How Does the Menopause Affect Skin?
Menopause can have a significant impact on skin, but there are lots of things we can do to counteract these effects. In this article, our experts break down the relationship between menopause and skin, as well as touching on potential menopause skin care solutions.
Menopause can have a significant impact on skin, but there are lots of things we can do to counteract these effects. In this article, we will break down the relationship between menopause and skin, as well as touching on potential menopause skin care solutions.
What is the menopause?
Before we get into menopause skin changes, let’s first take a closer look at what happens to your body during menopause.
And while it can be a challenging subject to talk about - a potentially tricky and emotive time in a woman's life - the menopause is a completely natural part of ageing. It heralds the end of a woman’s ability to get pregnant naturally, though a woman can still give birth after an IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation).
Menopause is typically defined as the point 12 months after a woman’s last period. The time leading up to this is known as the perimenopause, usually starting in your mid-forties to mid-fifties. Sometimes, this can start a little bit later or a little bit earlier than those ages, and it can last for quite a few years!
During this transition period, oestrogen and progesterone – the hormones produced by the ovaries – will be in a variable state of flux. It’s important to note that a woman can still conceive naturally during the perimenopause, so keep using contraception if you don’t want a little surprise!
Menopause can also be initiated immediately, if a woman has had a hysterectomy (womb removal) or oophorectomy (when one of both of the ovaries are surgically removed). A bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is when both fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed.
To find out more about your body’s transition, read our collagen, ageing, and the menopause blog post
What happens to skin during menopause?
While hot flushes, mood swings, and unexpected weight gain are some of the most well-known symptoms, not everyone is aware of the menopause skin changes that occur during this transition too. Read on to find out the most common menopause skin problems that many face.
Menopause and dry skin
One of the most common – and noticeable - changes during the menopause is dry skin. It may crack and fissure, becoming flaky, and you may experience crawling sensations on your skin. This causes itchy skin during menopause that just refuses to go away.
But why do we have dry and itchy skin during menopause? Well, the loss of oestrogen in this period can cause rapid loss of collagen within the skin – which is a key protein in supporting the structure of your skin. In fact, studies have shown that up to 30% of collagen is lost from the skin within the first five years of the menopause. As such, the skin has a compromised ability to hold on to moisture, leading to menopause skin problems, such as dryness, cracking, flaking and itching.
Menopause dry skin can be exacerbated by cold, dry winter weather too, so be sure to take extra care of your skin at these times, following tips from our winter skin care blog post.
You can also combat itchy skin during menopause by sticking to a good menopause skin care routine, such as:
- Use a mild gentle cleanser, rather than soaps.
- Moisturise after cleaning and when your skin feels dry is essential for a good menopause skin care routine.
- Be careful with menopause skin care products, such as skin peels and skin scrubs (especially deep rough scrubs), as other menopause skin can be thinner and more sensitive.
- Use non-comedogenic products if you can, as menopause skin can be prone to blackheads and acne.
Menopause and thin skin
Similar to menopause and dry skin, thinner skin is a side effect of collagen loss. This, paired with an impaired skin barrier function, means your skin is more prone to tearing and bruising.
A loss of thickness also means menopause skin is not only more susceptible to sun damage and photoaging (when the sun prematurely ages the skin), but more likely to show signs of any pre-existing sun damage too.
To better manage these menopause skin changes, a high quality SPF 30 is an essential addition to your morning skin care routine – and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day, if you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
Menopause and sensitive skin
Menopause skin changes also affect your pH levels, causing dysfunction to the beneficial flora and fauna in your skin, as well as various defence cells. This makes you more prone to rashes and irritation, in turn leading to itchy skin during menopause.
Should you already suffer with sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, you may also find that your symptoms worsen during menopause. In rare and extreme cases, some people may actually develop these conditions for the first time, as a result of menopause skin changes.
If your skin is particularly sensitive during menopause, make sure to steer clear of fragranced skin products and detergents. You should always patch test new menopause skin care products as well, before applying to large areas of the skin.
Menopause and acne
Understandably, acne can have a significant impact on our confidence, so it’s a good idea to adapt your menopause skin care routine adequately with topical acne products. You’ll want to keep an eye out for menopause skin care products with ingredients such as salicylic acid and retinoids.
If these products aren’t working for you, or your acne is particularly painful, be sure to consult a dermatologist.
Here at Absolute Collagen, we understand that menopause skin changes can be a tough and challenging time. Remember that things that contribute to a healthy, balanced lifestyle, such as a healthy menopause diet, will help, as will exercise and keeping well-hydrated. You also need to look after your mental and emotional health. Talking to your friends and family, for example, can keep your self-esteem and self-worth levels healthy.
If you want to find out how taking collagen can also help manage some of the more uncomfortable symptoms, then take a look at our collagen for menopause blog post. Alternatively, if you have any more questions about how menopause affects skin, just get in touch with the Absolute Collagen team today!