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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome exhibits symptoms on your face

Hair loss can cause distress for women with PCOS.
Hair loss can cause distress for women with PCOS.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) also known as Stein Leventhal Syndrome, is a female endocrine disorder that causes many (poly) cysts to form on the ovaries. There are several indicators of this disorder including infertility and obesity. 

External symptoms are often manifested on the face, jaw line and scalp.    Acne, Hirsutism (excessive hair growth), receding hairlines or thinning hair, and hyper-pigmentation can be present with PCOS.

Androgens (male hormones) become more prevalent in women with PCOS. These hormones cause excessive hair growth on the face, thinning hair on the scalp, various grades of acne, and darkened patches of skin sometimes called hyper-pigmentation. Many times the acne will present itself along the jaw line, below the ears and down onto the neck with PCOS.

If you are anywhere in the reproductive stage of life and are experiencing these symptoms or irregular menstrual cycles, you should check with your doctor.  PCOS can also involve insulin disorders and diabetes.  There are several ways to diagnose this disorder, including ultrasound of the ovaries and blood tests. Your doctor may prescribe appropriate hormone therapy, birth control pills or other medications.

Diet and Exercise: A diet that helps manage insulin levels and attention to nutritional needs and exercise can make a positive impact for you in managing this difficult condition.

There are steps you can take that will help you control the external symptoms of this disease.

  • Laser hair removal can help to keep excessive facial hair at bay. Finding a laser hair removal service that understands PCOS is invaluable.  A great resource in Denver is Affordable Laser.  Their technicians are all RNs and familiar with PCOS.
  • Hair Loss:  Certain levels of testosterone in the body may cause hair loss.  Dihydrotestosterone comes out onto the scalp, and creates a thickened sebum that often destroys the hair follicle. There are shampoos that are specially formulated to counteract this process. Check with your hair dresser.
  • Acne:  Skin with acne related to PCOS is often difficult to treat and clear. It is important to get your hormones balanced.   Success with treating your acne will take time.  Manifestations of this disorder are different for each case, and it will be a definite research project to get into balance.

Skin care products that are designed to control and treat acne can be beneficial.  Look for products that contain exfoliants, bacteria control, and appropriate moisturizers for your skin type.

  • Exfoliation helps to keep skin turning over and prevent plugs and comedones. Common exfoliants are in the alpha-hydroxy family, such as glycolic or lactic acid.
  • Bacteria associated with acne must be controlled with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but do not over-dry your skin, as this creates more issues.  
  • Moisturizers in Colorado are very important, even if you feel “moisture phobic”.  Your skin will age faster and your natural moisture levels will be compromised in this climate unless you protect it with good hydration.

PCOS can affect your health for life, even into menopause. It definitely affects your appearance in several ways, and is often devastating for those who experience severe acne and hair growth. If you think you might have it, do your research, talk to your doctor, and get the right treatments.



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