Welcome to World Thyroid Day, a day dedicated to thyroid patients and to all who are committed to the study and treatment of thyroid diseases worldwide.
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the bottom of your neck in front of your throat. Being a gland, it makes vital hormones that regulate all your body functions, including:
- Heart rate
- Nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
You can have lumps (both benign and cancerous) on your thyroid gland, your gland can be over active or under active. A lump might be seen or felt, or can just be discovered on a scan done as a work up of an abnormal thyroid blood test.
People with an overactive thyroid can experience;
- Feeling hot and flushed
- Hair thinning and loss
- Less frequent and lighter menstrual periods
People with an underactive thyroid can experience;
- Dry skin and dry, thinning hair
- Itchy skin
- Feeling cold (and cold hands and feet)
- More frequent and heavy menstrual periods
- Joint and muscle pains
Both over and underactive thyroid is diagnosed with a simple blood test from your GP. We might need to do some more tests with various scans or even a biopsy in some cases. Most lumps need scans and over a certain size will need a biopsy as well.
How does the thyroid gland affect your skin?
This all depends on what your thyroid hormone levels are doing.
An overactive thyroid
There are many skin effects of hyperthyroidism. You might get flushing of your face and hands.
You might develop fine, soft and thin hair. When it comes to nails, they might become overgrown and may even lift off the nail bed altogether. Lot of people with hyperthyroidism have very itchy, blotchy skin.
An underactive thyroid
Skin problems are so common in hypothyroidism that they are often the symptoms that bring someone to the doctor leading to a diagnosis! You might notice sparse and brittle hair, which falls out in handfuls, thinning of the hair at the outer third of eyebrows. Your skin might be itchy. Some people develop pigmentation while many experience slow growing, ridged or brittle nails.
What can you do about it?
If we correct the thyroid levels in your body, your skin, hair and nail changes should sort themselves out. So a trip to the doctor ASAP is vital to get the blood tests rolling and treatment happening ASAP.
In the meanwhile- you can change up your skincare (nails and hair are a bit more difficult to manage). Try adding in;
A serum or cream containing niacinamide can help with reducing skin dryness
A broad spectrum, gentle zinc-based sunscreen will help reduce further UV damage to the skin.
An Ascorbic Acid serum can help reduce pigmentation and make dull skin brighter.
A soap free cleanser instead of soap can help prevent skin dryness and itching.
You can find these products in a kit found here;
Happy World Thyroid Day!