Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces a very low level of thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone helps influence the growth, development, and metabolism of the body.
Deficiency in the hormone levels impacts different parts of the body adversely. This elicits various symptoms in the body, including weight gain, depression, dry or scaly skin, muscle cramps, brittle nails and hair, tiredness, and more.
Of the various changes that occur in hypothyroidism, the exacerbation of acne is a significant factor. While hypothyroidism is connected with various conditions, such as heart disease and lipid disorders; in this post, we will see about the adverse effects the condition has on the skin, particularly its role in acne formation.
Hypothyroidism Induced Skin Changes
Changes in the skin, including dryness and thickening of the skin in knees and elbow region, occur commonly. Hair loss and discoloration of soles and palms due to increased carotene accumulation are also seen in hypothyroidism.
In some cases, premenstrual acne is increased in intensity in female adults with hypothyroidism. A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology evaluated the relation of thyroid condition with the presence of acne in adults, especially women. The readings were compared with healthy individuals as controls.
The study result indicates that acne in adults can be related to thyroid autoimmunity and should be considered when screening the women who have post-adolescent acne. Acne is one of the conditions that are very difficult to treat. This is due to the diverse range of causes that trigger it.
Acne and Its Treatment
Acne is often treated with over the counter medications including creams and lotions, which most often are not effective. This is especially true if the underlying cause of acne is not treated.
In fact, acne is a skin condition that is triggered by some functional disorder in the body and not due to the changes in the skin directly. Hence, the creams and lotions are not a good solution.
Hyperthyroidism and Acne
Hormonal imbalance has been cited as one of the significant causes of acne. Imbalance in androgen hormone is a common cause of acne in older women. Another less known but significant factor in acne production is the imbalance in thyroid hormone. Acne due to thyroid disturbances is more complicated to treat as the condition does not resolve easily.
To resolve an outbreak of acne, you need to first identify whether the hormonal imbalance is triggering the acne outbreak. When hormones are causing the condition you will not find relief with creams, gels, lotions, and other acne skin care brands available.
In case of imbalance in progesterone and estrogen levels, the acne breakouts occur near the hairline and jawline and the skin is very oily. Contraceptives are, thus, considered as a good treatment choice for such acne.
However, the hormonal condition may be caused by hypothyroidism. This is often overlooked leading to improper treatment of acne. The Journal of European Medicine in a 2009 review has cited that nearly 5% of acne vulgaris and 3.6% of acne rosacea are skin findings associated with thyroid conditions.
The study reports that majority of symptoms found in thyroid conditions are related to the skin and include urticaria, alopecia, and vitiligo besides acne. Hence, treating thyroid hormone deficiency with contraceptives is not a solution to resolve acne. Moreover, hypothyroidism is related to several hormonal imbalances, which can lead to acne formation.
Some of the causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Low level of progesterone resulting in high estrogen dominance.
- Affects the level of insulin, resulting in higher testosterone levels, which cause oily skin and acne.
- Further, vitamin A formation from beta-carotenoids found in foods like pumpkins, carrots, etc. occurs due to hypothyroidism. This can result in rough and scaly skin that is prone to comedones, resulting in acne formation.
When acne is triggered by the above conditions, it can be treated properly by dealing with hypothyroidism, instead of using other treatment forms. Using thyroid hormone or improving the function of the thyroid gland naturally will help provide relief from the acne condition.
How to Identify Thyroid Dependent Acne
Cystic acne is the typical acne form found in hypothyroidism and it shows a definite improvement in the thyroid hormone addition. Further, in general, the acne in hypothyroidism is not related to menstrual cycle. And, when it is associated with other hypothyroidism symptoms, including fatigue and brittle or dry hair and nails, it can be identified easily.
Other than directly being responsible for acne, hypothyroidism is also indirectly related to acne outbreaks. It causes disturbances in the digestive tract and hormonal levels leading to acne formation. In such cases, acne is seen all over the skin and not restricted to the face alone.
When you identify the root cause of the acne outbreak, you will be able to find a lasting solution to the terrible and frustrating acne issue. Other than wreaking havoc on your physical appearance, it can also affect you mentally. Low self-esteem and depression can occur with untreated acne. With hypothyroidism, balancing the thyroid hormone is an effective remedy for the skin lesions that accompany the condition. This includes healing the acne effectively.