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PCOS Can Wreak Havoc On Your Skin Health & We Got Dr Sonavane To Answer All Your Questions

Anandita MalhotraAnandita Malhotra  |  Sep 22, 2021
PCOS Can Wreak Havoc On Your Skin Health & We Got Dr Sonavane To Answer All Your Questions

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They say the skin is the window into what is going on inside your body and if you’ve noticed aggravated acne, pigmentation, hair loss, excessive facial or body hair growth or any combination of these issues, you could be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.

September is recognised as PCOS Awareness Month and it is one of the most common hormonal disturbances that affects women all over the world. While skin and hair conditions are the most visible signs of PCOS, menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovaries (ovaries with multiple small follicles seen on ultrasonography), obesity, and insulin resistance (when cells do not respond well to insulin) are all symptoms of PCOS too. So, if you are suffering from PCOS or know someone who is, we’ve got Dr Sonavane, a celebrity dermatologist to answer all of your queries.

What Causes PCOS?

“Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, medical evidence points to hormonal imbalances, specifically excess testosterone, also known as hyperandrogenism, and insulin resistance. It is also the most common cause of female infertility as hormonal imbalances disrupt the ovulation process, and pregnancy is impossible without ovulation. This syndrome can be difficult to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms,” she says.

How Does PCOS Effect The Skin

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Causes Acne

While many women experience acne as teenagers, PCOS can cause acne in adulthood. PCOS-related hormonal changes can stimulate oil production in sebaceous glands on your face, chest, and back. As a result, acne can then develop in any of these areas.

Clogs Your Pores

Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop acne that consists of tender knots under the skin and severely clogged pores.

Leads To Pigmentation

The acne flare-ups that come with PCOS take longer than usual to go and when they do, they tend to leave pigmentation marks over the face and body. This can look like dark spots or discolouration.

Gives Rise To Skin Darkening And Skin Tags

Women with PCOS who develop insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes are more likely to develop acanthosis nigricans. This is a skin darkening that appears as a black or purplish velvet texture in the underarm, collar area of the neck and around the eyes. These areas may also develop unsightly skin tags.

How Does PCOS Effect Hair

Causes Abnormal Facial Hair Growth

Due to the excessive male hormones in the body because of PCOS, women may notice abnormal and excessive hair growth on the face and body.

Leads To Thinning Of Hair And Hair Loss

Another common symptom of PCOS is thinning of hair and hair loss all over the scalp. There sometimes is also a widening of the hair parting and an increase in scalp visibility.

Results In A Receding Hairline

Again, because of excess male hormones in the system, some women may even develop a receding hairline.

Promotes Hair Frizz

Women may also be more prone to frizzy hair as a result of excessive hair loss.

Leads To Scalp Buildup

Another common hair condition that could be caused by PCOS is having an itchy scalp and buildup. This could also lead to dandruff.

What Are The Treatment Options When Suffering From PCOS

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Dr Sonavane explains, “Although there is no cure for PCOS, there are numerous treatment options for managing the syndrome’s various symptoms. The treatments used are determined by a woman’s priorities and symptoms. For example, being at a healthy weight can lead to symptom improvement, so lifestyle changes such as nutrition and exercise may be beneficial. To improve menstrual regularity, some women may require birth control pills. Metformin, a commonly used diabetes medication, can help improve the body’s response to insulin.”

“Treatment is tailored to each individual and is dependent on whether or not pregnancy is a short-term goal. Certain medications, such as spironolactone and retinoids for acne, should be avoided by women who are trying to conceive. Along with oral medications, treatments such as chemical peels for acne, laser treatment for pigmentation, laser hair removal for excess hair, and PRP hair treatment provide excellent responses,” she further elaborates.

Some Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Keep PCOS Under Control

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Weight loss can lower insulin and androgen levels, potentially restoring ovulation. Meet with a nutritionist on a regular basis if necessary to help you reach your weight goals.

Have Nutritious Home Cooked Food

A healthy and nutritious diet will make a significant difference. Diet has a major impact on your weight as well as your PCOS. Consume fresh, home-cooked meals and stay away from packaged food. 

Reduce Dairy Intake

Avoid using milk derived from animals. You can consume fermented milk products such as cheese, curd in low quantity. For your tea or coffee, use plant-based milk such as almond milk or coconut milk.

Limit Your Carbohydrate Intake

Restrict sugary foods and foods made with refined flour. Diets high in carbohydrates and low in healthy fat may raise insulin levels. Choose complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and salads to prevent an insulin spike instead.

Exercise

Exercise aids in the reduction of blood sugar levels. If you have PCOS, increasing your daily activity and following a regular exercise program may help you treat or even prevent insulin resistance, keep your weight under control, and avoid diabetes.

Avoid Using Plastic

Recent research has discovered a link between PCOS and plastic containers as well as packaging material. Make the switch to non-plastic products. You can carry steel or copper utensils instead of plastic water bottles or storage boxes.

De-stress

PCOS can result in a great deal of physical and mental stress. You may experience frequent mood swings, which can have an impact on the quality of your daily life. Being stressed all the time can cause breakouts on your face as well as hair loss. As a result, manage stress to avoid its negative effects on your skin and hair. There are numerous techniques available to help you calm your nerves, such as meditation and yoga, to name a few. Make time for yourself every day to do something you enjoy.

Some Skincare Tips To Keep In Mind If You Have PCOS

  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser. You can wash it up to three times but no more. When washing your face, keep the timing in mind. The entire process of applying face wash and washing your face should take at least 60 seconds.
  • Wipe your face with a clean face towel that goes in the laundry each day.
  • If you exercise, make sure to shower and shampoo afterward.
  • Use a light hyaluronic acid-based moisturiser and silicone-free sunscreen during the day.
  • If you wear makeup, make sure to double cleanse with micellar water before going to bed.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of your makeup brushes and tools at all times.
  • Change your pillowcases every two days because they are a breeding ground for dust, oil secretion, and other allergens. Remember to flip your pillows to the opposite side after each use.
  • If you do not wear headphones, your phone is in constant contact with your face and should be sanitised daily.
  • Wearing masks all of the time can aggravate your acne. As a result, you must wear disposable masks. You can even wear cotton masks as long as you wash them after each use. Also, give yourself a 10-15 minute mask-free period every 2 hours.

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Just remember, if you notice these changes in your hair or skin, visit your dermatologist immediately to know the root cause and treatment options for the issue. Let’s stay informed and educated.

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