Low testosterone is undoubtedly a multi-faceted issue with many possible symptoms. As a hormonal imbalance, it can trigger a multitude of complications from weight changes to lesser-known manifestations like skin issues. Understanding the link between conditions like psoriasis and low testosterone is, therefore, important in grasping the roles hormones play.
Female hormones like estrogen and progesterone, as well as the male equivalent testosterone, can be responsible for frustrating skin changes due to hormone imbalances. These skin changes involve dryness, rosacea, oily skin, acne, and more. Keeping your hormones in balance is hence imperative for supporting healthy skin.
Psoriasis is a skin condition common in patients with low testosterone. But how are these two connected and what can YOU do? Let’s find out.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect your knees, elbows, trunk, and sometimes the scalp. While it most commonly affects these areas, it can also occur in other parts of your body.
Causing flaky patches of skin, psoriasis forms “scales” that can vary in color depending on the patient’s skin color. They can range from red and pink, to grey, brown, and purple patches. Psoriasis results from excessive skin cell production, whereas skin cells are not replaced every few weeks but every few days instead.
Psoriasis can affect both genders but is more commonly observed in individuals in their 20s and 50s. It’s considered a chronic illness with periods of worsening and periods with more mild symptoms. There also appears to be a genetic factor at play as psoriasis can run in families — however, the genetics surrounding this condition are not fully understood yet.
The most common symptoms of psoriasis comprise:
- dry and cracked skin,
- skin flaking and scaling,
- itching and burning, as well as
- patchy skin rashes.
Depending on the type of psoriasis, certain symptoms will outweigh — with plaque psoriasis marking the most common type of psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects about 8 million Americans and is slightly more prevalent in Caucasians than it is in African Americans (3.6% vs. 1.5%). It comes in different severities and can significantly interfere with the patient’s everyday life — with 60% of patients reporting that their condition is a large problem for them.
While there is no cure for psoriasis to date, multiple options are available for treatment, allowing patients to seek some relief from the many pesky symptoms they can experience. Oral and topical treatments include steroids, like prednisone and hydrocortisone cream. Another option is phototherapy which uses light exposure as a means to treat unwanted skin patches.
The Link Between Psoriasis and Low Testosterone
Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease with genetic, environmental, and autoimmune components, affecting about 2 to 3% of the world’s population. Scientists have long suspected a correlation between psoriasis and low testosterone — connecting a sex hormone imbalance with psoriasis pathogenesis.
To clinically investigate a relationship, many studies conducted in recent years have looked into serum testosterone levels in patients with psoriasis. Vice versa, researchers have further examined the potential benefits of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in hypogonadal men with psoriasis.
A study with 121 male psoriasis patients, in addition to patients in the control cohort, analyzed serum testosterone levels, albumin, and sex hormone binding globulin, also known as SHBG. The research found that 52.1% of psoriasis patients also had low levels of total testosterone. In fact, total testosterone and free testosterone were both significantly reduced in psoriasis patients when compared to the control group.
The study further concluded that low serum testosterone levels were interconnected with psoriasis disease severity.
Another trial published in the International Journal of Dermatology supports the correlation between low testosterone levels and the pathogenesis of psoriasis. The study investigated 50 male psoriasis patients while comparing them to healthy individuals as part of the control group.
The study concluded that individuals suffering from psoriasis also had significantly lower testosterone levels and high levels of estradiol, connecting a hormonal disturbance with psoriasis.
In addition, research has evidenced that testosterone replacement therapy can help with the treatment of psoriasis in male patients with low testosterone. A study with hypogonadal psoriasis patients found a significant improvement in symptoms that were sustained long-term.
Besides the psoriasis treatment options mentioned previously, TRT can be used to help alleviate psoriasis in individuals suffering from a sex hormone imbalance.
Connecting the Dots… Psoriasis and Low Testosterone
Hormonal imbalances come with an array of symptoms and can bring along unexpected complications. Skin conditions are just one of the many possibilities that can plague patients suffering from an imbalance, including those suffering from low testosterone.
The link between sex hormones and skin problems shines a light on the complexity of our hormones and their deep involvement in countless roles within the human body.
We invite you to learn more about the possible manifestations of low testosterone. Sign up for our newsletter and stay posted on current research.