Located just below the Adams apple, the thyroid gland produces hormones that control growth, metabolism and development. Hypothyroidism is a condition where there are abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones in the tissues and blood stream. Since the hormones affect all cells in the body, the signs and symptoms of low thyroid function are widespread, and in most cases, subtle.
Acne and Hypothyroidism
If you’ve tried methods like oil cleansing and still experience abnormal levels of acne, there could be more to your acne than just your pores being clogged. Your skin is among the organs likely to show a wide range of clinical signs related to hypothyroidism. Drying and thickening of the skin, particularly over the knees, elbows and other joints is quite common, and so too is to some extend, hair loss. Hypothyroidism can also result in the accumulation of carotene, which is a yellow orange pigment that can cause discoloration of the soles and palms.
Acne, particularly premenstrual acne is the most common skin condition that can be caused or worsened by low thyroid function. There are two ways that this condition can lead to, or worsen acne. These are:
The progesterone/thyroid connection to acne
Hypothyroidism is known to cause undesirable changes in the body’s lipid levels and one common result is an elevation in the levels of total and LDL cholesterol in the blood stream. This is because when thyroid function is sub optimal, the liver stops filtering cholesterol from the blood stream as it should. This means that the cholesterol wont be made available to all the tissues that need it to function, and the most notable effect is the reduced production of progesterone. It is important for progesterone to be maintained in a certain ratio with its partner hormone, estrogen.
Having low progesterone levels in relation to estrogen levels can lead to acne by the way increasing insulin levels which leads to excess androgens in the skin, while amplifying testosterone and DHT conversion in the skin. DHT is a potent acne causing form of testosterone.
The Vitamin A connection to acne
One of the best known treatments for acne involves retinoid drugs, which are Vitamin A derivatives. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin found in eggs, liver, meats and dairy in the form of retinoids. Its water soluble precursors, carotenoids, are found in carrots as well as in red, yellow and orange veggies. Vitamin A fights acne by
- Encouraging the regeneration of keratin in the skin. Keratin helps prevent dead skin cells from sloughing off and clogging pores. This may otherwise cause inflammation and result in acne.
- Suppressing androgen formation (they are a major cause of acne).
- Protecting fats from oxidation. This prevents inflammation and cell damage
- Reducing the amount of oil the skin produces, and this also reduces pore- clogging.
However, if you have low thyroid function, you wont be able to effectively convert the carotenoids to vitamin A, not matter how many carrots you consume.
If you suffer from acne or other undesirable skin changes that cannot be explained that do not respond to treatment, or if you are diagnosed with abnormalities such as low HDL and high LDL levels, best ask your doctor to check your thyroid’s performance. Sub optimal thyroid function is often overlooked, but can be easily treated. Administering the thyroid hormone reverses the signs and symptoms of this disorder.
Here are some tips that might help you balance your hormone levels: