Women and men are not equal when it comes to skin concerns. Several skin conditions are specific to 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. Laser therapy for facial redness is also more popular for female patients, although it is equally effective for men.
The Pregnant Woman’s Skin Concerns
Pregnancy may flare up existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. However, medication safety is an important consideration for female patients who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive.
While trying to conceive, women need to discontinue most acne medications, 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.
Dr. Goodlerner has a program of topical skin care therapy which can be combined with in-office treatment such as esthetician chemical peels and/or laser light therapy to control acne during pregnancy and before conception.
Vulva 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, Dr. Goodlerner regularly receives referrals from obstetrics/gynecology 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, or a chronic inflammatory condition called lichen sclerosis may be the cause of symptoms of the female genital area. Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate treatment will usually improve or resolve the symptoms. Dr. Goodlerner welcomes the opportunity to help women with these sensitive and difficult to treat conditions, as she has particular expertise in this often neglected area of dermatology.
Disorders of Pigmentation
Melasma or “pregnancy mask,” age spots, and post-inflammatory pigmentation (i.e., 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 also more affected emotionally by hyperpigmentation than men and desire quick results. For optimal improvement, prescription medications often need to be combined with in-office cosmetic treatments such as a chemical peel or laser therapy. Women may need to make lifestyle changes, however, in order to achieve lasting improvement.
Female Hair Loss
Hair loss or thinning hair in women is a deeply emotional issue. 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 that is treatable once the diagnosis is made. Seeking the opinion of a dermatologist for hair concerns can be the first step toward resolution.
If you are a woman with specific concerns about caring for your skin during pregnancy, a vaginal rash, acne, rosacea, brown spots, or hair loss, schedule a dermatological consultation in Torrance with Dr. Susan Goodlerner.