Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system (adrenal glands, hypothalamus, kidneys, ovaries, pancreas, pituitary gland and thyroid). They regulate processes such as development, digestion, growth, metabolism, mood control and reproduction.
Hormonal imbalances—whether due to pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, endocrine disorders, or stress—cause reactions in the body and skin that can lead to rosacea symptoms. While hormone levels are difficult to detect and can fluctuate unpredictably, medical testing may help determine if hormonal imbalances are at the root of the rosacea problem. The following hormones are mainly associated with rosacea.
Estrogen and Rosacea
Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce oil gland activity and size, tighten pores, create strong collagen and elastin, promote hydration and ward off aging. However, as estrogen production slows temporarily during menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause, rosacea symptoms start to appear.
Lower and slower estrogen production cause increased oil production, swelling, inflammation, slower cell renewal, collagen and elastin loss and dryness. The oil creates a perfect haven for the microscopic mite that thrives in rosacea sufferers. The inflammation and loss of elasticity weakens capillaries, which need elasticity to expand and contract according to blood flow.
Testosterone and Rosacea
Testosterone increases with menopause, triggers oil production and creates the ideal environment for the microscopic skin mite. People mistakenly assume the bumps and pimples they see with menopause are acne, not knowing that hormonal imbalances of menopause can cause rosacea too.
DHEA and Rosacea
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a precursor to sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), also plays a role in the development of rosacea. Aging, menopause, high sugar diets, stress and medications can decrease DHEA, leaving the skin vulnerable to the negative effects of cortisol and an impaired immune system. Acute or adrenal stress can raise DHEA, occurring when adrenals attempt to produce cortisol to cope with stress, but do not produce enough, resulting in a hormonal imbalance.
Addison’s Disease, a rare adrenal insufficiency disease, plus other endocrine disorders are also linked with rosacea. HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and DHEA are considered anti-aging hormones. Production of HGH normally declines with age, especially in women after menopause. Thyroid hormones cause skin to become warm, sweaty and flushed, which are key rosacea symptoms.