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The Effects of Menopause on Skin

April 30, 2013

Aging is a natural part of life that negatively affects the skin through slowing down the cell turnover, leading to dull skin. The sun and other environmental pollutants damage skin cells, adding to the skin’s dull look and causing wrinkles. For women, menopause expedites this natural aging process, causing even more skin problems. Protecting your skin from an early age will decrease the effects of menopause, keeping you looking younger longer. There are also some important tips to keep your skin looking young and beautiful even during and post-menopause.

Menopause decreases the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body. Many of the messages the body sends to the skin are carried through estrogen; therefore, it has an active role in several vital skin functions. Among estrogen’s skin dependents are the fibroblast, which produces collagen and elastin; the keratinocyte, which protects the skin; the melanoctyes, which keep the skin tone even; the sebaceous gland, which produces the skin’s oil; and hair follicle production. Because estrogen is so active in the skin’s function, the decrease in estrogen during menopause causes many negative changes to the skin.

The decrease of estrogen in the body causes a deficiency in collagen and elastin produced, meaning the skin is not longer as tight as it used to be, leading to sagging and deep wrinkles. Additionally, the lack of estrogen decreases the glycosaminoglycans, which are the support system that fill out the skin, increasing the sagging look of the skin. The lack of elastin post-menopause causes the skin to be less elastic, which adds to the sagging look of the skin. Another negative effect is that the dermal isn’t as thick as it once was, causing it to be more susceptible to damage. In order to counter these issues, once you hit menopause you should look for products that encourage an increase in collagen production. Creams with Vitamin A or Retinol strengthen skin and stimulate collagen. Additionally, Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids increase the thickness of the epidermis, improve the glycosaminoglycans that help fill out the skin, and normalize the skin’s tones. However, these hydroxy acids make you more susceptible to the sun, so it is essential to wear a good sunscreen. A low concentration is all you need.

Estrogen decreases also affect the oil production in the skin. Older skin loses its ability to hold water in due to a reduction in the barrier function of the epidermis. Because estrogen is essential to provide the messages to the oil production in the skin, the decrease of estrogen means there is a decrease in oil production, including hyaluronic acid, causing dryness. The thinness of the skin and lack of water added to a lack of natural moisture leads to rough, dry skin. One way to counteract the dryness of menopause is to moisturize all over, especially the face. Look for moisturizers made for mature skin, like rose oil. Also, using products with hyaluronic acid will help return this essential oil to the skin, tightening and firming and improving your skin’s texture. Additionally, taking fish oils will hydrate your skin from the inside, especially if you start the regime pre-menopause.

The lack of estrogen means testosterone is now the more dominant hormone, causing acne and facial hair. The imbalance of hormones leads to an imbalance of the oil-producing glands. The testosterone stimulates the sebaceous glands to secrete a thicker sebum, which can lead to oily skin and acne in some women. Creams using antibiotics like benzoyl peroxide will help decrease breakouts. The now dominant testosterone can also cause many women to start growing hair on their face and other unwanted places. Waxing, shaving, and bleaching are all ways to decrease unwanted hair.

Estrogen helps monitor melanin production, which evens your skin tone. Once estrogen decreases, the areas that have been more exposed to UV rays over the years produce the melanin that has been held in stasis by estrogen. This causes the brown age spots in the face, hands, neck, arms and chest. Products with alpha hydroxy acid and Vitamin A or Retinol will help diminish these age spots. Menopause also decreases the pigment in skin, making it even more susceptible to the sun. Between the sun’s damaging UV rays that cause premature aging and fine wrinkles and potentially cancer, it is always good to slather on the SPF. With the added changes due to menopause, it is even more so.

Some studies have shown that hormone therapy during menopause can help counter the negative affects on the skin. However, hormone therapy just to treat the skin is not a recommended action. Hormone therapy has its pros and cons, so only use it if your doctor recommends it due to the overall affects of menopause on your body. However, with or without hormone treatment the tips suggested above will help your skin look ageless. Some experts also suggest using skincare products containing plant-based estrogens like soy and yam, which will rebalance hormone levels and boost collagen production.

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