Acne occurs when excess dirt, bacteria, and sebum clogs the pores. These cause blackheads, whiteheads, and pus-filled bumps. Cystic acne is the most severe form, with painful inflammation in the hair follicles. Deep, pus-filled bumps form on the face, back, and chest. Overproduction of androgens from PCOS can cause cystic acne. The hormone makes the skin produce more oil, and acne forms around the chin and jaw area.
2. Unwanted hair growth
While everyone will welcome extra hair growth on the scalp, PCOS can lead to unwanted hair growth. Dark, coarse hair follicles form on the chest, face, and back. This condition is called hirsutism. Excess testosterone causes hair growth where women don’t usually have body hair. Hair can start with the lips and chin, then grow to the abovementioned areas. Hirsutism can be caused by other factors like ancestry, family history, and obesity. However, most signs point to a hormone imbalance.
3. Watch out for sleep apnea
What does sleep have to do with PCOS? Studies show that women with PCOS are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea, regardless of weight. Sleep apnea is sudden or consistent pauses of breathing during sleep. This can lead to excess snoring, disturbed sleep, and more severe conditions like heart disease. There are several types, with obstructive sleep apnea the most common. Scientists have yet to find the reason for this peculiar link. Many believe the hormone changes may affect women on a metabolic level, leading to apnea symptoms.
What can you do about it?
Treating all these strange symptoms can help. For instance, with cystic acne, a dermatologist can provide potent retinoids and antibiotics. These will heal acne when used consistently. However, women will see more benefit in addressing PCOS, the root cause. These symptoms often coincide with obesity, irregular periods, and infertility. Seek help from an endocrinologist or OB/GYN first. These specialists can provide treatment that can help with strange symptoms, too.
Connect the dots
Once PCOS becomes manageable, seek specialized help for other symptoms, like cystic acne. PCOS patients can also benefit from a healthy diet and exercise. Patients should inform each doctor of any existing treatment to avoid side effects. Symptoms like acne, hirsutism, and sleep apnea may seem isolated but could be linked to PCOS.