Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Related Skin Problems: A Dermatologist Answers All Your Queries

As a dermatologist, I can tell you that PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is becoming an increasingly common problem as many of my patients suffer from this condition. In fact, the latest data shows that today, 20% of the female population in India is affected by PCOS.

While PCOS can pose certain health problems and can increase a woman’s risks for some conditions such as diabetes, endometrial cancer, and hypertension, it can also affect a woman’s physical appearance. However, with advances in medicine and technology, there are several things that you can do to reduce these effects and manage PCOS effectively.
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Common Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Skin & Hair Problems

“For women suffering from extreme hair loss or male pattern balding, I recommend medications such as Minoxidiland Finasteride, which are the only 2 USFDA approved drugs in the world to slow hair loss and promote hair regrowth”

The physical changes that a woman with PCOS experiences are due to the hormonal changes associated with the condition. Acne and oily skin are among the most typical symptoms of PCOS. Conversely, they are also likely to suffer from dry and dull skin on their limbs.

The condition also causes a rise in androgens, which are male hormones that have a masculinizing effect. The hormonal imbalance often causes hirsutism (excess hair growth), coupled with male pattern baldness. Nothing can be more mortifying to a woman than going bald and at the same time sprouting a beard and mustache!

PCOS skin and hair problems should be treated with internal medications as well as external applications. Your gynecologist would probably suggest that you visit an endocrinologist (hormone specialist) who would recommend medications such as metformin or clomiphene to help control your hormonal imbalance.

In some cases, if a woman is suffering from extreme hair loss or male pattern balding, I recommend medications such as Minoxidiland Finasteride – which are the only 2 USFDA approved drugs in the world to slow hair loss and promote hair regrowth.

Topical applications for acne would vary greatly from person to person, as each individual has a unique reaction to any medicated skin care product. I would advise anyone with acne to seek a personalized acne skin care plan from a dermatologist in order to control this problem and prevent acne flare-ups.

Should Women With PCOS Avoid Cosmetics And Face Scrubs?

“Face scrubs contain rough granules or particles that can damage acne scars and widened pores, making them even more noticeable”

Women with PCOS tend to have sensitive skin that is prone to hyperpigmentation (darkened scars), which is why they often use foundation and other cosmetics to cover it up. However, many of these cosmetics can cause skin irritation, which in turn will further aggravate acne.

If you must use cosmetics, avoid unbranded Chinese products and instead invest in good cosmetics that are less likely to cause a skin reaction. Also, make sure that you remove every trace of makeup as soon as you get home and then wash your face thoroughly.

Where face scrubs are concerned, I always tell my patients who have acne or acne scars to avoid them. Face scrubs contain rough granules or particles that can damage acne scars and widened pores, making them even more noticeable.

Is Laser Hair Removal A Good Option For Women With PCOS?

“Laser hair treatment reduces the thickness of hair, as well as the amount of hair growth, but it does not guarantee complete hair removal or satin-smooth skin”

First of all, I believe that the term laser hair removal is misleading – it should be laser hair reduction, because that’s what the laser hair treatment does – it reduces the thickness of the hair as well as the amount of hair growth, but it does not guarantee satin-smooth skin!

I have been working with lasers extensively for the last 5 years and I have seen that some women with PCOS do laser hair reduction and are initially very happy with the results. However, in time the hair starts to grow thick once again since they did not treat the underlying problem – which is the hormonal imbalance. Your hormonal medications are the most important aspect of any PCOS medication plan and simply getting superficial treatments will not give you the results you want.

Furthermore, it is important to have realistic expectations – I always tell my patients to expect 60-70 per cent reduction in hair thickness as this is the general result and if they get anything more, they should consider themselves lucky.

While your PCOS medications will help to restore your hormonal balance, you should do your bit too! Follow a healthy diet and avoid junk food, have a regular sleep pattern, follow a daily exercise schedule, and drink a lot of water throughout your day. The simple changes you make will have a ripple effect which will improve your health and be reflected in your skin, hair, and smile!

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