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With consideration of a person’s age, genetic makeup, medical history, and/or the current stage of menopause they’re in (perimenopause, menopause or post-menopause), the type of symptoms they undergo may vary. In spite of these factors, however, the majority of women generally share one common complaint: skin changes during menopause.
Menopause is a menstrual transition that all women endure at one point or another as a result of the natural aging process. Typically affecting those between the ages of 40-58, menopause officially begins one year after a female’s last menstrual cycle and lasts for roughly four to five years. During this time, most women will start to experience internal and external changes in their bodies. Some of these menopausal symptoms may include hot flashes, sleeping problems, night sweats, chills, pain during intercourse, increased anxiety, or irritability.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Skin?
Because this menstrual transition causes hormone levels to plummet, the elasticity of a woman’s skin tends to become negatively impacted, which can lead to other complexion-related skin changes during menopause.
Specifically, the drop in estrogen causes the dermis, the skin’s outermost layer, to produce fewer glycosaminoglycans (GAGS), which ultimately leads to a loss of collagen content.
Since collagen is responsible for both the structure and elastin of the skin, it’s no wonder why so many women have trouble preserving their healthy, youthful glow. Today, we look at five other associated skin issues most women have or will likely encounter throughout menopause.
Skin Changes During Menopause: Everything You Need to Know
Similar to the way hormones play a role in the development of teenage-acne, women oftentimes experience adult acne as they go through menopause.
With a drop in estrogen and an increase in cortisol—a stress-related hormone—females are bound to break out.
The reasoning for this relates to the production of androgens—a group of hormones that regulates the maintenance and development of male characteristics and reproductive activity. Androgens can stimulate the oil glands of the skin, which trigger these acne outbreaks in menopausal women.
Fine Lines & Wrinkles
As the elasticity of the skin declines, wrinkles often become more prominent on a woman’s complexion.
For those of you who regularly sun-bathe—whether it be done on a sandy beach or in a tanning bed—your skin is especially more susceptible to this skin concern as too much sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure is regarded as one of the leading causes to visibly aged skin.
Aside from premature wrinkles, sun-exposed areas of the skin (your face, hands, neck, etc.) are more likely to struggle with other skin issues such as premature fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots, all of which are attributed to the signs of aging. Each of these skin problems can become more apparent as menopause transpires.
Due to the reduction of estrogen levels and the hormonal imbalance, the skin typically loses some of its ability to retain moisture because your body’s oil production slows down.
This, combined with environmental conditions like cold air and low humidity, can make it increasingly difficult for women to maintain hydrated, nourished skin. From a parched t-zone to scaly elbows, menopause can dry out all areas of the skin.
Dry skin is thought to be a “whole-body phenomenon” as it can appear almost anywhere on your skin (most notably on your face, back, arms, or legs) during menopause and can have permanent effects on a woman’s complexion in the long run.
In addition to dry skin, a lack of collagen and natural oils can also lead to itchiness or irritation. Itchy skin, formally known as pruritus, usually develops during perimenopause and may briefly continue after menopause.
Although it can occur anywhere, itchy skin will most likely surface on the face, chest, limbs, back, and neck.
If left untreated, pruritus can further irritate the skin and cause it to become more flakey. Or, in some cases, it can even worsen other preexisting skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea.
When hormone levels fall, it becomes harder for the skin to heal. Aside from the severity of a wound, most women will notice a reduction of efficiency in wound healing.
Bruises that would normally only need a week or two to heal will likely need an additional two or three weeks to properly recover during menopause and post-menopause.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to treat this issue. With a decline of hormone levels and thinner skin, the best way to care for this skin concern is to give it some extra time to clear up on its own.
How to Care for Your Skin Changes During Menopause
If you’re a woman undergoing one or more of these menopausal symptoms, don’t worry! There are many preventative measures you can take to stop menopause from worsening your skin.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your menstrual transition, consider following these tips when caring for your skin:
Use Retinol Skincare Products
Retinol is an ingredient that derives from vitamin A and serves to support the natural barrier of your skin as it works to boost the amount of collagen in your body and increase cell turnover. In turn, this can help to improve skin texture, tone, and hyperpigmentation.
So, whether you’re searching for an anti-aging serum or an acne cream, try to look for skincare containing retinol when treating your menopausal skin.
Search for Fragrance-Free Skincare Products
Body lotions, moisturizers, perfumes, and certain soaps can all come packed with different fragrances that can ultimately provoke the skin to become irritated.
For this reason, try to avoid those scented skincare products, no matter how delicious they may smell. This will help to keep your skin from becoming overly aggravated or inflamed.
Seek Guidance from a Skincare Professional
Health check-ups are extremely important when it comes to keeping your health in line. Just as a regular healthcare provider can catch problems early on and bring you peace of mind, so can a skincare expert.
To save yourself from all the trial-and-error that comes with treating menopausal skin, schedule an appointment with a certified dermatologist or esthetician. Their skincare expertise can not only allow you to better understand the root of your skin concerns but also allow you to determine the best ways to care for it.
Protect With SPF
Sunblock should no longer be an optional step in your daily skincare routine. It doesn’t matter if you choose to apply a facial sunscreen or a tinted moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF, be sure to finish up your morning skin regimen by applying.
To shield your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, be sure to protect with SPF. For optimal protection, remember to allow it a few minutes to dry before exposing your skin to the sun and reapply throughout the day as necessary.