The American Thyroid Association (ATA) states that an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of those are unaware of their condition, with women being five to eight times more likely than men to suffer from thyroid problems.
The most common types of thyroid disease involve either an underactive or overactive thyroid, and medications can help treat the disease and keep symptoms under control. Both of these conditions, however, can negatively affect skin, and require a little extra care to help skin maintain its health.
Thyroid Diseases Affect Hormone Production
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that rests in the middle of the lower neck. It produces hormones that help control metabolism and affect functions like heart rate, breathing, energy, body weight, muscle strength, body temperature, and much more.
The two diseases that may affect the thyroid include:
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): The thyroid acts sluggish, and fails to produce as much hormone as it should to meet the body’s needs. Symptoms include fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, poor concentration, and depression.
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid): The thyroid is in overdrive, producing more hormones than the body needs. Symptoms include weight loss, heat intolerance, anxiety, and sometimes sore, gritty eyes.
In most cases, it is a faulty immune system that leads to thyroid disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid cells as if they were foreign cells, and creates the resulting overproduction or underproduction of hormones.
More rarely, it may be an iodine deficiency causing the thyroid problems, or an inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Signs of thyroid disease can develop on the hair, nails, and skin. In fact, changes in the skin are often the first signs of thyroid malfunction. That’s because thyroid hormones are important regulators of skin homeostasis, so if the thyroid is not working properly, the skin won’t be able to regulate itself as well.
How to Treat Hypothyroidism Skin Problems
Symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may include the following:
- Very dry skin
- Scale-like thickening of the skin
- Flaky skin
- Rough skin
- Yellowish hue on the skin, particularly the palms
- Dull skin
- Facial swelling
- Premature aging
- Acne breakouts
If you notice these symptoms and they seem different from what you’ve experienced in the past, check with your doctor. Treating thyroid disease can help ease symptoms on the skin as well.
Then, follow these tips to help restore the health of your skin.
- Use mild cleansers: Harsh cleansers with sulfates can irritate and dry skin. Choose mild and cream-based cleansers to gently clean without stripping or drying.
- Exfoliate gently: You need to get rid of that buildup of dead skin cells on the surface. Don’t use aggressive scrubs, as they can make tiny tears in the skin and cause infections or acne. Instead, try gentle fruit acid exfoliators, or a charcoal-exfoliating product. Use at least 2-3 times a week after cleansing.
- Use a skin brush: Dry brushing can help you get rid of some of those flaky, dry areas before you step into the shower. Use one on your face and body before bathing, moving in circular motions.
- Use a hydrating toner: Immediately after cleansing, use a moisturizing toner to help prepare your skin for a moisturizer. If you use a clarifying toner, you could make the dryness worse. Our Rescue + Relief Spray works great in this step.
- Moisturize deeply: Next, use a deeply moisturizing cream or balm to help treat those super dry areas. If you have flaky, scaly skin, a balm will probably work better than anything else. Our Restorative Skin Balm is a good option. Then be sure to moisturize all over to help prevent future dry spots.
- Hydrate from the inside out: Your skin needs moisture from the inside too, so be sure you’re drinking enough water every day, and eat more water-filled fruits and vegetables.
- Use a humidifier: If you live in a dry climate, use a humidifier in your home so that dry air doesn’t pull so much moisture from your skin.
- Change your makeup: Look at your makeup products. It’s best to dump all of the powders, and go for hydrating, liquid- or cream-based products for your primer, foundation, and even your blush.
- Fill in your brows: Hypothyroidism can lead to hair loss. If your brows are looking thin, use a pencil in a shade that matches your natural hair color to fill out and extend the brow line.
How to Treat Hyperthyroidism Skin Problems
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) on the skin may include:
- Thinning skin
- Inflamed skin
- Skin flushing
- Smooth and moist skin; excessive sweating
Follow these tips to help restore the health of your skin:
- Cool inflammation: Skin is likely to feel hot and inflamed, so you want to regularly cool it down. Wash in lukewarm (rather than hot) water, and use a cooling misting spray throughout the day to keep inflammation at bay. Our Rescue + Relief Spray has natural anti-inflammatory and cooling ingredients that help cool the skin. It feels especially good if you store it in the refrigerator.
- Eat more fish: Hyperthyroidism can increase breakdown of essential fatty acids in the skin, which are necessary to help it look plump and full. Try eating more fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and tuna, and consider taking a fish oil supplement to restore fatty acid content.
- Use blotting cloths: If you tend to sweat a lot during the day, using blotting cloths to remove the sheen from your skin.
- Boost collagen: Collagen can help keep skin from thinning out too much, so try to get more both in your diet and your skin care products. Bone broth, wild salmon, leafy greens, and citrus fruits are all rich in nutrients that help boost collagen production. Then add a vitamin C serum to your skin care routine (it boosts collagen), and look for anti-aging products with copper and peptides.
- Use anti-inflammatory moisturizers: Since inflammation is a big problem for you, and inflammation damages skin, you want to tame that inflammation at every opportunity. Choose light moisturizers that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients like natural extracts and oils, turmeric, chamomile, and green tea. (Our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion are both rich in anti-inflammatories.)
- Try natural brightening products: If you’re struggling with dark spots, step up your exfoliation, and try brightening products with natural lightening ingredients like licorice, kojic acid, arbutin, niacinamide, vitamin C, and lactic acid.
- Ditch irritating products: Look at the ingredient list on all of your skin care products, and ditch those with a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce. These are likely to be chemicals that can irritate your skin. Go for fragrance-free, safe products from companies that carefully choose to use natural and gentle ingredients.
Do you struggle with skin problems because of thyroid disease?