For most women, menopause presents a host of problems. Hot flashes, mood swings, decreased sexual desires are just a few of the symptoms associated with menopause. These alone causes many discomforts to women in their 50s.
If you’re one of the women experiencing menopause, one obvious with degrading skin quality. Many menopausal women complain of more prominent dry skin, wrinkles and bags under their eyes. Together with other physical, psychological, and behavioral changes, skin problems contribute to their lowered self-esteem and increased bouts of depression.
Skin problems during menopause
So what causes these changes in menopause? The natural aging process that leads to hormone imbalance is to be blamed for the loss in skin radiance. Hormone imbalance contributes to the decreased production of collagen. This condition lessens fat under the skin, making it less elastic. Meanwhile, just as doctors point at hormone imbalance as the primary reason for a string of health maladies, they also link it to a less supple skin. A combination of collagen loss and hormone imbalance in women can result in many skin problems stated below:
Oily skin – As estrogen levels drop during menopause, the woman’s body is no longer protected from testosterone (which is produced by the adrenal glands). Women will realize rising testosterone by stimulating sebaceous glands to release oil inside the skin. This process increases the tendency of some women to have adult acne.
Facial hair – The unmasking of testosterone give way for the development of facial hair in some women, specifically in the chin area.
Sagging skin and wrinkles – One of the functions of estrogen is to stimulate fat deposits over the entire the female body. As estrogen levels decrease, fat deposits are often concentrated only over the midsection: on the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. This redistribution leads to a loss of supportive fat underneath the skin of the upper body, allowing the appearance of less flexible skin and wrinkles. Fat deposits are also lessened in the breasts causing them to sag and flatten.
Thinning of the outer skin – Another function of estrogen is the growth and maintenance of small blood vessels under the skin. During menopause, blood flow through these blood vessels is reduced. This process cuts down the supply of available nutrients and oxygen in the skin. This condition results to the thinning of the outer skin and a slower cell turnover rate, resulting to dry skin.
Increased susceptibility to sun damage – Estrogen is in charge of melanin production. With less production of melanin, skin becomes more prone to sun damage.
More “age spots” – As a regulator of melanin production, estrogen keeps it under control. Melanin synthesis steps up in skin areas that have been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays over the years. Excessive exposure to UV rays may result in brownish “age spots” that appear on your face, hands, neck, chest, and arms.
More serious skin disorders
But more than loss of skin’s elasticity and dryness, doctors warn menopausal women of increased tendency to suffer from these more serious skin issues that are likely to appear during post-menopause:
- Senile Purpura – these are purplish spots (bruises) that usually appear on the arms and legs following a minor trauma.
- Stasis Dermatitis – is a skin inflammation, characterized by dry, itchy skin as a result of blood accumulated in the blood vessels in the legs. Elderly women are more prone to have this than men.
- Exfoliative Dermatitis – is characterized by excessive peeling and shedding of the skin. It is a more severe form of dermatitis than stasis dermatitis. It is characterized by excessive peeling and shedding of skin.
- Skin Infections and parasitic infestations such as ringworm or scabies.
- Appearance of benign and malignant skin growths
- Viral skin diseases that include herpes zoster and shingles.
Skincare during menopause
You should start taking extra care of your skin to avoid these serious skin problems. And the best way to avoid experiencing these dreaded skin maladies during menopause is to be proactive in dealing with them. Take a look at a few tips below on how to nurse your skin.
- Keep your sunblock handy. As mentioned above, your skin becomes more prone to sun damage during menopause. Put on lotion with broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every day if possible.
- Use only mild soaps and cleansing products as those with scent, antibacterial, or deodorizing properties can upset your skin and remove the essential oils in your body. Using skin products with strong chemicals may leave the skin even more itchy and dry. Use unscented or lightly scented variants instead.
- Put on moisturizers after every shower. Again choose the mild ones as they could irritate the skin. Natural moisturizers are easier on the skin.
- Say no to steamy showers. While hot baths and showers may feel good, hot water may dry your skin. Stop stripping your skin of its natural oils. Never stay in the shower for long and use warm water.
- Take more smart fats from your diet. Eat as many foods rich in omega-3s as you can. Omega-3s aid in the production of your skin’s oil barrier. It is also a key ingredient in keeping skin hydrated.
- Consider undergoing hormone replacement therapy for women to address hormone imbalance.
- Quit smoking and too much alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol reduce skin’s moisture.
- Drink more water to keep your body and skin hydrated.
- Exercise regularly as it can increase collagen production.
Beauty is indeed skin deep. As menopause start to take its toll, you can still retain your youthful glow by taking better care of your skin.
Dr. George Shanlikian, M.D., is the medical director of Genemedics Health Institute. He is a national leader in the field of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and preventative medicine. Dr. George has spent over 17 years and thousands of hours of training in BHRT and has helped thousands of women and men suffering from symptoms of hormone imbalance.