Skin changes

Dryness, wrinkling and sagging skin are unfortunately, one of the signs of the menopause as well as a statement of growing older. Our skins age over time and this ageing can clearly be seen in the years leading up to the menopause.

We start off with smooth, young looking skins but by the time we reach middle age we have skins which reflect the passage of time and the lifestyles we have led.

The important thing to remember is that changes to your skin are a normal part of the ageing process. There are measures you can take to stop this from happening such as cosmetic surgery but these are short term only.

The signs of ageing cannot be put off for ever so it is better to be realistic about this and grow old gracefully.

Your skin is the part of the body that is always on display so it tends to show the worst symptoms of the menopause. The face, neck and hands are most exposed to the elements and so tend to reflect these changes.

Causes of skin changes

Falling levels of oestrogen means that the skin undergoes a series of changes. These include reduced elasticity due to a slowing down of collagen production.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein in the skin which has a fibrous appearance and is found in the skin, bones, tendons, cartilage and muscles.

Collagen is combined with ‘elastin’ – another type of protein – which gives the skin its strength, firmness and elasticity. Both of these result in a smooth looking skin which is associated with being young.

But both of these proteins degrade over time which results in the skin having a dry, wrinkled appearance. The skin becomes thinner, drier and flaky looking. It is also prone to bruising, itchiness and rashes.

There are women who claim to experience a ‘crawling’feeling with their skin.

But dry skin is not the only skin change caused by fluctuating hormones.

Acne and the menopause

Hard to believe but it is possible to develop acne during the menopause. Acne is a skin condition which occurs during puberty and usually affects teenage boys.

This is due to rampaging hormones at that time.

But rampaging hormones are a feature of the menopause so perhaps it is not surprising that many women develop acne during this transition. This is caused by a surge in androgens (male hormone) but it can also occur as a result of stress or if the woman is still menstruating.

What makes this even worse is if you are trying to cope with dry, wrinkled skin and then find that you have an outbreak of acne to deal with.

Conversely, there are women who had a tendency towards acne during their youth but find that their skin has cleared as a result of the menopause.

Treating skin changes

Over the counter remedies such as moisturising creams can help as can those designed for oily/greasy skin (suitable for acne) and dry skin.

Exfoliating the skin is another option. This means using a brush or facial/body scrub on the skin to unclog the pores and sweep away dead skin cells. This leaves the skin feeling smooth and younger looking.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is another form of treatment which can help to alleviate skin dryness as well as easing other symptoms of the menopause.

But there are side effects to this treatment so ask your GP for advice. He or she will look at your current state of health, menopausal symptoms and family history before prescribing this treatment.

If he/she feels that you are not suitable for HRT then he/she will suggest an alternative.

Find out more about this and other remedies in our menopause treatment section.

Our skins show the signs of ageing but there are beauty products which can help to disguise these signs. These combined with a healthy lifestyle will ensure that you retain a youthful looking skin.

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