Skin Problems and Menopause: An FAQ
Natural aging creates some inevitable physical and biochemical changes, including the transition from the childbearing years to menopause. These changes often extend to your skin’s resilience, thickness, and health, paving the way for a variety of uncomfortable or embarrassing dermatological conditions.
Thankfully, you can protect your skin against many of menopause’s effects once you understand how menopause affects the skin and what dermatologists can do for these changes. Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions on the subject.
Why Does Menopause Produce Skin Changes in Women?
The advent of menopause itself doesn’t directly cause skin changes or problems. Instead, this transitional period reshuffles your hormonal balances, which, in turn, affects many physical functions. As your body produces less and less estrogen, you also lose collagen, an important connective tissue that gives skin its youthful elasticity.
You can start experiencing perimenopause up to ten years before you actually enter menopause. During this preliminary phase, ovulation becomes less regular and estrogen levels start to drop. You may develop hot flashes that make your skin flushed and sweaty before developing other hormonally triggered skin changes.
What Kinds of Skin Problems Can You Encounter During Menopause?
You may start having trouble with your skin during the years of perimenopause. Problems commonly occurring during these years include excessively oily or dry skin as well as acne breakouts. Some women experience reddening facial skin or visible facial veins, an issue known as rosacea.
The reduced estrogen levels associated with menopause can also promote skin dryness, rashes, and itching. Since other health challenges can also include these symptoms, check your overall health through laboratory tests that can pinpoint the exact source of your skin distress.
Less estrogen also means less protection against sun damage. This vulnerability can encourage wrinkles and discolorations called age spots. Even if you don’t mind such spots, you should still make sure that they don’t actually represent another, more serious problem such as melanoma.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Menopause-Related Skin Problems?
Dermatologists take blood samples and discuss your condition to confirm the connection between a skin problem and menopause. Based on this information, your dermatologist can then prescribe a variety of treatments to help minimize the effects of menopause on your skin health, from short-term relief to long-term strategies.
If your periods stopped completely at least six months ago, you may start receiving estrogen therapy to help minimize skin aging, sagging, dryness, and wrinkling. You might also receive spironolactone. This drug blocks the production of androgens, hormones that might cause acne breakouts in the absence of estrogen.
Not everyone makes an ideal candidate for estrogen therapy or other kinds of hormone replacement therapy. Make sure that you have medical clearance to undergo such therapy, especially if you have a known heart condition or health risk factor that might make it a bad idea.
What Can You Do to Minimize Your Symptoms?
In addition to hormone therapy, your dermatologist can recommend specific skin care products to help you control certain menopause-related problems. For example, products containing retinoids or peptoids can increase your collagen production to help preserve your skin’s strength, elasticity, and youthful appearance.
If you count itching among your menopausal skin symptoms, your dermatologist may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications containing hydrocortisone or some other corticosteroid. You may even enjoy good results from home remedies such as oatmeal baths.
Ask your dermatologist about other smart self-care strategies for keeping your skin healthy and comfortable during menopause. Suggestions may include sunscreen, nutritional supplementation, and moisturizers.
If perimenopause, menopause, or some other underlying biochemical change has left you with a nagging skin issue, contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC. We can diagnose the cause of your problem, administer treatment as needed, and advise you on how to help your skin weather this transition.