Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition related to hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance can be due to many factors. It can majorly be due to Insulin Resistance and excess Androgen, which leads to a Hyper Oestrogenic and extra Androgen state inside the body. Also, genetics are known to play a role in PCOS. Women suffering from PCOS have irregular periods since high levels of Androgen prevent the Ovaries from releasing eggs. Hence, there is a fluctuation in the menstrual cycle.
Women diagnosed with PCOS can experience symptoms like irregular or delayed menstruation, infertility, and stubborn acne with Hirsutism. In the case of Hirsutism, there is hair growth on the chin and the midriff area.
The Channel 46 collaborate with Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetic Dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, and discusses why dark patches are common in women with PCOS, areas of the body where these dark patches may manifest themselves, & their treatment methods.
Thick Skin & Its Correlation To Dark Patches
- Insulin resistance is known to be the main problem for those in whom PCOS manifests on the skin.
- The dark skin patches are due to the extra free insulin that is there in the blood, which binds to the skin cells, making the skin area thick.
- Insulin resistance manifests itself In these thick areas, which are the areas of friction and body fold.
- Though these thick areas look like dark patches, they actually are nothing but thick skin areas. These areas are scientifically called Acanthosis Nigricans.
- Hyperkeratosis is the underlying phenomenon where there is thickness of the skin.
Areas Of The Body Where Dark Patches May Manifest Themselves
- Obese Women: Neck, under arms, inner aspect of the thighs
- Morbidly Obese: Elbow folds and the knee foldsOn the other hand, dark patches on the knuckles or
- Mildly Obese: Outer aspect of the cheeks
3 Treatment Options For Dark Patches On Your Skin
1. Lead A Healthy Lifestyle
When it comes to the treatment of this condition, the first and foremost change one needs to make is following a healthy lifestyle with the correct diet, exercise, and sleep routines. You need to lose weight, have lean muscle mass, and absolute body fat ratio in the average to the athletic range.
2. Reverse Insulin Resistance
When the overall body fat is reversed or reduced, the Insulin Resistance also reverses into Insulin Sensitivity. Once Insulin Resistance is reversed, the Acanthosis Nigricans reverses on its own as well. While undergoing treatment for Insulin Resistance, creams can be prescribed to patients. These creams can help by working as ‘Keratolytic Agents’. The agents thin the skin, for example, Salicylic Acid, Urea, and Lactic Acid-containing creams.
3. Chemical Peeling Procedures
Certain chemical peeling procedures done by a certified dermatologist using Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids can also work. In Acanthosis Nigricans, what does not work is the lightening creams, the depigmenting, or the bleaching agents, because the depigmenting creams work against the Melanin that is not the cause of the dark patches.
For treating a prolonged condition like Acanthosis Nigricans, a combination of treatments is generally recommended. Firstly, creams and chemical peels can be prescribed to thin the skin and, secondly, lifestyle measures like diet, exercise (under supervision), and guidance from trained nutritionists or doctors should be practised, with a focus on the reversal of insulin resistance.
Since dark patches are caused due to hormonal imbalance and other factors associated with PCOS, do not self-medicate or use any hacks as the condition of your skin could worsen. With the right treatment from an expert and following a healthy lifestyle, the dark patches can be easily reversed.
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