Is There A Link Between Thyroid Issues And Acne?

Adult acne may come as a surprise, especially if you believed that acne would be left behind with the embarrassing high school photos and other discomforts of adolescence. However, some people do in fact experience acne over the age of 25 years, according to Cleveland Clinic. Most of the time, adult acne is due to hormonal imbalances. This type of acne is usually diagnosed as acne vulgaris, an inflammation of the skin's hair follicles. Harvard Health Publishing states that four factors directly contribute to acne, which are bacteria, inflammation, excessive oil, and clogged pores. There are also indirect causes of acne, like diet and product usage.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association reports that many people continue to experience acne flare-ups as late as their fifth decade of life. Sometimes, the hormonal imbalances that lead to adult acne come from changes during the menstrual cycle or menopause for women. Pregnancy is another period in a woman's life when hormonal changes are rampant and acne can be the result. Other times, stress can lead to adult acne, or you could have a genetic predisposition to it. If medications or topical products like cosmetics and shampoos have been ruled out as a reason for adult acne, it's likely that a hormonal imbalance can be the reason behind the pimples that can appear on your face, neck, chest, and back. There's even the possibility of thyroid issues being directly connected to adult acne, and here's why.

Are thyroid issues and acne connected?

Your thyroid is located at the base of your neck and shaped like a butterfly, per Cleveland Clinic. The thyroid can be thought of as the captain of your hormones, as it regulates them within your body. If you experience symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, having your thyroid checked out is generally the first step to determining the nitty gritty of the imbalance. However, thyroid issues don't typically cause acne, though there are some ways that the two are connected. An underactive thyroid is a condition called hypothyroidism and can result in dry skin, which in turn can lead to extra dead skin cells filling pores and potentially causing acne. Hypothyroidism can result in other side effects besides just dry skin, which include fatigue, weight gain, thinning of hair, joint pain or stiffness, muscle weakness, and mood fluctuations (via WebMD). 

While an underactive thyroid might not be an actual cause of adult acne, there are other thyroid conditions that might. A 2017 study published in Dermato Endocrinology found a link between women with thyroid autoimmunity and simultaneous adult acne. For female patients with acne vulgaris, researchers of the study made the suggestion that thyroid autoantibody testing be conducted so that potential autoimmune issues can be detected early and treated.