Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is nowadays a leading health problem faced by women of reproductive age all over the world. It’s a hormonal disorder, with symptoms including irregular periods, weight gain, excess body hair, blemishes, acne, and other skin problems that can be quite frustrating to deal with. To determine if you have PCOS, the doctor will confirm that you have at least 2 of these 3 symptoms:
- Irregular periods or no periods, due to lack of ovulation
- Higher than normal levels of male hormones may lead to excess hair on the face and body, acne, or thinning scalp hair
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries
PCOS cannot be cured but it can be managed well with lifestyle changes and help treat symptoms so that it doesn’t worsen with time. Hormonal imbalances cause many changes in your skin leading to issues like dry skin, inflammation, itchiness, and hair loss. Skin dryness becomes exceptionally defined during winter as harsh weather can aggravate dryness and itchiness a lot more. Since winter is just around the corner, let’s go through a list of things that can be done to prevent PCOS-induced skin irritation and itching.
- Use a hydrating moisturizer: Invest in a good moisturizer or body butter. Apply on the entire body after a warm bath. Make sure to apply hand cream every time you wash your hands with soap. Alcohol-based sanitizers can be extremely drying. opt for one with an emollient like aloe vera.
- Avoid products with fragrance if you have sensitive skin. Coconut oil is also a wonderful natural moisturizer. Follow a good facial skincare regime for both morning and night but at the same time avoid using too many products. If you have an itchy scalp with dandruff, use an anti-dandruff shampoo for the same. Untreated dandruff can also worsen acne.
- Lower your shower temperature: A hot water shower is very relaxing on a cold day. But it can strip the skin of its natural oils making it drier. Avoid spending a lot of time in the water tub, steam bath, or sauna, and keep shower water as cool as possible.
- Take care of acne: Dry skin can worsen acne. When your skin is dry, it ends up producing more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture, and this leads to clogged pores and acne.
- Use a gentle cleanser and exfoliate and moisturize regularly. You can also try a
a salicylic acid-based cleanser for acne. It is a chemical exfoliant derived from the bark of willow trees. It helps in getting rid of excess oil and sebum, and exfoliates, thus preventing acne. Since salicylic acid can be a bit drying, do not forget to moisturize your skin after cleansing. Tea tree oil has also been found effective against acne.
- Use a humidifier: Use of room heaters in cold weather can have a drying effect on your skin. Use a humidifier to prevent the worsening of your skin condition.
- Wear cotton or natural fibers if possible. Synthetic fibers can irritate the skin making it itchier. If you are suffering from itchy skin, try wearing natural fiber clothing instead of synthetic ones.
Natural ways to manage PCOS symptoms
Manage PCOS holistically: It’s extremely important to manage PCOS to manage your symptoms and improve your skin condition. Given below are some holistic measures which you can try to implement in your life for better PCOS management.
- Losing excess weight helps to reduce androgen or male hormone in your body which in turn helps in improving symptoms to a great extent.
- Regular moderate activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, helps control weight and insulin levels. In addition, exercise is known to reduce blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day even if you do not feel that thirsty in winter. This will keep you hydrated and improve your skin condition.
- Reduce anxiety and tension. Cortisol (stress hormones) production is more in PCOS women causing anxiety, despair, and stress. Yoga can help women with PCOS manage their anxiety, menstrual cycles, and other metabolic factors while reducing abdominal pain. Pranayama, or breathing exercises, helps relieve tension and relax the mind. Take care to have enough sleep every day to manage stress effectively.
- It is also important to maintain good health and control mental strain by eating a well-balanced diet and following a calm lifestyle. It’s important to incorporate specific dietary features into your daily routines, such as lowering sugar, salt, refined carbohydrates, and dairy consumption, eating various colorful vegetables and fruits, and avoiding fried foods and processed junk foods. In addition, include superfoods like ginger, dates, fenugreek, turmeric, tulsi, cinnamon, and whole grains in your diet to enhance your general health and strengthen your internal organs. Include foods like sprouts, seeds, prebiotics, and probiotics in your diet. If you have any nutritional deficiency, consult a doctor to take the right supplements.
Visit your dermatologist if you are unable to manage itchy skin with home remedies, you must consult a doctor to avoid worsening the situation. Your skin problem may be more complicated and a doctor should be able to diagnose your skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, or bacterial or fungal infections, and will be able to prescribe a more effective treatment. Apart from dry, itchy skin, women with PCOS may notice the development of skin tags or a condition known as acanthosis nigricans, which are patches of dark, thickened, velvety skin that usually appear on the neck or armpits, but can also occur on other sites like the thighs or vulva.3 Both of these are the result of the hormonal changes associated with PCOS, namely insulin resistance. Therefore, do not ignore severe symptoms and consult a qualified doctor.