How your hormones can impact your skin condition

My Hormonology

How your hormones can impact your skin condition

BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN

 

  • Research shows that a wide range of skin conditions–including eczema, psoriasis and rosacea–can flare up on days leading up to your period and during your period.

 

UPDATED April 27, 2022 (originally published March 19 2015)—Have a skin condition and notice that symptoms flare on the days leading up to your period or crop up during your period?

It’s a common problem. According to a report in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, researchers pinpointed 17 skin conditions–including eczema, psoriasis and rosacea–that tend worsen 3 to 10 days prior to menstruation and during menstruation.1 (You can click here to find out if your skin condition made it onto the list.)

The menstrual cycle/skin connection

So, why do skin issues tend to get worse on these cycle days?

As the authors explain it, estrogen and progesterone impact the skin depending on how high or low their levels are throughout your monthly cycle.

High levels of estrogen thicken the skin’s outer layer, which helps provide a stronger barrier between you and problematic allergens and irritants. This hormone also improves moisture content in skin and speeds wound healing by prompting higher collagen production.

Though each skin problem is different, these and other factors related to estrogen are likely why your skin condition is most under control during Week 2 of your cycle–which is Day 8 through ovulation. You’ve got high estrogen on your side.

When estrogen levels are low premenstrually and during the first few days of your period, your skin gets thinner and more permeable, allowing more of those allergens and irritants to do their damage. Your skin also retains less moisture and you’re producing less skin-healing collagen. On these days, estrogen has left you high and dry.

The ups and downs of progesterone in the second half of your cycle also play a role in exacerbating skin conditions, though how it does is somewhat less clear and more complex. But, one factor may be an allergy to progesterone–a condition called progestogen hypersensitivity (PH) that causes your immune system to overreact to your body’s natural progesterone or when taking synthetic progesterone, for example, in birth control.

For the majority of women who experience PH during their monthly cycle, symptoms tend to increase when progesterone spikes about a week prior to menstruation and lessens during the first few days of their period, which is when your level of progesterone bottom out.

Symptoms can vary from woman to woman and include a wide variety of skin disorders, including eczema, rash, blisters, hives, vulval itching and canker sores, as well as asthma.

The takeaway

If you’ve got a skin condition and notice it worsens prior to and/or during your period, talk to your healthcare provider about it. They may be able to tailor a treatment regimen around your menstrual cycle to keep bothersome symptoms in check.

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(1) Rakhi Singh Raghunath, et al., “The menstrual cycle and the skin”, Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, published February 11, 2015

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