Book Review: The Skincare Bible by Dr Anjali Mahto- Chapter 4
Hi everyone, Tina here (+1 662 830 8246, firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am back with our regular chunk of Dr. Mahto’s Skincare Bible review series. As promised, this one will be about hormones. Hormones influence so many processes in our body that it is no wonder that they impact our skin as well. Usually, we notice the negative impacts...luckily, they are quite predictable and there are trusted and tested remedies for them. We will focus mainly on women in this article, as there is a lot of changes in our hormonal balance throughout our lives, starting with puberty, through pregnancies, and menopause. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
The first time most of us have actually heard about hormones ;-) there they come, storming our bodies and making us sweat more and making our sebaceous glands go crazy, producing lots of sebum and causing acne. About 85% of adolescents suffer from acne. Although it might be seen just as a cosmetic problem that will eventually go away, it should absolutely not be underestimated. It can even lead to psychological problems. The good news is that the treatment is easily available – over the counter or, in more severe cases, prescribed by a dermatologist. We will be talking about acne again in the next blog, where we’ll focus on specific skin concerns.
Did you make it through the puberty in one piece and enjoyed the great-skin-time afterwards? Cool! But fear not, if you get pregnant, your hormones will start acting out again. Being pregnant is a magical time, but apart from the great expectations and the wonderful feeling of creating and nurturing a little human being in your womb, there might be some skin issues coming your way as well. Luckily, not all women are affected by those.
The most common ones are stretch marks. Almost 80% of pregnant women are affected and yes, hormones are the culprits here. Stretch marks do not appear only because of the stretching of the skin, as the name would suggest. They develop due to hormones, which affect skin fibers, making them softer and more prone to tearing. What can we do to prevent or treat them? Although Dr. Mahto reminds us that a large scientific study from 2012 did not prove that topical treatments are an effective prevention, we will not just sit sadly, doing nothing and waiting for them to get us. Use an oil or cream and massage it in your belly, thighs, and breasts, as your mom said. Even the process of massaging can have effects. Plus, there are other factors in play – your genes (did women in your family had a lot of them?), weight gain during pregnancy, and your age (surprisingly, scientific evidence suggests that younger women are more in risk).
There are treatments available, but they usually just make the stretch marks less visible. The best way is to consult an expert, who decides on a suitable treatment based on the severity and your individual condition.
Here we go again...unfortunately, chances are that if you suffered from acne in your teens, it can reappear during your pregnancy. The bad news is that most of the treatments you could grab normally should be avoided to keep the baby safe. Glycolic acid could be helpful, as well as light therapy. The good news is that the blemishes usually fade away as the pregnancy progresses, so hang on in there. If your problems persist, you better get professional advice from a dermatologist.
Melasma or pregnancy mask is a form of hyper-pigmentation on the face. Women are especially worried if it affects the upper lip area, as they fear looking like having a moustache. Usually, the pigmentation disappears after the delivery, but it can re-appear during future pregnancies. For prevention, Dr. Mahto recommends to wear sunscreen, since sun exposure can be a trigger for melasma development. There are also different options for treatment (we will come to those in our review of the chapter on specific skin concerns), but you should wait after the delivery.
There are other types of pigmentation that can affect the nipples and the well-known “linea nigra” – a dark vertical line in the middle of the belly, which usually appears in the second half of the pregnancy and gradually fades away afterwards.
Itchy skin can appear especially in the second half of the pregnancy and here again, the high level of estrogen is to blame. Cool baths and showers can bring relief, as well as using a mild moisturizer and avoiding harsh soaps and perfumed cleansers. However, if the itching wakes you up at night and is unbearable, reach out to your GP and have your blood tested – there is a specific condition called cholestatic pruritus, which should get proper medical attention. There are several other conditions that include itching and rashes, however, they are relatively rare. The general rule of thumb here is: if it does not go away, consult your gynecologist and have it checked.
Post-pregnancy hair loss
Women usually enjoy having great hair during their pregnancies, because of high levels of estrogen and progesterone. However, due to the “return to normal” after the delivery, almost 40% of women suffer from post-partum hair loss. Do not panic and be patient, it usually stabilizes within a year after the delivery.
Approximately from our mid-forties, we can start noticing that our skin is not exactly as it used to be...decrease in levels of estrogen are to blame. For some women it leads to increased oil production and acne, for others skin might become dry and red patches can show. As the hormonal transition goes on, women’s levels of estrogen drop even more, which results in slowing skin metabolism, cell renewal and lipid production. This means that our skin’s barrier function is diminished, which further leads to dryness, loss of hydration and wrinkles. Skin also becomes thinner, due to lesser production of collagen, more fragile and sensitive to external factors, such as wind and high (or low) temperatures. A good, rich moisturizer combined with an antioxidant serum, regular exfoliation and an occasional professional facial treatment should solve most of the issues, though.
The underlying problem, which is the lack of estrogen, can also be treated. One of the ways is a hormone replacement therapy (HRT), another way would be using phyto-oestrogens – plant-based molecules with a very similar structure as estrogen. They can be taken as supplements or just as they come, packed in tofu, soy, yam or linseed. Regular exercise will stimulate your blood circulation and, more importantly, keep your mood up. And if you shine from inside, no wrinkles will spoil your day! If you take care of yourself, your age will remain just a number.
Next time we will start with specific skin concerns and focus on acne as the first topic. Stay tuned!