3 Skin Issues That Can Affect Women With PCOS

Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can have a lot of health issues. From irregular or absent menstrual periods to difficulty losing weight, the issues range from mild to the extreme. One thing that isn't talked about much when it comes to PCOS is the skin issues women can encounter with the condition. Here are three skin issues that can affect women with PCOS.

1. Acne

Everyone thinks that they will outgrow developing acne and, for the most part, that is true. However, women who have PCOS have acne throughout their adult years. The reason for this is because of the insulin resistance that is a hallmark symptom of PCOS. When the body fails to use the insulin that is produced, it leads the body to produce more androgens, which then leads you to develop acne.

Treating the acne can help in the short term, but the way to best get rid of the acne is to treat the underlying condition, PCOS. You will likely need to work with your regular doctor and your dermatologist in order to get rid of your acne problem for good.

2. Skin tags

Another skin issue that women with PCOS often encounter is the presence of skin tags. Skin tags are simply small tags that hang off of the skin. They are usually soft, flesh-colored, and not life threatening.

It is actually not quite clear what causes skin tags to form, but researchers have linked their formation to hormones and obesity. Since PCOS causes hormone imbalance and is often seen in women who are obese, it stands to reason that skin tags would be an issue for them as well.

While most skin tags are small and in places they won't be noticed, they can become quite irritated. If that happens to you, then you will likely need to see a dermatologist about getting the skin tag removed. 

3. Dark patches on the skin

If you have PCOS, you have likely noticed dark patches, or acanthosis nigricans, on certain areas of your skin. Most women with PCOS develop these dark patches of skin on their inner thighs, arm pits, and/or neck. These dark spots can be brown or black and they feel like velvet when you touch them. The reason women with PCOS can develop these dark spots is because of the insulin resistance, obesity, and hormonal imbalance that are all associated with the disorder. 

In rare cases, acanthosis nigricans can be a symptom of cancerous tumor growth so you should have any changes to your skin evaluated by your general health doctor and a dermatologist, such as those from Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery. Even though it will likely turn out to be a benign symptom of PCOS, it is better to be safe than sorry later on.