“I have hyperthyroidism. Can this affect my skin or hair?”
Hyperthyroidism is the term for overactive tissue within the thyroid gland causing an overproduction of thyroid hormones (thyroxine or “T4” and/or triiodothyronine or “T3“). Hyperthyroidism can cause of thyrotoxicosis, the clinical condition of increased thyroid hormones in the blood.
Effects on the skin are based on the profound action of these hormones on the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins from our diet that become part of our cells.
Below is a brief description of how these hormones act and how hyperthyroidism can affect the skin and hair:
1. On fat cells: the higher the hormones, the lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels detected in our plasma, while fatty acids—the breakdown products of these lipids—increase.
2. On carbohydrates: the higher the thyroid hormones, the more biosynthesis of new glucose and entry of the glucose into cells.
3. On proteins: thyroid hormones diminish protein synthesis, increasing protein degradation, which can result in a catabolic state.
Combining all three:
- The skin of a person with hyperthyroidism can become thin and delicate, while other areas of the body may develop thick, velvety skin and may become hyperpigmented (darker). The skin often becomes intensely dry and may become misdiagnosed as other more common skin diseases such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema.
- Nails often grow quickly, and
- Hair loss.
4. With all these metabolic activities, body heat can increase. This can result in heat intolerance, excessive sweating especially of the palms and feet, a flushed face and red palms, and moist skin that is warm or even hot to the touch.
5. For immunologic reasons, a thick redness called pretibial myxedema may appear at the front of the legs. Hives and marked itching at times can occur especially as the body is producing more of these hormones.
This information is general and may or may not apply to your particular case. Please make sure that your hyperthyroidism is properly diagnosed based on an in-person consultation with your physician and proper blood tests. While many VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® products can help with conjunctive and preventive therapy, proper management, and treatment of hyperthyroidism and related skin or other conditions must be done by your physician, and possibly also a dermatologist with experience in the management of skin among patients with hyperthyroidism.