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A Balancing Act: Hormones and the Skin

Throughout her life, a woman may blame many things on her hormones: unpredictable emotions, weight gain and even changes in her skin, hair and nails.//

These changes occur as the levels of hormones in the body increase and decrease, or if any abnormalities in hormone levels occur. A dermatologist can provide treatment options which can address the changes that occur during a woman’s lifetime.

Speaking today at ACADEMY ’06, the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer scientific meeting, dermatologist Margaret E. Parsons, M.D., F.A.A.D., assistant clinical professor at the University of California at Davis in Sacramento, Calif.,discussed how the fluctuations in hormones can affect the skin, hair and nails.

Puberty and Hormones
Acne typically first appears during adolescence and can persist well into adulthood. The cause of acne is most often linked to androgens, which are the hormones that stimulate the sebaceous – or oil – glands in the skin. When the sebaceous glands are over-stimulated by androgens, acne flare-ups can occur.

For women affected by acne, especially those in the early-to-mid twenties and older, oral contraceptives (OCPs) can be an effective part of their acne treatment plan in conjunction with other therapies. Current oral contraceptives help decrease androgen levels, and therefore decrease acne.

In addition, a dermatologist may prescribe oral medications or topical creams, gels, or lotions with vitamin A derivatives, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics to help unblock the pores and reduce bacteria.

“Although new acne treatments are developed every day, a cure for acne has not yet been developed. As such, many patients choose to self-treat or experiment with unconventional treatments,” stated Dr. Parsons. “Yet many of these treatments are based on anecdotal observations and have not been rigorously tested by science. A visit to a dermatologist is the best way to determine why acne
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