The Menopause Effect on the Skin

Menopause basics

As we all know menopause is a normal part of life and leads to changing hormone levels.   These changes usually begin in the perimenopause phase which can occur several years before menopause.  Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can lead to symptoms during perimenopause and in time when the ovaries produce less estrogen menopause symptoms can start.  The average age of menopause is 51 but can be significantly earlier or later. 

Menopause Symptoms and Effects

Menopause can have lots of symptoms including the well-known hot flashes and night sweats.  In addition to these two symptoms menopause can change the physiology of the skin in new and different ways and accelerate the aging in your skin.  Estrogen stimulates the production of proteins inlcuding collagen and elastin (that helps the skin look smooth and tight) and oils (that help moisturize the skin).  As estrogen decreases during perimenopause and menopause collagen and oil decrease in the skin and this can result in dry and itchy skin that is less able to retain moisture.  This happens all over the body and not in specific areas.  A loss of estrogen levels can also decrease blood flow to the skin which can thin the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).  A thin outer layer of the skin also contributes to a loss of moisture in the skin. Estrogen also helps to keep fat deposits under the skin which helps the skin to look smooth and firm.  As estrogen decreases the fat under the skin decreases making the skin sag more.

Skin Treatments for Menopause

Fortunately there are several things you can do to keep your skin soft and smooth during menopause!  Eating the right foods full of essential fatty acids can help your skins oil barrier to keep the skin hydrated.  Some of these foods include salmon, walnuts, flax, safflower oil, and fortified eggs.  A broad spectrum sunblock will also keep your skin from getting damaged by the sun, which can dry and wrinkle the skin even more.  Cooler showers with gentle soap will also help keep the shower experience from stripping the essential oils off of your body.  Finally moisturize your skin after showers and whenever it feels dry.