Pregnancy is the time when a baby is conceived and develops inside a woman's body. On the other hand, menopause signals the end of a woman's fertility. The woman no longer ovulates or has menstrual periods.
Despite being polar opposites, pregnancy and menopause present several concerns that are very similar, specifically in relation to how they affect a woman's skin.
Skin Changes Common to Both Pregnancy and Menopause
During pregnancy, the body goes through many physical and hormonal changes that affect the skin in various ways.
Similarly, menopause also causes changes in the body.
Here are skin symptoms that are common to both pregnancy and menopause:
Many of our patients complain of this during pregnancy and menopause. All those fluctuating hormones in your body can cause the oil glands to secrete more oil, leading to breakouts. the good news is that adult acne should improve after your baby is born.
As for menopause, it does not seem fair to have to deal with pimples, wrinkles and menopausal symptoms at the same time.
Still, acne in menopausal women is rarely severe enough to warrant medical treatment, and once your hormones balance out, the acne usually goes away.
In either case, do not neglect the recommended home skin care tips.
- Wash acne-prone skin daily with a cleanser that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid, which helps unclog pores.
- Try not to scrub too hard when exfoliating, as this could irritate your skin.
- Do not pop the pimples. While very tempting, it can make the problem worse or lead to scarring.
- Avoid tanning and apply sunscreen to the face when outdoors.
Remember that at-home remedies are usually free of the risks that most professional cosmetic treatments carry, but they may not be as effective. For stronger acne treatments, feel free to make an appointment with us to discuss the options.
Although it's not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of itchy skin itching during pregnancy, here is a list of some common reasons why you feel the urge to scratch:
- Stretching skin. During first pregnancies or multiple pregnancy, the skin tends to stretch more than it's used to. This often results in stretch marks and itchiness around those areas.
- Dryness. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause itchy, flaky, dry skin.
- Cholestasis. This is a liver disorder that can lead to a buildup of bile acids in the blood, causing itching. (more on this later)
- Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This is an itchy rash that occurs around stretch marks in the later stages of the pregnancy.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy as well as menopause can cause a number of skin conditions, including hot flashes, excessive sweating and itching.
This is because of the vital role that the hormone estrogen plays in skin health and the fact that its levels are greatly affected when a woman is in either state.
Unfortunately, facial hair may develop during pregnancy, possibly due to an increase in sex hormones called androgens, the most common of which is testosterone.
In menopausal women, estrogen levels also decrease while androgen levels go up.
This testosterone-estrogen imbalance is often the leading cause of the particularly pronounced hairs under the chin, around the jawline and above the upper lip.
The good news is that if you want to remove hair, you do have options. That said, while there are many hair removal options on the market today, laser hair removal is simply the best.
While you can use store-bought laser devices for hair removal at home, they are less powerful than the professional devices you will find in a medical esthetics clinic.
Another advantage is that your laser hair removal specialist knows the anatomy of the skin better and how to minimize the side effects of energy-based hair removal.
Note that pregnant women are strongly advised against using laser hair removal until after they have given birth.
Changes to Skin Occurring Only in Pregnancy
The mask of pregnancy
These two benign conditions are the result of increased pigmentation caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones. Melasma, also known as the 'mask of pregnancy’, causes dark spots on the face, often on the nose and cheeks.
If you have this problem, you are not alone. Nearly 75 per cent of pregnant women have the mask of pregnancy.
This increase in pigmentation can affect any area of your body that is more pigmented. For example, many women report much darker freckles or areolas than normal. And the darker your skin tone, the more you will notice these changes.
Do not worry - these changes will not be with you forever. Most should subside after you give birth. While melasma sometimes does not go away, we can treat it after pregnancy and minimise the symptoms.
Cholestasis during pregnancy
Cholestasis in pregnancy is a liver condition that results from high levels of pregnancy hormones interfering with the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder.
This condition occurs in the third trimester and can cause severe itching all over the body. It is often worse on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, causing patients to feel miserable and unable to sleep. Cholestasis in pregnancy may also be accompanied by jaundice (a yellow discolouration of the skin and eyes).
A simple blood test can determine if you have cholestasis in pregnancy, and the condition can be treated with medication. It might also go away on its own once you've given birth.
Interested in learning the other ways, pregnancy can affect a woman’s skin? Read: Why Your Face Has Changed So Much From Pregnancy
Changes to Skin Occurring Only in Menopause
Sagging Skin, Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Estrogen promotes the formation of collagen and elastin; the building blocks essential to keeping skin plump, hydrated and strong.
When your estrogen declines, it will directly affect your skin. For one, your body stops making as much collagen.
As a matter of fact, in the first five years of menopause, a woman can lose approximately 30% of her skin’s collagen.
You also lose some fat under your skin, and the elasticity of your skin decreases. And don’t forget the ageing process which slows down our skin’s ability to shed and replace new skin cells.
These factors, combined with decades of exposure to the sun and environmental pollutants, can lead to sagging skin, especially on your neck, jawline and cheeks, as well as fine lines and wrinkles.
Continue Reading: Other Ways Menopause Can Affect Your Skin
Get Your Best Skin Either Way
Whether pregnancy or menopause is causing havoc on your skin, don't for a moment believe you are helpless. At Dr Aesthetica we pride ourselves on helping women of all ages achieve the best skin possible through a combination of professional and at-home treatments.
We are here for you. So feel free to get in touch any day for a free skin assessment.