PCOS or PCOD is becoming increasingly common among young women. Apart from health issues, this disorder can also lead to some frustrating skin and hair concerns. While the symptoms differ from one woman to another, the most common ones include acne and hair fall. However, by making minor lifestyle changes and following healthy skin and hair care habits, the effects of this condition can be easily managed.
We reached out to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Rashmi Shetty and asked her everything we could about PCOS and how to treat the skin and hair issues it causes.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is ubiquitous. It affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. According to Dr. Shetty, “Women who have PCOS experience hair issues, skin issues, bodily issues, pigmentation, acne, hair fall, excessive hair growth along with little cysts in their ovary.”
PCOD vs PCOS
Both the terms, PCOD and PCOS, are used interchangeably to describe the same health condition. “They are the same. Earlier it was called PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Disease), but later it was found that the condition is not a disease but the outcome of an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s a bunch of things put together, so it's called a syndrome, not a disease,” says Dr. Shetty.
Symptoms of PCOS
Prolonged skin and hair issues can sometimes help identify this problem and get a diagnosis. Dr. Shetty lists down a few symptoms below:
The complexion becomes patchy, with dark patches on your neck, cheeks or forehead. The skin may also turn thick or velvety.
- Abnormal or excessive hair growth on the face.
- Hair shedding or hair loss.
- Women with severe cases may also experience receding hairline.
- Painful cystic acne is one of the most common symptoms of PCOS.
- Weight gain, even after leading a normal lifestyle with a healthy diet.
Irregular periods are not always a sign of PCOS; women with regular periods can also have PCOS. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it’s best to consult your doctor, advises Dr. Shetty.
How to manage PCOS?
A sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits are often blamed for PCOS. “You end up putting on weight around your gut or midrib, which translates into something called PCOS. Avoid sugary foods such as cola, desserts, fruit juices. Instead, opt for natural sugar in the form of fruits. Dairy is another food you should stay away from, especially skimmed milk. If you cannot drink black tea or coffee, add some almond milk into it. Exercise regularly — make it a part of your daily routine. Focus on cardio as it causes mobility of the body and tissue, which is important in women with PCOS,” she says.
Skincare for PCOS
We also asked Dr. Shetty about a few skincare habits that women with PCOS should follow. “Acne and pigmentation are the two most common symptoms of PCOS. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing your skin. After getting diagnosed and starting your PCOS treatment, you can also try skin-lightening ingredients like vitamin C, azelaic acid, kojic acid, benzoyl peroxide or niacinamide. In-office treatment options like peels and lasers are also available. These treatments work towards getting your infection and inflammation down,” she says.
Haircare for PCOS
Hair loss is the biggest concern among women with PCOS. “Start healthy hair habits, wash your hair regularly, keep the scalp clean and eat healthy foods that will encourage hair growth. Treatments like PRP hair treatment, Mesotherapy, laser hair growth treatment, progenitor treatment help keep hair strands and the hair follicle healthy and stimulated,” she advises.