Menopause and Your Skin
The drop in hormones during menopause can take its toll on women’s skin. Learn what skin changes to expect and how to protect your skin’s health.
Acne plagued you in your teens and early 20s. You spotted fine lines around your eyes in your 30s. And, your skin started losing the battle with gravity during your 40s.
There’s no question that your skin transforms through the years. As you go through menopause, you’ll likely notice even more skin changes.
Skin changes to expect
These skin changes are common with aging:
- Lost elasticity
- Dryness and flakiness
- Irritation, like itchiness
- Adult acne
- Age spots
- Changes in pigmentation
- Bruises and cuts that occur more easily and take longer to heal
- Spider veins and varicose veins
- Rosacea – a skin condition that causes redness and rash in the face
See your dermatologist (skin care doctor) if you spot any new moles or changes to any existing mole.
The role of hormones
Many of these skin changes are a result of the aging process. But some changes happen more rapidly around menopause because of the shift in hormones.
Estrogen levels start to decline in the years leading up to menopause. As estrogen levels taper off, skin becomes thinner and collagen breaks down. Collagen is a protein made by the body that keeps skin smooth, strong and elastic. When collagen decreases, the skin starts to sag, wrinkle and lose elasticity. Skin loses about 30 percent of its collagen within the first five years after menopause.
Many women also have acne during menopause. You’re more likely to have acne during menopause if you suffered from it during your teens. This stems from the imbalance between the hormones estrogen and androgen. Estrogen levels decline more than androgen levels. Androgen can over-stimulate oil glands and hair follicles, which can lead to pimples. Adult acne is often found on the lower part of the face, jaw and neck. It often doesn’t respond to the same treatments as acne found in teens.
Tips to preserve your skin’s health
- Don’t smoke. If you do, quit. Long-time smokers often have more skin damage, like wrinkles around the mouth and dark circles under the eyes.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Aging skin is more vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and a hat when you’re outside. Stay out of the sun when it’s the strongest, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid tanning.
- Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated.
- Lock in moisture. Dry skin can be itchy and bothersome. Use a moisturizer each day. Apply it within three minutes of getting out of the shower to seal in the most moisture. Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.
- Avoid hot, soapy showers or baths. This dries out skin.
- Have a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, good nutrition, plenty of sleep and reducing stress can help improve skin.
See your doctor
A trip to your family doctor or dermatologist is in order if any of your skin symptoms – like irritation and acne – become a nuisance and don’t respond to at-home treatment. There are no magic bullets to reverse the aging process, but there are medications for conditions such as rosacea and acne. Treatments are also available that may help fight wrinkles, varicose veins and other age-related changes.