Not only is the skin our largest organ – essential for detoxification, temperature regulation and protecting us from infection, it’s also a window to our hormonal health. The balance of major hormonal players is evident in our skin’s texture, tone and appearance.
Here are 5 key hormones with clues they give us about our skin health:
Thyroid hormone controls our cellular metabolism. Low thyroid function contributes to dry, dull skin, slow cell turnover and acne. To improve your thyroid function, eat iodine and selenium-rich foods such as seafood, seaweed and Brazil nuts, eliminate gluten, and avoid raw cruciferous vegetables and processed soy. Reducing stress and optimizing gut health can also have a positive impact on your thyroid.
Cortisol is a primary stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands. Elevated cortisol accelerates the aging process, increases inflammation and causes elevated blood sugar which dulls skin and contributes to acne (as well as abdominal weight gain/difficulty losing weight, anxiety and insomnia). To reduce cortisol levels, look for ways to lessen excessive workloads, exercise moderately, meditate + take regular vacations. You can also check in with your ND about specific botanical support.
Excess insulin contributes to skin inflammation (think redness, rough texture and enlarged pores) as well as testosterone production which contributes to oily skin. To balance insulin in your diet, avoid sugar, dairy, white flour and fruit juices. Eat balanced meals with vegetables, fiber, proteins and healthy fats. Exercise regularly and eat omega-3s to improve insulin sensitivity.
Estrogen supports skin elasticity, collagen production, firmness and wound-healing. Estrogen deficiency is most prevalent in menopause. (Note that excess estrogen is more common in pre-menopause and can sometimes contribute to hyperpigmentation.) Topical estrogen preparations for skin are available to reduce wrinkle depth, improve elasticity, hydration and collagen production. You can also discuss estrogen therapy or herbal, nutritional and lifestyle strategies to balance estrogen holistically with your ND.
Testosterone increases oil production in the skin and can lead to congestion and acne. In women, increased blood sugar and insulin may lead to increased testosterone production. Elevated levels can cause male-pattern hair loss in women. Treatment recommendations are the same as for insulin balance – also saw palmetto, licorice, nettle root, inositol and ground flax seed can reduce excess testosterone.
If you are dealing with skin issues, hormones are an important factor to consider as you investigate the underlying causes. One you know what is going on, you can target your efforts and use a holistic approach to restore your balance.
If you would like help to find out more about how your hormones may be impacting your skin health, please schedule a Vitality Discovery Call so we can get to know you and help you figure out your best next steps.