5 signs you wear your hormones on your skin
The skin is the largest organ, protecting us whatever is going on in the outside world, acting as a barrier for our muscles, bones, and organs. It's also said that skin is a reflection of what's going on inside of us, such as acne as a sign of imbalanced hormones, and dry skin potentially a sign of under active thyroid. Skin concerns can also be from a food intolerance, medications, imbalanced gut bacteria, detoxification/liver issues, blood sugar issues, or new face/beauty product, or a product you've been using forever that has so many chemicals that it's only just now that it's turning you into an itchy/scratchy/blotchy mess. Or it could be a combination of everything, which can make treatment daunting.
That's where getting to pay attention to how/when it occurred, and typically knowing the type of skin rash present. Acne, especially painful cystic lesions, is commonly due to high testosterone, which can be triggered by insulin resistance, high estrogen, a diet high in sugar, and stress. High testosterone stimulates the sebum (oil) producing glands, which we need- it just needs to be in balance with other hormones. Circles under your eyes in Chinese medicine indicate kidney imbalance - ultimately representing all hormones, and very dependent on sleep & stress management. The adrenal glands, two glands that sit on top of the kidneys, are responsible for a good part of our hormone production, as well as maintaining our salt/water balance (blood pressure), and cortisol secretion (stress hormone). Our body really likes rhythm too- so when all these hormones don't get to be regenerated at night, or when we're so stressed out that resources have to be dedicated to cortisol instead of hormones, enter those unwanted circles. Under active thyroid is another common issue, in men and women alike, as thyroid is metabolism, aka how fast processes go. Think dry, coarse skin with a reduced ability to sweat. There also tends to be digestion, hair loss/thinning, and weight issues. On the contrary, an over active thyroid can lead to smooth, sweaty, warm, and flushed skin due to being so ramped up.
Last but not least, and this one is a little unexpected, yet indirectly, erectile dysfunction/libido issues due to hormone imbalances can tempt men to reach for viagra, which increases their risk for melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer. Melanoma develops in someone's body the same way viagra works on the body, and in 2014 a study came out linking the two such that men who took viagra regularly were more at risk for developing melanoma. Risk factors for this too are much more likely to be due to age and unprotected sun exposure, so while there may need to be more research done on how much of a cause it can be, and warrant clinical concern, it's something to keep in mind the next time you or your partner goes for that little blue pill. On the flip side, there's a multitude of natural options available that have similar effect.
Here are some great places to start to benefit your whole body, and therefore nourish your skin, regardless of what seems to be showing up:
- Manage stress - It's more than just saying 'Ohm' for a few minutes then rushing right back to work. It's how you handle situations, making time for hobbies and/or spend with others you enjoy, and being able to detach. Getting to sleep before 11pm also helps lower cortisol (our stress hormone) because that's around the time that cortisol goes & stays down so melatonin, our body's most potent endogenous antioxidant, can rise and exert all of its benefits. Ongoing stress can also mess with sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, thyroid, and blood sugar.
- Aim for omega 3's - These foods are great to make healthy oils in the skin, and also have the healthy fats needed for hormone balance. Incorporate foods like coconut oil (great for cooking, or in smoothies), wild caught salmon (also a good source of vitamin D, a building block of hormones), avocado (also rich in magnesium & B vitamins- super important for our stress response), and olive oil (a high source of omega 3 fatty acids).
- Go through your beauty products - Check out ewg.org/skindeep and chuck anything over a 4. Many times our products are riddled with chemicals even when it says natural, and could actually be more harmful than we think, especially when ingredients look like your last chemistry test.
Our skin is a wonderful indication that something internally may not be right, yet with so many different processes interacting, it can be difficult to discern exactly what to go after first. And maybe you've tried a few supplements or creams, yet nothing quite seemed to do the trick. Or it came back. Fortunately there are many natural options, and also importantly, understanding the person's physiology and addressing as many concerns at once, as even the suggestions above can very much improve skin integrity, as well as overall health.