Along with other health conditions, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may change your facial appearance and skin. Treatment for hypothyroidism may reverse these changes.

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Hypothyroidism is the medical term for low thyroid function. If you have this condition, you don’t produce enough thyroid hormones that fuel various processes in the body.

As a result, you may experience a range of symptoms from weight gain to fatigue, skin changes, and more.

If left untreated, this condition can also affect your face and body and may lead to more serious health concerns.

Here’s what you need to know about hypothyroidism, how these changes may affect your face, and what treatments may help reverse changes.

Learn more about hypothyroidism.

Yes, hypothyroidism could change your features. An underactive thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, leading to symptoms across the body.

These changes can also affect the face and skin, changing your overall appearance.

But not all people with hypothyroidism may experience facial changes. Those who do may not immediately associate the changes with hypothyroidism because they may happen slowly over months and years.

It’s important to note that facial changes have an association with later stages of hypothyroidism. Most people discover they have an underactive thyroid before these changes occur.

Your face may appear puffy or swollen if you have hypothyroidism, especially if it’s more advanced. As a result, it may be difficult to make facial expressions. Another key physical sign is a swollen lump on the neck called a goiter.

Other changes may include:

The thyroid gland secures two hormones — thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones manage how the tissues throughout the body use energy and oxygen.

Without enough circulating hormones, various processes in the body slow down. These effects may include:

With regard to the face and skin, thyroid hormone receptors are in places like the fibroblasts (cells that help build connective tissue), hair follicles, keratinocytes, and sebaceous glands.

These cells are responsible for things like balancing the skin barrier, forming connective tissue, and regulating water retention.

When these processes are slowed down, you may experience characteristic facial and skin changes.

No treatment that specifically targets facial changes related to hypothyroidism is available. Instead, treatment of the underlying thyroid issue can help with skin and facial changes, reduce other symptoms, and avoid potential complications.

Treatment involves taking synthetic hormone medication called levothyroxine to restore typical thyroxine levels. You may start on a low dose of this medication and adjust using blood test results until they’re in optimal range.

Treatment may help right away or it may take some time to dial in the right dose for you. Once you reach a therapeutic dose, your doctor will test your levels once a year to ensure the drug is still working as it should.

There is currently no cure for most cases of hypothyroidism.

But regular treatment and monitoring can help keep your TSH levels in optimal range. When you manage your levels, your symptoms — like facial changes — should get better over time.

Not only that, but your overall health should also improve with no change to your life expectancy.

In one case report, researchers uncovered that just one month of treatment may significantly reduce symptoms related to the skin, nails, and face.

What does hypothyroid skin look like?

With hypothyroidism, the skin may become dry, scaly, and rough. It may take on a yellowish or orange appearance. Rashes, flushing, or lumps are also common. Skin may feel waxy or hard and even develop deep creases in the palms and soles.

How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?

Your doctor may record your symptoms, give you a physical exam, and order a blood test to measure your thyroid function before making a formal diagnosis.

Most people discover they have hypothyroidism before it affects their facial appearance. If you do experience changes in your face, make an appointment with a doctor.

Other conditions, like weight gain or skin issues, may lead to similar changes.

If an underactive thyroid is causing your changes, treating it with levothyroxine can help restore your typical appearance and improve your overall health.