In Ask a Dermatologist, Cosmetic, Medical Dermatology, Skin Care

Menopause causes hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, and it also impacts your skin. Fluctuating hormonal changes affect skin health by lowering moisture levels, volume, tightness and more. These changes can lead to itchy, dry skin, rashes, wrinkles and lines, adult acne and more.

Aging is inevitable, but your skin doesn’t have to record each passing day. Read more to learn how menopause affects your skin, common menopause skin conditions and the best skin care for aging skin. 

How menopause affects the skin

As we age, our skin changes. Perimenopause and menopause can significantly influence those changes, too. 

Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause characterized by fluctuating hormones, erratic periods, hot flashes and night sweats. Perimenopause can last from three to 10 years and vary greatly from person to person.  

Menopause begins 12 months after the last period and typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The ovaries slow down and eventually stop making estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. 

The decrease in estrogen and progesterone can bring about frustrating menopausal skin changes. Estrogen encourages water retention, and progesterone regulates the skin’s sebum oil production. Sebum oil moisturizes the skin and protects it from toxins and pathogens. 

Low levels of estrogen and progesterone may cause dry, itchy skin that is thinner, more sensitive and prone to a menopause rash. Low estrogen can also slow down wound healing.      

Collagen production also decreases as estrogen levels drop. Collagen provides structure, firmness and volume to the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, collagen levels can drop up to 30% during the first five years of menopause. This can lead to sagging, lines and wrinkles.  

The skin’s pH balance also changes due to fluctuating hormones. These changes can increase skin sensitivity and irritation or cause related menopause rashes. 

Common menopause-related skin conditions

When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. Understanding what is happening inside your body prepares you for menopause skin changes and empowers you to fight them. Hormonal changes affect your skin in many ways. 

Some common menopause-related skin conditions include:

  • Sagging, wrinkly skin – Decreasing amounts of estrogen and progesterone cause declining production of collagen, elastin and sebum oil. Over time, the changes reduce skin hydration, firmness, volume and protection. 
  • Dry, itchy skin – During menopause, itchy skin can range from mild to severe. Lower estrogen levels reduce the skin’s moisture, making it more sensitive to soaps and detergents. While dryness and itching are common in menopause, your skin should not be visibly irritated or disrupt your life or sleep. If your dry, itchy skin is negatively affecting your life, please contact us to get help. 
  • Menopause rash – Fluctuating hormones and pH levels in the skin during menopause can make the skin more sensitive and prone to irritation and rashes. Women with rosacea or eczema may have more frequent outbreaks.
  • Menopausal acne – During menopause, skin cell production and turnover become less frequent and efficient, leading to duller, more acne-prone skin. Also, while estrogen levels decrease, androgen levels may not and may instead increase oils that clog pores. Some menopausal acne does go away after perimenopause.
  • Dark spots or hyperpigmentation – Age spots, liver spots or dark spots are all different names for hyperpigmentation of the skin (which has nothing to do with the liver). They often appear during and after menopause because of the cumulative effects of sun damage. Skin cancer can start as an age spot or skin spot. To be safe, see your dermatologist for regular skin exams and yearly skin checks.
  • Unwanted facial hair – Changing hormone levels can also spur unwanted facial hair. Though estrogen levels vary widely during menopause, androgen hormone levels stay relatively the same. Without estrogen to balance the androgen, the androgen hormones may increase facial hair and cause hair loss of the head.  
  • Thinner skin and easier bruising – Several factors cause thinning skin and easier bruising. Slower skin cell turnover, lower collagen and elastin, loss of fat in the skin, and more fragile blood vessels all lead to thinner skin. Thinner skin is more prone to injury, dryness, loss of elasticity and fragile blood vessels. 

Skin care routine as your skin ages

As your body changes, you will need to develop a new menopause skincare regime.

To prevent aging skin, avoid tanning and tanning oils, excessive caffeine and alcohol use, and smoking. Then, establish an anti-aging skincare routine with the tips below. 

Gently cleanse skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Washing your face in the morning and evening keeps skin fresh by removing dead skin cells, makeup and dirt. Gentle, non-foaming cleansers are best for aging skin unless your skin is oily. Look for cleansers with salicylic acid to treat menopausal acne. 

Choose products for sensitive skin without fragrances and dyes. According to Columbia Skin Clinic dermatologist Asha James, ZO Recovery Crème is the best moisturizer for aging skin. This rich, fragrance-free moisturizer treats moderate dryness and redness while visibly softening fine, dynamic lines. It is clinically proven to rejuvenate the appearance of fragile skin, including skin of the neck.  

Use warm, not hot, water for bathing. Hot water strips oils from the skin increasing dryness and itchiness. Use warm water instead to retain moisture and prevent dry menopause skin. 

Apply moisturizer immediately after patting your face dry. Do not rub your face after cleaning. Instead, pat it dry and apply your moisturizer while your face is damp. Moisturizing creams work best when there is already a little moisture on the skin. Generally, moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides or glycerine do the best job of keeping the skin hydrated. 

Treat and prevent menopausal acne with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and adapalene. If any of these ingredients make your skin dry or irritated, stop using the product and talk to your dermatologist.

Regular exfoliation can reduce age spots and acne. For the best results, exfoliate once a week. Too frequent exfoliation can dry out your skin and cause irritation. 

Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to your face daily. Sun damage causes the most visible aging on all skin types. The best anti-aging skin care advice we can give is to use sun protection every day. If you are in the water or sun for more than a few hours, reapply to minimize sunburns, age spots and damage to your skin. 

Relieve itchy skin. Cool, wet compresses can immediately help relieve itching. After removing the compress, apply a moisturizer to soak into the skin. Also, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends colloidal oatmeal baths to help with itching. 

Slow visible aging with skin care products, aesthetic procedures and injectables. Columbia Skin Clinic dermatologists treat aging and menopausal skin conditions every day. A personalized treatment plan can help you achieve healthier, hydrated and visibly younger-looking skin. 

Through skin care products, facials, dermaplaning and microdermabrasion, we can help your skin feel refreshed and fight signs of aging.

Injectables can slow the process of aging with minimally invasive procedures. We offer many injectable procedures to foster younger-looking skin. Our practice uses high-quality, trusted brands like Botox, Dysport, Daxxify, Juvéderm, Skinvive and Kybella.  

We also offer laser hair removal and electrolysis to help with unwanted facial or body hair that may appear during menopause.

Columbia Skin Clinic can help with your menopause skin care challenges 

Though skin changes are inevitable with age, the experienced dermatologists at Columbia Skin Clinic can help reduce menopause skin changes. Anti-aging skin care can reduce the effects of menopause on your skin. Use the helpful tips above to treat acne, itchiness, dryness, sagging and wrinkles. 

Contact Columbia Skin Clinic to find out how we can support you and your skin care needs during menopause.

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