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Skin Health Q2 2022

How to look after your skin during menopause

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Vanessa Nunes

Dr Emma Wedgeworth

Consultant Dermatologist

Menopause is defined as one year after a woman’s last menstrual period and in the UK the average age is 52. The decline in oestrogen (oestradiol) is the defining feature, which can have an impact on your skin.

Oestrogen has a multitude of effects on the skin via oestrogen receptors present in the nuclei of skin cells. Therefore, it is no surprise that the skin can change significantly during menopause. Studies suggest that around 70% of women will notice some changes in their skin during menopause and this can manifest in a number of ways:

1) Dryness

Oestrogen boosts skin barrier function and hydration of skin, increasing levels of natural water-holding molecules known as glycosaminoglycans. As menopause approaches, skin gets dryer and more sensitive due to the loss of moisture.

2) Sensitivity:

The loss of hydration results in a reduction in skin’s natural robustness and it can become increasingly sensitive. People may notice reactions to harsher products like acids or fragrances and the skin may feel uncomfortable with burning and stinging. Hot flushes of menopause may exacerbate this and redness may also be a problem.

3) Skin thinning

Menopausal women will often notice an increase in lines, wrinkling and sagging. This is a result of the reduction in collagen. Collagen is a key structural protein within our skin and as we get older, the quantity and the quality of collagen reduces, lines and wrinkles start to appear on the skin. Loss of collagen is gradual over many years but accelerates around the time of the menopause. 

Studies suggest that around 70% of women will notice some changes in their skin during menopause

4) Breakouts:

Perimenopause, in particular, may be a time of intense hormonal fluctuation. This can result in more breakouts and spots, particularly around the lower face and jaw. In addition, changing HRT regimes with varying components of progesterone and testosterone can also contribute.

5) Supporting skin during menopause

There are a number of ways you can support your skin during the menopausal period.

Firstly, keep skincare very gentle. If you are noticing signs of ageing, the temptation may be to ramp up your skincare, but go slowly. A gentle nonfoaming cleanser, rich moisturiser and unfragranced products are essential at this time. Skin also becomes more vulnerable to environmental damage as it ages, so daily sunscreen and careful sun protection are important.

Finally, a healthy lifestyle is an important component of keeping skin healthy during menopause. Boost your oral antioxidant intake with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Stop smoking, minimise alcohol and keep active.

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