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Skin Issues Due To Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Mar 2018
Dr Preethi Nagaraj
MBBS, MD, Consultant Dermatologist, Twacha Skin And Hair Clinic

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is an endocrine disorder with a prevalence of about 9.1 per cent among Indian teenagers. It is characterized by less frequent periods, obesity, infertility and skin changes due to excessive male hormones. Though the patient may have menstrual irregularities, it is usually a dermatologist who suspects and diagnoses PCOS, as the patient’s complaints will mostly be with regard to skin and hair problems. This may be a cosmetic concern for the patient, but PCOS can also be associated with diabetes, hyperlipidemia and the risk of heart disease. Here are some skin problems that should alert you about an underlying hormonal issue. 

Unlike regular acne or pimples, acne in a female with PCOS is stubborn and does not respond well to the usual medications, either topical or oral. Even if the patient initially responds to treatment, the pimples promptly recur on stopping the same. They may also have a flare up before each menstrual cycle. The pimples which tend to occur along the jaw line and the chin are often large, nodular and cystic leaving behind scars.

Hirsutism refers to thick, coarse hair occurring on the chin/upper lip and chest areas (male pattern distribution) in females. This is a very embarrassing problem that causes significant distress to the patient. It occurs due to excessive male hormones produced by the ovaries in PCOS. Many females are deeply disturbed by the male-like beard hair and can suffer from psychological problems due to this. Moreover, the frequent removal of the thick hair on the chin and beard area by shaving, waxing and epilation can result in bumps, infection and scars.