Do you feel like you’ve gone back to your teens with full-blown acne? Or is your skin so dry that you notice every extra wrinkle? Kathy Abernethy, Peppy’s Director of Menopause Services, explains why your complexion changes in menopause – and offers tips on what you can do to glow again.
- A shift in hormone activity and collagen production can have a knock-on effect on your skin during menopause.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can potentially improve the appearance of fine wrinkles and elasticity, while antihistamines can relieve itchy skin.
- Prioritise diet, exercise and mental health for your skin’s wellbeing. Simple steps such as keeping hydrated and using sunscreen can also have a positive impact on how you look – and feel.
Common symptoms of menopause include hot sweats, vaginal dryness and brain fog.
But what if we told you that hormone changes can also affect your skin?
What’s going on with your hormones and collagen production?
Before menopause, oestrogen levels promote water retention and encourage plumpness.
A decline in oestrogen and progesterone — important hormones produced in your ovaries – occurs during and after menopause, and this causes a decrease in collagen production.
Collagen helps to keep your skin tight, which is why it is often praised in the beauty industry, particularly when it comes to anti-ageing products.
Collagen is your skin’s largest protein. It’s also found in:
A rapid reduction in collagen takes place in the first five years after menopause, and further declines at a steadier rate over time.
This results in:
- an increase in wrinkles all over your body
- facial lines around your eyes and lips
- less firm skin
- slower recovery from a cut or bruise.
Do hormones play a role in your menopausal acne?
The simple answer is, yes. Whiteheads, blackheads or pimples can arise due to an imbalance in your body during this period.
Other hormones known as androgens tend to increase, a process which can manifest as acne.
But while hormones play a part, it’s important to note that other things can also lead to an increase in acne, including a habitual lack of sleep and exercise, high stress, poor diet and genetics.
The link between oestrogen and hyperpigmentation
You have noticed a rise in darker spots on your face or body.
The decrease in oestrogen that happens around menopause is also responsible for melanin production (hyperpigmentation).
That’s what can lead to dark spots showing up anywhere on your body – they can be especially noticeable on the face, and can often appear on the neck, and they may get worse after sun exposure.
While these brown patches are widely (unfairly) named as ‘age spots’, hyperpigmentation can also occur as a result of:
- scarring – excess melanin is produced as your skin heals from a wound or irritation
- sun exposure – sunlight triggers the production of melanin.
Dermatologists can suggest creams and treatments that will fade these marks.
You can also try a range of beauty treatments including lightening creams, retinoids, face acids, laser peel, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.
But do ask a dermatologist or skincare specialist for advice.
Is HRT a skin saviour?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by using oestrogen, progesterone or testosterone to help cope with menopause.
Oestrogen therapy is said to help stimulate collagen and improve skin thickness, and this can potentially improve the appearance of fine wrinkles and dryness.
One study found that there was a 10 to 20 per cent increase in skin thickness in a group of women treated by HRT versus those who weren’t.
Whilst HRT can be beneficial, many dermatologists agree that the most effective way to prevent ageing of the skin, even through menopause, is to prevent sun damage. So remember to wear an SPF 50+ sunscreen every day.
Tackling those uncontrollable itches with antihistamines
Do you ever experience a tickly feeling that is so difficult to get your mind away from?
Generalised skin itching — also known as formication — is a symptom of menopause that can be quite marked and is described as a ‘crawling sensation’.
Research suggests that fluctuations in hormones can trigger sensitive skin, with a recent study finding that ‘among post-menopausal women claiming sensitive skin, over 70 per cent perceived an increase’ after the phase.
There’s good news though — antihistamines, especially taken at night, might help combat the discomfort – and these itches are usually a short-lasting symptom.
Antihistamines can be purchased over-the-counter, but please contact your healthcare professional for more medical information.
5 ways to keep skin glowing
- Use sunscreen every day to help prevent wrinkles and reduce how they appear.
- Consider using a moisturiser that contains retinol which may promote the production of collagen.
- Stay well hydrated as general dryness leads to drier skin.
- Upgrade your skincare regimen and your routine to adapt to changes from menopause.
- Keep it simple and avoid products that are perfumed, or contain alcohol which dry out your skin.
Live a glowing lifestyle
Feeling good on the inside really does make a difference to how you look on the outside.
To maximise skin wellbeing, a healthy diet packed full of fruit, vegetables and good fats, regular exercise, plenty of water and regular self-care activities can all help.
Pay attention to stress-busting strategies – feeling your best and making your health a priority, will help you look your best too.
Remember we’re here to help, so feel free to contact one of our practitioners for more information.