Some research suggests a link between rosacea and thyroid conditions, particularly hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. Hormonal imbalances can cause skin issues like dryness and flakiness, too.

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Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by redness and rashes. Though the exact cause of the skin disorder remains unknown, scientists think factors like genes, environmental triggers, and immune system issues may play a role.

Research from 2021 suggests a strong link between rosacea and hypothyroidism. While there is no evidence that one causes the other, both conditions are characterized by:

  • immune system dysfunction
  • vascular changes
  • hormone imbalances

Read on to learn more about the relationship between your skin and thyroid health.

To understand the link between hypothyroidism and rosacea, it’s useful to discuss the overall link between your skin and thyroid health.

Your thyroid hormones are some of the most important regulatory hormones for keeping your skin healthy and balanced. If your thyroid hormones aren’t regulated, you’re more likely to develop skin conditions like ichthyosis vulgaris (patches of dry, dead skin) and palmoplantar keratoderma (thickening of the palms or soles).

In addition, if you have a skin condition like vitiligo, hives, or alopecia areata, you also have a higher risk of developing thyroid disease.

In a 2023 review, researchers noted that changes in skin, hair, and nail health are often among the earliest signs of thyroid dysfunction. You might experience issues like brittle nails, hair loss, and slow wound healing.

Ultimately, both thyroid and skin health are strongly tied to the immune system, vascular system, and hormones. If you have either a skin or thyroid condition, you’re more likely to develop the other.

So far, there’s no proof that hypothyroidism directly causes rosacea, but there is a strong link between the two.

In a large 2018 review, researchers found people with rosacea were 1.3 times more likely to have hypothyroidism. Those between the ages of 40 and 49 had particularly high rates of hypothyroidism.

So while hypothyroidism doesn’t necessarily cause rosacea, they’re considered comorbid conditions, which means they frequently occur alongside each other. Research has also shown that rosacea is associated with a higher risk of thyroid cancer.

Some of the signs and symptoms of rosacea and hypothyroidism can be similar. For example, you might experience facial swelling and puffiness, as well as dry, scaly skin.

Additional symptoms of rosacea include:

  • facial redness or flushing
  • visible blood vessels
  • bumps or rashes
  • red or irritated eyes
  • burning or stinging skin
  • thickened skin on the face
  • blushing easily

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • fatigue
  • cold sensitivity
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • hoarse voice
  • elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • muscle aches
  • thinning hair
  • slower heart rate
  • depression
  • impaired memory
  • numbness in fingers or toes
  • abnormal menstrual cycle
  • fertility issues

Other skin, hair, and nail changes that may indicate thyroid dysfunction include:

  • pale, cool, smooth skin or dry, cracked skin
  • deep lines on the palms and soles
  • yellowish color on the palms and soles
  • a swollen face, particularly the eyelids, lips, and tongue
  • slow wound healing
  • sweating less or more frequently
  • darker skin in the palm creases, on the gums, or in the mouth
  • lumpy, patchy, or scaled skin
  • reddish spots on the skin
  • thick, dry, and brittle nails with ridges
  • crumbling nails

Treating rosacea and hypothyroidism may require support from both a dermatologist and an endocrinologist. Though there’s not yet a cure for these conditions, there are ways to effectively manage them with individualized support.

Both conditions may benefit from:

  • Managing stress: Stress can bring on or worsen both rosacea and hypothyroidism. Regular exercise, relaxation techniques (i.e., meditation and breathwork), and an overall healthy lifestyle can greatly improve symptoms and your quality of life.
  • Balancing hormones: Both conditions are marked by hormonal imbalances. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy may help restore balance and soothe symptoms of both disorders.
  • Reducing inflammation: Both conditions are marked by increased inflammation, which can be reduced via dietary changes, supplements, and medications.

If you have rosacea, you may also benefit from:

  • Taking oral and topical medication: This may include antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Tracking and avoiding triggers: Try avoiding alcohol, spicy food, and high temperatures.
  • Undergoing laser and light therapy: This can reduce the appearance of dilated blood vessels and redness.
  • Using SPF and other skin care products: These products can protect the skin and help reduce irritation, sensitivity, and symptoms.

If you have hypothyroidism, you may also benefit from natural remedies, such as acupuncture, probiotics, or supplements. Though uncommon, you may need to undergo surgery in severe cases.

Rosacea and hypothyroidism are associated inflammatory conditions that may benefit from a collaborative treatment plan.

Though there’s no proof so far that hypothyroidism directly causes rosacea, the conditions are strongly linked.

Both conditions can benefit from treating underlying hormone imbalances and immune system dysfunction. Reducing stress and managing triggers can also help.