5 Hormonal Changes That Could Trigger Eczema

Hormones have a big impact on eczema symptoms, especially for females

Though there are many triggers for eczema, most people don’t think about hormones and eczema. However, changes in hormone levels can lead to hormonal eczema. This is why you may experience eczema during your period, after pregnancy, or during menopause. 

This article will cover must-know information about hormones and eczema. We’ll explain how and why hormone fluctuations, particularly in females, can cause a hormonal rash or eczema. 

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Hormonal Fluctuations Linked to Eczema

Hormones are chemical messengers that control all of your body's functions. It’s normal and healthy to experience hormone fluctuations. But those fluctuations may impact your eczema, making symptoms more or less severe.

To understand why, you need to understand a bit about the immune system. Researchers believe that eczema is caused by an immune system that’s not functioning properly. Hormones affect two types of immune cells: Th1 cells and Th2 cells. Th2 cells have been linked to allergy responses and eczema.

Certain hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can cause more Th2 activity. Androgens, including testosterone, can decrease Th2 activity. As your levels of these hormones change, you may experience changes in eczema symptoms. That’s especially true during these five stages of hormonal fluctuation. 

The hormones that often make eczema worse, estrogen and progesterone, are female sex hormones. This may explain why eczema is more common in adult females than adult males.

1. Puberty

Puberty is a time when a child’s body undergoes changes that make it an adults’ body. Both sexes experience hormonal changes. Interestingly, puberty is often a time of fewer eczema symptoms. There are a few reasons for that.

Interestingly, for many, eczema improves before or during puberty. There are a few reasons for that. To begin with, up to 80% of people with eczema outgrow the condition. This can coincide with puberty. In addition, the oily skin often associated with puberty can counteract dry skin associated with eczema. Unfortunately for those teenagers who do not outgrow eczema, the physical appearance of eczema can lead to emotional distress.

Still, skin changes during puberty can be challenging for teens with eczema. They must develop a skincare routine to manage their condition. 

2. Menstruation

Hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle are closely related to eczema symptoms. Many notice that their symptoms get worse in the week before their period. This is a time when estrogen levels dip, but progesterone levels rise rapidly. The symptoms may last, leading to eczema during period days too. 

Hormonal rash

In addition to worsening eczema symptoms, females can experience other hormonal rashes in the lead to their periods. Progesterone dermatitis is a rare condition in which a rash appears a few days before a person’s period and can persist through menstruation or even linger for a few days after. Women can also experience other allergic reactions to menstrual hormones, which often manifest as skin rashes. 

3. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body has more Th2 immune cell activity. This helps protect the growing fetus, but also makes you more prone to eczema. About half of women with eczema have worsening symptoms during pregnancy. Your OB-GYN and dermatologist can help you find eczema treatments that are safe during pregnancy.

4. Menopause 

During menopause, both progesterone and estrogen levels drop. While this can lead to less Th2 immune cell activity, it poses risks. Drops in estrogen are associated with drier skin, changes to the skin microbiome, and slower repair of damage to the skin. That can all make symptoms of eczema worse. 

If menopause makes your eczema symptoms worse, talk to your healthcare provider about whether hormone replacement therapy might help. 

5. Birth Control

There’s no clear research on a birth control eczema connection. However, birth control can cause other rashes associated with changes with estrogen and progesterone levels, so it’s plausible that birth control could be linked to eczema. If you think your birth control is making eczema worse, talk with your healthcare provider. 

Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of adult life, especially for females. However, sometimes underlying medical conditions like thyroid disease and stress can cause a hormone imbalance. 

Symptoms of a hormone imbalance can include:

  • Sudden changes to your weight
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling hot or cold
  • Skin changes, including dry skin or acne
  • Anxiety and mood changes
  • Changes to your libido 

If you’re concerned about a hormone imbalance, ask your healthcare provider about a blood test that can check your hormone levels. 

Balancing Hormones to Control Eczema

Many of the impacts of hormones and eczema are due to normal hormone fluctuations. In that case, you don’t need to balance your hormones to control symptoms. However, you can talk with your healthcare provider about ways to manage eczema symptoms during hormonal times including right before your period, during pregnancy, and during menopause. 

Summary

Hormonal changes can make eczema symptoms worse, particularly for females. Female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause more Th2 immune cell activity, which is associated with eczema symptoms. That’s why you might experience a hormonal rash during pregnancy or just before your period. During menopause, drops in these hormones can lead to dry, damaged skin that is more prone to eczema. 

A Word From Verywell

Hormone fluctuations are a normal and healthy part of your body. While there’s no way to get rid of hormonal fluctuations, better understanding the hormones in your body can help you predict when your eczema symptoms might flare. During those times, you can work with your healthcare provider to find treatment options that control symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you have eczema later in life, could you be in menopause?

    Yes. During menopause, levels of estrogen and progesterone drop. Falling estrogen levels are associated with dry skin, changes to the skin microbiome and slower repair of damage to the skin. All of that can compound eczema symptoms. A hormone test can help you determine whether you're in menopause.

  • How should you care for your skin with hormonal eczema?

    Talk with your healthcare provider about treatments that may work for you. Many eczema treatments, like steroid creams, are safe during pre-menstrual time, pregnancy, and menopause. Treatments that control your symptoms will help keep flares at bay when your hormones change. 

  • What else triggers eczema?

    There are many different eczema triggers. The clothes you wear and items in your environment—like pollen or pet dander—can all trigger eczema. If you have eczema, consider keeping a journal to track triggers and identify what triggers are most likely to cause symptoms. Avoiding these triggers can help alleviate symptoms.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Moreno AS, McPhee R, Arruda LK, and Howell MD. Targeting the T helper 2 inflammatory axis in atopic dermatitis. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology. 2016. doi.org: 10.1159/000451083.

  3. Kanda, Naoko, Toshihiko Hoashi, and Hidehisa Saeki. “The roles of sex hormones in the course of atopic dermatitis.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019 doi: 10.3390/ijms20194660.

  4. Eczema Association Australasia. Teenagers who have eczema.

  5. National Eczema Association. Eczema stats.

  6. Autoimmune Association. What is progesterone dermatitis?

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  8. National Eczema Society. Menopause and eczema.

  9. Hormone Health UK. 10 warning signs you may have a hormonal imbalance (and what to do about it).

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.