The Spectrum of Skin and Sex


Transgender individuals may experience complex issues regarding skin health upon transitioning. Photo courtesy of BigStock/Creatista.

We all have to live with skin conditions. Whether it be oily skin, acne, or something more persistent like psoriasis, pesky skin conditions affect everyone’s life in some way or another. However, the skin conditions that affect us can sometimes be determined by our sex, which can be difficult and frustrating to navigate for trans individuals. Dr. Jaime Davis of Uptown Dermatology has been studying these effects throughout her career, and she says that sex plays a larger role in skin conditions than people might think.

“This is all about testosterone. Men typically have more testosterone and therefore have oilier skin and acne because of it,” she said. “Testosterone also results in more hair and coarser hair.”

The effects of testosterone are different for transgender people because they are either adding it to their bodies, which will result in similar oily skin, acne, and hair growth as described in men, or they are trying to block it in an attempt to stop hair growth, which will then lessen amounts of oil in skin and acne. Also, it is likely for trans patients to experience skin conditions specific to both sexes.

“Skin problems are on a spectrum, just like gender,” says Dr. Davis.

Most testosterone-related conditions can be treated and/or managed with anti-acne treatments, several of which are prescribed to patients by their dermatologists. Similarly, excess hair growth can be treated with laser hair removal or certain medications, and Dr. Davis recommends that patients seek an individualized treatment plan under the advisory of their dermatologists.

These kinds of skin conditions do, however, have different effects on trans individuals, which makes it even more important to arrange an individualized treatment plan.

“Acne gets worse for female-to-male transitions but better for male-to-female. Hair growth is desirable for female-to-male transitions but not for male-to-female,” Dr. Davis explains.

Overall, Dr. Davis says that the skin conditions most strongly correlated to sex are acne and excess hair growth, among others.

“We also see issues with needing to feminize or masculinize facial features. Botox and fillers can help a ton with that,” she says. “We see the stronger muscles of male faces needing to be softened for male-to-female transitions. The opposite for female-to-male. We want a stronger jawline for a masculinized face. We see that male-to-female transitions like a fuller lip.”

It is likely that trans patients will experience skin conditions that are specific to both sexes.
Photo courtesy of BigStock/Anetlanda.

Although people might choose different treatment plans based on their own individual needs and sexual identities, Dr. Davis says that the diagnosis process is the same for everyone, including trans individuals.

“The difference might be that if there has been gender reassignment surgery, we need to understand the new anatomy in order to monitor for and treat STDs or genital cancers, but it is the same when diagnosing skin conditions,” she says.

Dr. Davis suggests that all patients, especially trans patients who are concerned about the effects of their sex on their skin health, find a board-certified dermatologist who is experienced with trans patients and the health needs specific to the community. The staff of Uptown Dermatology is knowledgeable about serving the needs of patients with very specific skin conditions, especially within the trans community. Dr. Davis is joined by healthcare providers Dr. Nadine Miller and Dr. Angela Rohland as well as a team of nurses, spa staff, and office staff.

Uptown Dermatology offers a SkinSpa, which features a variety of services including Botox injections, cosmetic fillers, eyelash treatment, hair removal, and several others. Appointments are required for new patients, and it is suggested that new patients plan on about a one-hour appointment time as Uptown Dermatology staff will request extensive medical history in order to provide sufficient care.

From oily skin and unwanted body hair to the most serious skin conditions, the world of skin health can be a tricky one to navigate. However, with the help of professionals like Dr. Davis and her team at Uptown Dermatology, the process is a lot easier and a lot more reliable. Don’t settle for a treatment plan that doesn’t cater to your individual needs. You deserve a doctor who knows your skin better than they know the skin on the back of their hand.

For more information about Uptown Dermatology and its staff members, visit

Uptown Dermatology
1221 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN

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