Women and men are not equal when it comes to skin concerns: several dermatologic conditions are specific for women while other conditions present differently in women.
Acne, rosacea and hormonal therapy:
While men and women both develop acne in adolescence, adult women have persistent acne more often than adult men. The acne lesions in adult women frequently occur on the lower half of the face and the jawline and worsen during the menstrual cycle. Hormonal therapy such as oral contraceptives with or without spironolactone, an anti- androgen, is very effective for adult acne in women.
Rosacea, an acne variant, is common in fair skinned women. Medical therapy for rosacea is similar for men and women. However, women are more amenable to changing skin care products to achieve further improvement of the redness due to rosacea. And, laser therapy for facial redness, is more popular for female patients.
Medication safety in female patients who are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive is important. Pregnancy may also flare up existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. And, while trying to conceive women, need to discontinue most acne medication, often resulting in acne flares before conception and in the first trimester. Topical antibiotics, available by prescription are safe during pregnancy as are OTC products with glycolic acid. I have a program of topical therapy which can be combined with in-office treatment such as esthetician peels and/or light therapy to control acne during this time.
Vulvar and vaginal skin conditions:
Vulvar and vaginal rashes, as well as itching, and irritation in the vaginal area are due to a variety of causes. As a female dermatologist, I regularly receive referrals from my ob-gyn colleagues of patients with persistent symptoms that have not responded to standard therapies. Sometimes a skin biopsy can reveal the diagnosis. Eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, bacterial or yeast infections and a chronic inflammatory condition, lichen sclerosis may be the cause of symptoms of the female genital area. Once a diagnosis is be made, appropriate treatment will usually improve or resolve the symptoms. I welcome the opportunity to help women with these difficult to treat conditions.
Disorders of Pigmentation:
Melasma or “pregnancy mask”, age spots, and post inflammatory pigmentation (ie dark spots due to acne or rashes in dark skinned women) are more likely to occur in women than men. Sun exposure, estrogen (from medication or pregnancy) and genetics play a role in the development of facial pigmentation. Women are emotionally more affected by facial pigmentation than men and desire quick results. Prescription medications often need to be combined with in office cosmetic treatments such as peels or laser therapy for optimal improvement. And, patients may need to make lifestyle changes in order to achieve lasting improvement.
Hair loss or thinning is a deeply emotional issue for women. Fortunately, there is treatment available for the most common causes of hair loss in women. Medication, illness, stress, surgery and pregnancy may result in a sudden shedding of hair. This will typically resolve over time. A spot of hair loss, or alopecia areata, is a temporary condition, which is treatable once the diagnosis is made. Seeking the opinion of a dermatologist for hair concerns can be the first step towards resolution.