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Low Testosterone and Acne

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Testosterone is the primary driver of male wellness.

From metabolic health to strength, and from personality to appearance, this hormone makes you who you are – the way you look and the way you feel.

Acne can be devastating for-self confidence.

And with the first thing people see being your face, it’s important that you feel confident in your own skin.

In this article we take a look at the relationship between low testosterone, acne and other similar dermatology complaints.

Could low hormone levels really be the cause of skin issues?

Let’s take a look.


Low Testosterone and Health

Your late teens and throughout your twenties are great years.

You find it easy to pack on muscle bulk and your lean physique tells a story of someone who looks after themself and trains hard in the gym.

You have an assertive temperament that’s combined with self-confidence, and your square jaw and broad shoulders showcase your masculinity well.

And finally your libido is unrelenting. Your sex drive, appetite and performance are at their absolute maximum.

Why?

Your testosterone levels have peaked.

Testosterone begins to fall once you hit your thirties

The problem is that once you reach the fourth decade of life, you begin to lose these male characteristics.

From the age of thirty, your testosterone levels fall by around one to two percent per year. By the age of 45, forty percent of men will suffer the side effects of hypogonadism – low testosterone.

By the age of 60, most men will have clinically low hormone levels.

The warning signs of low testosterone

It’s amazing how quickly you begin to see the side effects of hypogonadism.

Because androgen hormones control and regulate so many facets of your body and mind, you’ll find that as your testosterone levels decrease, both your physical and emotional health begin to decline.

Here are the main side effects of low T:

  • Increased risk of metabolic illness – from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, low hormone levels elevate the risk of a number of disorders. They even increase the risk of early death.
  • Reduced libido – not only does your sex drive decrease, even your sperm count, performance and stamina will suffer.
  • Reduced anabolic effects – you’ll begin to lose muscle and strength and your endurance and athleticism will also drop.
  • Increased belly fat – with hormonal changes and muscle loss comes a decrease in metabolism and the development of ‘central adiposity’.
  • Mood disturbances – you’re much more likely to suffer from low energy, depression and anxiety.

Muscular bodybuilder on black background

Is There a Link Between Low Testosterone and Acne?

Many of the side effects of reduced androgen levels relate to health.

From an elevated risk of metabolic illness, to an increase in cognitive and vascular disease, low T can cause considerable unwanted responses.

And of course, some of these side effects are performance based – you can’t pack on slabs of muscle like you used to, and even missing a week at the gym seems to cause an increase in body fat.

But what you might not know is that low testosterone and acne are also closely related too.

How does acne occur?

Acne is caused by hormonal changes that result in zits and breakouts on the surface of your skin.

In order to maintain its lubrication and to keep it waterproof, you skin has specialized components located near hair follicles called sebaceous glands.

They secrete an oily, waxy substance called sebum which nourishes the skin and hair follicles and keeps it from drying out, cracking and becoming brittle.

Acne occurs because the glands that make sebum become overactive.

The excess sebum clogs the pores of the skin and bacteria begins to grow. This signals your immune system to fight the bacteria.

During the battle between the invading bacteria and your infection-fighting white blood cells, your skin becomes red, swollen and pus-filled.

That’s basically what acne is.

How are low testosterone and acne related?

According to one clinical review, “skin and its appendages are androgen-dependent, male hypogonadism can be associated with dermatologically relevant lesions” [1].

As we’ve already mentioned, testosterone is closely related to health; and that means skin health too.

Low testosterone and acne are interlinked because hypogonadism causes your skin to become thin, unhealthy and even causes wrinkles.

Your skin synthesizes sex hormones such as testosterone. Your sebaceous glands are key in expressing androgen hormones and contribute to different enzymes in skin cells.

The Journal Hormone and Metabolic Research suggests that “androgens affect several functions of human skin, such as sebaceous gland growth and differentiation, hair growth, epidermal barrier homeostasis and wound healing”


Young handsome man checking his face skin acne

Which Nutrients Can Fix Low Testosterone and Acne Issues?

When it comes to making your skin look clean, fresh and acne free, there are a number of nutrients that you should pay special attention.

Getting the right amount of these will help you boost not only the way your skin looks and feels, but your confidence too.

Zinc

This essential mineral is found in foods such as oyster extract, beef, offal and eggs, zinc provides a number of benefits.

  • Maintains brain function and development
  • Ensures prostate health
  • Controls cellular metabolism
  • Enhances your immune response

Zinc is thought to treat acne because in those with severe skin problems, zinc is typically low.

Research suggests that this nutrient reduces the inflammatory effects of your immune system and therefore helps to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne.

Studies back this up too, with 600 mg over a 6-week period shown to reduce symptoms by over 25% [2].

And best of all – zinc targets acne at the root of the issue as it also directly stimulates testosterone production. 

Studies show that zinc supplementation helps men increase testosterone levels, even during periods of intense exercise [3].

Vitamin D

Referred to as ‘the sunshine nutrient’, vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol when your skin comes into contact with UVB rays from the sun.

It is an important nutrient used by the body to make testosterone. It also promotes health in a number of different ways:

  • Cardiovascular protection
  • Prevents cold and flu and boosts your immune system
  • It’s a potent anti-inflammatory
  • Enhances memory and cognition

When it comes to your skin, vitamin D has been shown to reduce symptoms of the inflammatory condition known as atopic dermatitis. Characterized by itchy, angry and red skin, this skin disorder is caused by an over-active immune system.

One large meta-analysis study found that in a total of 9 different studies, vitamin D supplementation was seen to reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis, and was considered a safe and effective treatment [4].

And when it comes to the heart of the problem, vitamin D is also considered to be one of the top nutrients for stimulating testosterone production too [5].

Vitamin B6

When it comes to over oily-skin, vitamin B6 is often considered a go-to treatment.

As a water-soluble nutrient, B6 can be found in a number of foods – from pork and poultry to oatmeal and vegetables.

Vitamin B6 deficiency is often characterized with acne.

And studies show that not only is the nutrient essential for skin development, it also plays an important role in reducing the risk of zits, dermatitis and skin tumorgenesis [6].

As another link between low testosterone and acne, vitamin B6 also helps to reduce levels of the testosterone-fighting, female hormone called estrogen – by 30% [7].


Summary

Low testosterone and acne are most definitely related.

The redness, itching and inflammatory condition associated with zits can be traced back to the link between androgen hormones, nutrient deficiencies and acne lesions.

We suggest you try to optimize your testosterone levels by focusing on a diet rich in nutrients such as vitamin D, B6 and zinc.


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References

  1. Köhn, FM et al. Dermatologic aspects of male hypogonadism. Hautartz. 2000; 51(4): 223-30
  2. Göransson, K et al. Oral zinc in acne vulgaris: a clinical and methodological study. Acta Derm Venereol. 1978; 58(5): 443-8
  3. Kilic, M. Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007; 28(5): 681-5
  4. Kim, G et al. Vitamin D and atopic dermatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition. 2016; 32(9): 913-20
  5. Pilz, S et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in menHorm Metab Res. 2011; 43(3): 223–225
  6. Kato, N. Role of vitamin B6 in skin health and diseases. Human Health Handbooks
  7. Allgood, VE et al. Vitamin B6 modulates transcriptional activation by multiple members of the steroid hormone receptor superfamily. J Biol Chem. 1992; 267: 3819-3824

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