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Hormones and the Skin | Part ONE

Written by Janine Tait on January 16th, 2015.      0 comments


The agony of adolescent acne, the irritation of pre-menstrual breakouts, the burden or bloom of our skin during pregnancy and the changes experienced at menopause. What do these skin conditions have in common? Sex hormones.

As therapists we are aware of the huge influence sex hormones have on the appearance of the skin. For men their influence is most apparent during puberty when acne strikes. For women, whose blood hormone levels are constantly fluctuating, their influence is experienced throughout their adult lives. Not only this, the difference we see between the skin of men and women is due to the dominant hormones of each sex.

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers that have specific effects on certain cells of the body. Hormones, which are produced by endocrine glands, are released into the bloodstream where they are carried to all parts of the body. But they will only effect cells that have specific receptors for that particular hormone. The tissue acted upon by each hormone is known as the TARGET TISSUE. The cells that make up these tissues have receptors in their cell membrane or within the cytoplasm to which a specific hormone attaches. The purpose of the receptor is to recognise the presence of the hormone. Once it is attached it then conveys the message to the nucleus, where the required action takes place through the regulation of the manufacture of proteins and enzyme synthesis. Hormones can only have an effect if they are able to bond to a receptor. If they cannot bond it will not matter how high the hormone levels are, they will have no effect. The more receptors in a certain area the more sensitive that area will be to that particular hormone.

The Effects of Hormones on the Skin SpaBeauty Articles

The skin contains receptors for several types of hormones: 
  • Oestrogenic Hormones Female-like effect
  • Androgenic Hormones Male-like effect
  • Progesterone A precursor hormone to both androgens and oestrogens
Many endocrine diseases and disorders effect the hormonal balance throughout our bodies. This can result in an imbalance of sex hormones, which can affect the appearance of the skin.

The effects of hormones on the skin

Oestrogen

  • Increases the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Reduces the size and activity of the sebaceous glands.
  • Keeps sebaceous secretion thin and less fatty.
  • Slows the rate of hair growth.
  • Increases the action of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which produces hyaluronic acid.
  • Keeps the skin metabolically active.
  • It also appears to stimulate fibroblast activity however study is continuing into this area. (Fibroblasts contain oestrogen and produce hyaluronic acid.)
The influence of oestrogen is easily seen in women's skins. Its regulatory effect on the size and action of the sebaceous gland means that compared with men, women generally have finer pored and drier skins. Oestrogen also stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is one of the chief components of the base substance in the dermis and it enables the dermis to hold moisture. It provides the skin with its ability to resist stretching and keeps the skin firm and moist, giving it the smooth, soft feel we so often associate with the skin of a woman. Androgens, on the other hand, stimulate collagen production resulting in the stronger, coarser skin of a man.

Progesterone

The skin contains receptors for progesterone but its action on the skin is unknown. However, it has been shown that progesterone can interfere with the action of oestrogen receptors in the skin.

Androgens

  • Increase the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands.
  • Increase collagen production through the stimulation of fibroblast cells to produce the proteins needed for collagen synthesis.
  • Increase hair growth.
Males have a far higher level of androgen hormones than females and because of the effect the sex hormones have on the skin, this means there is a huge difference in the skin of the sexes. Because of the effect of the androgens the sebaceous glands are larger and therefore the pores appear larger. In the dermis, the androgens stimulate the action of the fibroblast cells, responsible for the production of collagen and elastin. Little is known about the effect of hormones on elastin production but much research has been carried out on their influence on collagen synthesis. This has shown that testosterone increases collagen production resulting in a very strong skin.

Androgens increase the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer resulting in a thickening of the skin surrounding the opening of the pilosebaceous duct.

We can now apply these hormonal influences to the different stages our skin passes through during times of hormonal change.

Read more in Part TWO of this article HERE.

Article supplied by Janine Tait, Founder & Creator of Bestow Beauty.
 
To contact Janine or for more information on Bestow Beauty, visit

Website: www.bestowbeauty.com

Email: info@bestowbeauty.co.nz

Freephone: 0800 455 224

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