Your skin can be a window to the happenings inside your body. PCOS is an endocrinological or hormonal disorder found in almost 1 out of 10 women of child bearing age. Its root cause is unknown but family history, lifestyle mistakes such as unhealthy diet being physically inactive and environmental toxins can possibly be risk factors for the disease. There is no permanent cure, but it can be managed by bringing in some permanent lifestyle changes.
Being a host of issues like weight gain, irregular menstrual cycle, infertility and insulin resistance, women with PCOS have to combat skin problems as well. Depending upon the hormonal fluctuations PCOS patients may have cystic acne, excessive facial and body hair, dark patches, skin tags, hair thinning or male pattern baldness. Seeing a dermatologist at Hameed Latif Hospital, as per the severity of your skin condition is recommended.
Some of the skin issues caused by PCOS and their possible cures are discussed below.
Hirsutism is the growth of excessive facial and body hair. It is caused by an increase in androgen which is a male hormone. Women with hirsutism not only have to bear the physical pain while struggling to remove these unwanted hair, but they also go through emotional and psychological torment and low self esteem.
There are tons of hair removal techniques, from temporary methods like shaving, waxing, epilation to long term solutions like laser and electrolysis. But if the androgen levels are not treated rightly, the hair growth will reappear.
In some cases losing weight helps in lowering androgens. But most patients need anti androgen medicines as treatment. Applying Eflornithine creams (Vaniqa) and lavender or tea tree oil on affected areas may also work for some. Dietary solutions for lowering androgens include adding foods that are high in antioxidants, avoiding refined foods and seed cycling.
PCOS acne is caused by the abnormal fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Your doctor might suggest you to take oral contraceptives or prescribe you Hormone Replacement Therapy, depending on the severity of acne.
For milder cases, dietary changes and proper skin care regime do work.
An anti-inflammatory diet is also helpful in this regard. Limiting or completely cutting out refined carbs, avoiding dairy, protein, high GI (Glycaemic Index) foods, sugar, alcohol, inflammatory fats and increasing high fiber, high protein food is beneficial. Supplements such as vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and zinc are also proven to be useful.
Simple skin care steps like washing your face at least twice a day, using oil free moisturizer and non comedogenic makeup only, turn out helpful as well.
3. Acanthosis Nigricans or Darkening Skin
Darkening and thickening of skin is caused by insulin resistance i.e your body makes insulin but cannot use it effectively. The most affected areas include underarms, collar area, inner thighs, around lips, under eyes and forehead. You should opt for Online Skin Specialist Consultation at your earliest. Delays in treatment might result in causing life threatening diseases like skin cancer.
For managing insulin resistance, your doctor may prescribe you metformin with a healthy, low carb, whole grain diet. In addition, regular physical activity also helps lower insulin levels.
These dark skin patches should be cleaned gently. You may use Vitamin C serums, azelaic acid, kojic acid, benzoyl peroxide or niacinamide on them. Avoid bleaching, using skin scrubs or OTC exfoliating treatment on affected areas.
Melasma also known as chloasma is a skin condition that causes patches and spots darker than your natural skin. Melasma and PCOS are connected as both are caused by hormonal imbalance, fluctuating female hormones and increase in androgens.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive treatment that will automatically make melasma disappear, but in most cases dark patches fade away with time, as hormone levels settle down. Avoiding sunlight, reducing stress, taking at least 7 hours sleep and eating antioxidants might also prove helpful. Some home remedies include applying aloe vera gel, turmeric, licorice extract, black tea water and orchid extract.
Living with PCOS can be very difficult for women. From serious issues like being at risk for Type 2 diabetes and infertility to milder ones like acne, dealing with PCOS is physically and mentally taxing. Implementing permanent lifestyle changes with proper treatment is the only way to cope with PCOS.