone is responsible for feelings of tenderness and affection, and in the greatest quantities it is produced under the influence of prolactin after childbirth – this explains the instant wave of love that occurs in some women for a newborn. Oxytocin increases local (on the skin surface) immunity and reduces the risk of breakouts. This hormone utilizes glucose, namely sugar – the main food of pathogenic bacteria, and the less it is, the lower the risk of inflammation.
Well-being and a fresh look are hardly possible without normal sleep, and melatonin is responsible for its quality. Its synthesis occurs at night, from about midnight to four in the morning, in a dream and only in complete darkness. “Owls” who are awake at this time should be especially careful to monitor their melatonin levels.
Melatonin neutralizes the destructive effects of oxidative processes – it binds free radicals that are formed during oxidation, for example, of fats. Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of visual aging of the skin (loss of shine and elasticity), so the skin condition depends directly on the level of melatonin. The level of melatonin is closely related to the level of another important hormone – cortisol, and it is the smooth change in their concentrations that takes us from sleep to wakefulness when daylight comes. If you sleep in the light, there is more cortisol in the body and less melatonin.
Cortisol is usually called the stress hormone, but it participates in all metabolic processes – in case of stress, it is responsible for the instant mobilization of the body. If cortisol is in excess, then it affects us in a truly destructive way. Its level affects, for example, carbohydrate metabolism and insulin production, and its excess can lead to a typical redistribution of body fat. At the same time, the face, neck, upper shoulder girdle become very fat, and the legs and pelvis lose weight disproportionately.
With an increase in cortisol levels, acne and peeling appear, the skin becomes oily and thinned, and the risk of hyperpigmentation increases. The lesions take longer to heal, leaving behind scars and age spots. In addition, cortisol causes swelling, brittle hair, and can lead to seborrhea and even hair loss.
This hormone goes hand in hand with cortisol – it is called the “hormone of joy.” During natural aging, dopamine levels decline – and the problem is, of course, not aging itself , but the associated risks of disease and general malaise. Dopamine deficiency can be seen in impoverished facial expressions, lethargy, stoop, stiffness of movement, loss of dexterity and plasticity.
Insulin is known to be responsible for the level of glucose in the blood, and the development of resistance to it is associated with one of the most formidable diseases – diabetes mellitus. In the already developed diabetes mellitus, complications are terrible first of all – from both the heart and large vessels, and capillaries, which nourish the skin, among other things. In severe cases, a violation of this process leads to necrosis of the tissues of the feet and can result in amputation.
Emerging problems with insulin levels can externally manifest themselves in the form of hyperpigmentation, a decrease in the protective function of the skin, a tendency to inflammation, and darkening of certain areas – for example, in the armpits and on the neck.
Thyroid hormones are involved in many processes – they regulate metabolism, vitamin A synthesis, and the rate of oxygen absorption. If the function of the thyroid gland is reduced, dryness, yellowness, and marbling of the skin appear. Hair falls out, nails break and exfoliate, and hairs of the outer third of the eyebrows can also fall out. When thyroid hormones are in excess, hair becomes thin, soft, and oily, and skin becomes oily, hot, and sweating excessively. Often this condition is accompanied by hyperpigmentation.