In a long and heartfelt post on Instagram, actress, singer, and voice talent Keke Palmer shared her long-time struggle with acne. While acknowledging that her post might be "TMI" or too much information for some people, she believes in using her platform to bring awareness to the subject of PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects five to ten percent of women between 15 and 44 years old and can happen anytime as soon as a young woman reaches puberty. Women of all races and ethnicities are at risk, especially if they have family members who already have it. Those who are also obese are vulnerable to PCOS.
According to the Office on Women's Health, the symptoms of PCOS include:
Women who suffer from PCOS may either have fewer periods (less than eight times in a year), or their periods may come more often and do not follow the regular 28-day cycle. Some women do not have menstrual periods at all.
Hirsutism is caused by excess male hormones or androgens in women and this results in hair growth in the face (particularly the chin), chest, back. The OWH adds that hirsutism can affect up to 70% of women with PCOS. On the other end of the spectrum, women with PCOS can also suffer from thinning hair or female pattern baldness.
Women with PCOS can have unexplained weight gain or the difficulty to lose weight.
Irregularities on the surface of the skin can be a symptom of PCOS. Watch out for darkening along the neck, underneath the breasts or in the groin. As for skin tags, be on the lookout for small flaps of excess skin in the neck area or armpits.
Also read: What are Skin Tags?
Since PCOS is a hormonal imbalance, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara tells Allure that the abnormal hormonal surges messes up sebum production, clogs the pores and results to painful, inflamed and cystic acne on the face, chest and upper back.
Acne became the bane of Palmer. And she had no idea that she had PCOS. In her Instagram post, she shares that she had tried everything from Accutane, diet adjustments and multiple visits to the doctor in which she was offered a measles shot. It wasn't until she did her own research into her family history and used online resources to try and find an answer. Palmer then presented her findings to a doctor which finally led to her proper diagnosis of PCOS.
Her very open and emotional post have garnered, at this point, 935,740 likes and hundreds of comments that showered her with love and support.
If like Keke Palmer, you, or anyone you know, is experiencing a sudden bout of unexplained acne or have any of the symptoms written above, consider a visit to the doctor's office. While there is not a single test to diagnose or rule out PCOS, there are several ways that you can find out if you have it. These include a physical exam, pelvic exam, sonogram, and blood tests.
As Palmer says, you are not alone and do not let acne stop you from anything.
Related article: How Dermatologists Control Cystic Acne
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