News & Information

At Surrey Gynaecology we make every effort to keep abreast of the latest developments in medical science and technology as well as being up-to-date with general news around gynacological matters, hormones and the menopause. Here are some items of interest:

Why your hormones could be ageing your skin – and how to spot the signs

A useful article taken from the Telegraph – 20 October 2019 by Rosie Green

I’ve met models who’ve mainlined Dairy Milk and washed their dogs more often than their faces, but never had a zit. I’ve met 40-somethings who’ve drunk the recommended two litres of water a day, virtuously eaten oily fish and maintained a three-step routine, but still found their skin suddenly, improbably dry.

We berate ourselves if we haven’t been diligent in double-cleansing, or if we’ve skipped a few facials or failed to spend the GDP of a small country on the latest serum, because we assume flare-ups, spots, dryness, pigmentation and redness must be our fault. But what if there’s another factor beyond our control that plays a part?

Well, newsflash! There is: hormones. ‘For most of us, our skin’s health comes down to the interplay between our hormones and genetics,’ says Dr Anjali Mahto, author of The Skincare Bible. ‘Acne is unlikely to be down to lifestyle.’

Dermatologists have long recognised the part hormones play in skin’s appearance – and now the rest of us are catching up. ‘We’re educating ourselves about the benefits of a balanced endocrine system, from sleep quality, weight loss and mental health to skin clarity and hair density,’ says Alexia Inge, co-founder of the online beauty retailer Cult Beauty.

For menstruating women, period-tracking technology can help. Apps such as Flo and Clue track the hormonal cycle, providing insights into what’s happening throughout the month. ‘Once you understand when your skin’s likely to behave differently, you can tailor your regimen to pre-empt and cater for these fluctuations,’ explains Inge.

‘A few days before your period begins, your skin might be oilier and more congested, as sebum production ramps up, for example, so you could try using a less rich moisturiser or a product with salicylic acid. A few days after your period starts, however, it might be more sensitive, so you could omit essential oils.’ Here, our experts recommend how to adjust your skincare and supplements to tackle four of the biggest complexion challenges, whatever your age.

1. Teenage acne as an adult?

Acne isn’t just an adolescent issue – we can have surges of hormones as adults too, leading to spotty skin on the cheeks, forehead or chin. ‘Just as happens in puberty, an increase in androgens, [the male hormone] triggers the oil glands to enlarge and cause excess sebum production. Too much oil can block pores and, when bacteria act on this, spots can form,’ says Dr Mahto. Oil and sebum encourage inflammation, causing the redness and tenderness we feel when a spot is brewing.

And no, you’re not imagining that your breakouts are worse pre-period. Oestrogen and progesterone fall before the onset of menstruation, while testosterone levels remain relatively constant. ‘So, the relative ratio of testosterone is higher,’ points out Dr Mahto, ‘which can result in spots.’

How to treat it

Inside: Jenya Di Pierro, a herbal-medicine practitioner and the founder of Cloud Twelve wellness and lifestyle club, suggests taking digestive bitters (available at health stores or online). These blends of herbs stimulate the digestive juices that break down food, and aid healthy liver function, improving skin.

Outside: Dr Mahto advises using a cleansing product that contains salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid that can unclog oily pores), benzoyl peroxide (which counters the bacteria that cause acne), glycolic acid (a chemical exfoliator that can help brighten the skin) and niacinamide (which regulates oil production and reduces inflammation). Try ZitSticka Killa spot patches, £27 for 16, which are soaked in a lotion containing salicylic acid, or Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Double-Correction Daily Care moisturiser, £18, which also contains salicylic acid and is designed to decrease inflammation.

2. Why is my skin so spotty now that I’m pregnant?

Acne is common in the first trimester of pregnancy, affecting as many as half of all pregnant women. The flare-ups are triggered by increased progesterone, which has a similar effect on the skin to testosterone.

How to treat it

Inside: Reducing your stress levels is a good place to start. ‘Stress creates a heady mix of cortisol and glucose, disrupting hormones and increasing vulnerability to skin conditions such as cystic acne,’ explains Henrietta Norton, co-founder of the supplement maker Wild Nutrition. Many traditional treatments for severe acne are not recommended for pregnant women, but the NHS advises that taking the antibiotic erythromycin, in consultation with a medical professional, is safe.

Outside: Pregnancy acne can be more difficult to treat, as you’re restricted in terms of the products you can use. Dr Mahto recommends an over-the-counter salicylic-acid serum with a maximum concentration of two per cent. Try Murad Outsmart Blemish Clarifying Treatment, £35. Combining this with anti-inflammatory blue-light treatments may also be beneficial.

4. Why has my skin become so crepey?

‘Once women reach their 50s and 60s, oestrogen levels are extremely low, so their skin can get very dry, and look thin,’ says cosmetic physician Dr Martin Kinsella of Dr Rita Rakus Clinic. Menopause causes big hormonal changes. ‘You’ll notice skin is more fragile and may take longer to heal.’ There may also be an increase in redness and rosacea, because, while oestrogen falls, the male hormones remain relatively constant.

How to treat it

Inside: Alexia Inge recommends Anatomé’s Menosupport + Renewal capsules, £32 for 60, which contain evening primrose oil and Siberian ginseng. They’re aimed at alleviating common menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings as well as supporting the skin. Jenya Di Pierro advises a diet rich in phytoestrogen – so lots of grains, seeds and pulses.

Outside: Use a moisturiser that prevents or reduces water loss – those containing glycerin or shea butter will help to combat dryness, explains Dr Mahto. Just make sure that any product is fragrance-free so as not to irritate sensitive skin – try Dr Sam’s Flawless Moisturiser, £25.

Switching to a cream cleanser such as Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser, £29, will also be less drying for the complexion. Aesthetic clinician Dr Holly Cole-Hawkins, of Waterhouse Young Clinic, recommends using the Emepelle skincare range, which can reinvigorate the skin’s natural functions by increasing its elasticity, hydration and luminosity. ‘These products were specifically created for women aged 40-plus and address the changes happening in the skin before, during and after menopause,’ she explains.

Source: The Telegraph