4 skin issues that can be caused by your period
Your period can have a knock-on effect on many bodily processes, with hormones fluctuating throughout the month and creating unexpected symptoms. Your skin is just one area that can be affected, and throughout the month you might struggle with issues like:
- Oily skin
- Spots and blemishes
- Sensitive skin.
In this blog, I'll explain why these symptoms might be cropping up and include my top tips to keep your skin feeling healthy.
1. Oily skin
Around the time of your period, your hormones are fluctuating and changing in preparation to shed the lining of your womb. As we know, the balance of your sex hormones is very sensitive and, if the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone becomes skewed, various issues can crop up.
One of these issues is oily skin, which can occur when levels of progesterone and testosterone are higher than oestrogen. This is especially likely right before your period, when oestrogen levels are at their lowest.
When these hormones are dominant, your production of sebum (an oily substance from glands in the skin) can increase and leave your skin feeling oily. You might also notice that your hair is greasier than usual thanks to this excess sebum being produced.
Managing your weight is important when it comes to hormones. Being over or underweight can disrupt this delicate balance; testosterone levels can increase if you are overweight, causing excessive oiliness. On the other hand, if you are underweight, your sex hormones can be blunted which means they dip below what is normal for you, and testosterone can come out on top once again!
Opt for wholefoods instead of processed alternatives and cook with fresh ingredients. Don't count calories or obsess over low-fat alternatives, as these can leave you undernourished and aren't all that great for your health.
2. Spots and blemishes
Excess production of sebum can also cause the pores to swell, which means they are more likely to become blocked by dead skin cells and bacteria. So, if your testosterone levels are dominant, this can add to the appearance of angry, sebum-loaded spots.
For younger women, it might take a while for hormones to settle down into a routine, so bigger fluctuations can result in more oiliness and spots.
Diet can also play a role in the appearance of spots and blemishes. If you have a poor diet, this can put pressure on your digestive system and liver. As a result, toxins can take an alternative route and leave the body through your skin. It's best to avoid fatty foods, refined sugar and excess alcohol – despite what your cravings might be telling you!
Try keeping a diary to track when spots are most likely to be an issue for you. Keep this going for a couple of months to track if your symptoms are cyclical – if they appear at around the same time in your cycle each month, they could be related to your hormones.
If hormones are thought to be responsible for your repeated breakouts, a doctor might prescribe hormonal contraception to help calm your hormones down and avoid drastic fluctuations from causing issues.
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3. Dry skin
For some women, dry skin can be more of an issue at the start of their period each month, when oestrogen is at its lowest. Oestrogen helps to hydrate the skin and joints, and low levels of this important sex hormone can lead to dry, thinner looking skin.
This can also cause wrinkles and lines to appear more pronounced, if your skin isn't as plump and hydrated as usual.
A gentle daily moisturiser can be useful for dry skin, especially during the winter months when the weather is cold and harsh, and central heating can dry out your skin.
4. Sensitive skin
Low oestrogen at this time in your cycle can also lead to sensitive, easily-irritated skin. You should be especially careful in the sun as your skin can be thinner and might be more sensitive to sunlight.
Prostaglandins can also cause trouble for your skin. They are perhaps more known for the role they play in worsening period cramps, but their inflammatory nature can also make your skin more prone to irritation. What's more, these inflammatory chemicals can make you more sensitive to pain, so your skin might be more easily affected by harsh weather and other factors.
While it's important to maintain good hygiene, when it comes to your skin I'd advise against using harsh scrubs or cosmetics full of chemicals – opt for natural products to keep your skin clear and free from irritation.
Results: Which skin issue troubles you most?
Over 40% of you told us that dry skin troubles you most out of the above skin issues. Drinking plenty of water can help to hydrate your skin, and using a daily moisturiser is a good idea during the cold winter months.