Hormonal changes can result in weight gain, weight loss, acne, mood swings, and… eczema? Eczema may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of changing hormone levels, but researchers know that hormones play a role in the itchy skin condition. Understanding why hormones change and how they influence eczema can help you better manage your skin.
Can Hormones Cause Eczema?
The exact cause of eczema remains unknown. However, researchers know that genetics, bacterial imbalance in the skin microbiome, an overactive immune system, and inflammation are at play. Other factors such as hormones, allergens, diet, and irritation from household products often trigger and exacerbate symptoms.
How Hormones Influence Eczema
Hormonal fluctuations could be the culprit behind eczema that seems to appear out of nowhere or symptoms that suddenly worsens. Hormonal changes can impact your eczema during multiple life stages.
During adolescence, children undergoing puberty experience rapidly changing hormone levels. While many children outgrow childhood eczema at this time, those with severe disease or later onset may not. Research shows that girls are at a greater risk of developing or experiencing worsening eczema during adolescence. One study found that girls had a higher skin pH and lower hydration of the outer layer of skin than boys in adolescence, putting girls at greater risk of developing eczema. How is this related to hormones? Fluctuating hormone levels are known to dry out the skin.
Researchers have found that many women experience worsened eczema symptoms during the premenstrual period, the week before menstruation begins. During the study, women with moderate-to-severe eczema experienced an increase in itch and a lower quality of life due to their skin condition. Before a woman’s period begins, she experiences a sudden drop in estrogen, which is thought to contribute to these exacerbated eczema symptoms.
Eczema is the most common skin condition that occurs during pregnancy, and symptoms usually develop during the first and second trimesters. About half of women with a preexisting eczema diagnosis report that their symptoms worsen during pregnancy, although for others, the skin can improve. Eczema can also flare during the postpartum period.
Why can pregnancy lead to new or worsening eczema symptoms? Changes in estrogen levels play a role. Additionally, the body’s immune system shifts towards what’s called a Type 2 T helper response. That’s normal in pregnancy and helps protect the baby, but it’s also associated with eczema symptoms.
Perimenopause and Menopause
During perimenopause and menopause, women experience decreasing estrogen levels. This hormonal change leads to a loss of water in the skin, leaving it dry and the skin barrier weak. Both of these factors combined create the perfect storm for eczema to flare up.
A weakened skin barrier also leaves your body more susceptible to environmental irritants, so it’s important to be aware of possible external triggers. Notice how your skin reacts to nickel-containing jewelry, wool clothing, pollens, grass, topical beauty products, and household cleaners.
Transgender patients receiving gender affirming hormone therapy undergo skin changes and can develop new dermatological symptoms, including eczema. A literature review of skin issues in transgender patients noted the presence of eczema in both female-to-male and male-to-female patients undergoing hormone therapy. Another study found a significant association between feminizing hormone therapy and atopic dermatitis.
Stress is a well-known trigger of eczema, and it all comes down to hormones. When you’re experiencing stress, your body enters fight-or-flight mode. In this stressed state, your body produces larger amounts of cortisol and adrenaline.
Excess cortisol, also referred to as the “stress hormone,” can suppress your immune system and set off an inflammatory reaction in the skin, leading to eczema flare-ups.
Caring for Eczema During Hormonal Shifts
Caring for your skin is one of the most powerful, proactive ways to manage your eczema as you navigate hormonal changes across different stages of life. And hormones are just one factor in eczema. Dermatologists know now that bacterial imbalances in the skin microbiome play a major role in eczema flares.
Gladskin Eczema Cream with Micreobalance® restores balance to the skin microbiome. It is clinically proven to reduce eczema symptoms, including itch and redness—plus it’s steroid-free, clinically tested, cleanly formulated, and moisturizing. Most people see improvements in as little as a few days.
Gladskin user Sarah B. noted in a review that Gladskin helped her manage the eczema flare she experienced during pregnancy. “This is the best non-steroid product I’ve used for my terrible eczema that I’m suffering during pregnancy,” she wrote. “If I use it twice a day it helps keep my hand eczema at bay.”