You may be surprised to hear that acne and thyroid problems are closely connected. How, you may wonder? The thing is, acne happens because of imbalance of hormones. Thyroid hormone, when disrupted, does not just upset the balance of the metabolic rate and body temperature, but also stress hormones, thyroid hormones, and sex hormones. The resulting factor? An eruption of symptoms such as weight issues and acne.
Skin being the largest organ of the body is also the one that is most significantly impacted when any organ or gland is malfunctioning. Therefore, if the thyroid gland is not working as it should, then you will notice that your skin will break out more if you have some kind of thyroid disease.
Here are some answers that will help you better understand what thyroid gland is, what its general disorders are and how they affect your skin causing acne conditions to worsen.
Thyroid Gland and Its Disorders
The thyroid gland is located right below the Adam’s apple in your throat and is one of the most important endocrine glands. It is responsible for the production of the thyroid hormone which takes care of the metabolic rate as well as the body temperature. But these are two of the major functions that the thyroid gland is responsible for. There are many other smaller functions that thyroid gland and hormone takes care of including being responsible for the sex hormones as well as absorption of calcium and phosphorus from bones.
If something goes wrong with the thyroid gland and it starts malfunctioning, then the body will not be able to function optimally. This will result in either a severely low or excessively fast metabolic rate. Two of the most common disorders of the thyroid gland are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland becomes extra fast and produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. This causes the metabolism to become very fast. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Fast heart rate
- Weight loss due to no apparent cause
- Foggy brain
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors in hands or fingers
- Muscular weakness
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Excessive sweating
- Anxiety and mood swings
- Sensitivity to heat
Hypothyroidism on the other hand is the complete opposite. In this, the patient’s thyroid gland becomes very slow, so much so that the person’s thyroid hormone needs are unable to be met. Metabolic rate slows down. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Increased weight or inability to lose weight effectively
- Dry skin and dull hair
- Muscular weakness and joint stiffness and pain
- Hair loss
- Puffy face
- Irregular and/or heavy bleeding during menstrual cycle
- Elevated cholesterol
- Slowed heart rate
- Depression, anxiety and foggy brain
- Goiter, is an enlarged thyroid gland
Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are other two most common thyroid conditions. They are autoimmune conditions that ultimately lead to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively. They take place mostly among people who are between the ages of 30-55 years. Their symptoms are almost the same as those of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Connection with Skin Conditions
So what is the connection of the thyroid with the skin? As mentioned before, everything is connected with the skin. If not directly, then indirectly. If something is going wrong inside, it will manifest outside on the skin to show that something is amiss. For example, if a blood vessel breaks, a bruise will form on the skin to show that some damage has taken place below skin, to make you aware that some wrong has occurred.
Similarly, when the thyroid gland is malfunctioning and the hormone is either in excess or too low, then the skin breaks out. This is how your body lets you know that something is not right so that you take some action to make things right. Studies show that many women are wrongly diagnosed with PCOS and many other hormonal disorders when all the while what is actually wrong with them is their thyroid hormone. The real issue is Hashimoto’s, Graves or hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism. In many cases, it is not PCOS nor is it PMS.
Of course the thyroid is not always the cause. But in many cases it is. That is why it must be checked. Whether your doctor recommends it or not, you need to stress that they check it and run tests to see if it could be your thyroid acting up. Particularly if thyroid problems run in your family.
Keep in mind that if you have already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and then have adult acne then it could be that the reason why your acne keeps getting worse is that your hypothyroidism is not as well managed as it should be.
If you haven’t already been diagnosed, but have the symptoms mentioned above, then you need to visit a doctor. Chances are you may have thyroid problems and the acne is an indication of the underlying hypothyroid symptoms. Of course it could always be something else, but it is best to get that blood work done just to be sure.
Your doctor will want to be one hundred percent sure. The doctor will not only physically examine you, but may also do an ultrasound and run some blood work.
If you are overweight, you will be asked to lose some weight. You will also be required to make some dietary changes as processed and junk food only further aggravate hypothyroid symptoms.
It would be best if you start working out too as that would not only help with the weight loss, but will also keep you active and keep stress at bay. Remember, the better your state of mind, the more effectively you will be able to manage your emotional as well as physical condition.