What Your Skin Can Tell You About Your Hormone Health

Photo: Darrell Taunt

Taz Bhatia, M.D., is a board-certified physician and professor at Emory University who specializes in integrating mainstream medicine with holistic practices. To learn more, check out her NEW mindbodygreen class, The Doctor's Guide to Hormonal Imbalance.

Your face tells a story about your health. In fact, understanding the specific areas of your face that are tied to hormones can help you understand what's going on with your hormones even before you have a laboratory evaluation.

We have older systems of medicine to thank for "face mapping," or tying areas of the face to different organ systems of the body. Chinese medicine, in particular, developed the art of face mapping, with entire systems and branches of medicine devoted just to this discipline. Ayurvedic medicine also believed in studying the face for clues as to what may lie brewing beneath the surface.

Take a few minutes to really get to know your face. Look at the color, tone, areas of rashes or irritation, and fine lines or wrinkles. These are all clues to your body chemistry and your hormones. Here's what these signs can tell you:

The color of your face:

The first thing to really establish is the color of your face. Is it pale or dull? Maybe it even has a slight gray hue? These are signs of a deficiency state in Chinese medicine, or a condition in which you may be anemic or nutritionally deficient. According to Chinese medicine, you may simply not have the raw materials needed to make or produce hormones.

On the other hand, a reddish, ruddy face may be a sign of a congested or angry liver. The liver, in Chinese medicine, is the power-player in the hormone world. If it gets "sluggish or congested" then hormones can't be broken down or metabolized well. Support your hormones by increasing your intake of iron-rich foods and adding a variety of protein sources into your diet.

Breakouts on the upper part of your face:

Now take a second to see where you may have any breakouts. Breakouts on the forehead are signs of gallbladder congestion, affecting how fats are metabolized and affecting the digestive system. These digestive issues will ultimately affect all hormones.

Moving on down to the area between the eyebrows is the liver. If there are lines or breakouts in this area, the liver needs help. One of my favorite food strategies is to add one green smoothie per day to balance liver congestion. In Ayurvedic medicine, this area is also associated with the liver and signs of anger or overwork. Probiotics and digestive enzymes are also helpful in improving the digestive process and fat metabolism, influencing hormones in the right direction.

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Circles under your eyes:

Circles under the eyes are telltale markers of a kidney imbalance — the seat of all hormones in Chinese medicine. The kidney meridian is very dependent on consistent sleep and stress management in Chinese medicine. Darkening under the eyes is a sign that your hormones are at risk for becoming off balance. It's not specific to a particular hormone but a warning sign that the whole hormone cascade is at stake.

Improve dark circles and kidney meridian imbalances by increasing your water intake; avoiding caffeine in coffee, soda, and tea; and lowering your salt load.

Clogged pores around your nose:

The nose in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine is connected to the heart. Clogged pores in this area may signal a high salt intake, affecting blood pressure and a lack of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants in your diet. The hormones cortisol and insulin are both affected by a heart meridian deficiency. Lower your salt intake to under 1,500 mg per day and add omega-3 fats to balance the heart meridian and improve insulin and cortisol regulation.

Rashes on your skin:

If there are rashes on your cheeks, it's a sign that stomach and lung issues are affecting hormones and hormone imbalance. Smokers, for example, often have challenges in these areas. Digestion will affect hormone balance directly by affecting how all the hormones are broken down and used.

Lowering your intake of dairy, gluten, and sugar may improve the congestion in this area, and of course, don't smoke!

Rashes on the chin, jaw, and neck are signs of hormone imbalances. Those painful, cystic lesions that often appear here are the most telling, caused by high androgens and often seen in conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). These androgens can be triggered by stress, a diet high in sugar, high estrogen levels, and insulin resistance. Lose the sugar, make sure to eat at regular intervals, and add probiotics to help improve these breakouts.

Get to know your face and add in these helpful hints to keep your hormones balanced and steady as you journey through each decade.

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