Why does skin age so quickly after menopause, and what does that mean for your skin health? Is there a way to restore that youthful glow, or is it gone forever?
In this series about menopausal skin, we address all the skin changes that occur during menopause and offer a wide range of solutions tailored to each woman's needs.
Continue reading for Part One the Different Way Menopause Can Change Your Skin
Why does the skin age faster after menopause?
In addition to the usual physiological changes such as fatigue and hot flashes, women often complain of a wide array of skin problems during menopause. Unfortunately, this topic is often neglected and there is a lack of research on the subject.
The studies that have been done point to a sharp decline in the level of oestrogen in a woman's body with the onset of menopause. The hormone oestrogen plays an important role in maintaining the youthful quality of the skin.
So any sharp declines will more times than not negatively impact the skin.
In fact, the visible effects of skin ageing in the post-menopause years are less related to chronological age and more to the impact of menopause. For example, younger women who undergo surgical menopause show the same signs of accelerated ageing as women who undergo natural menopause.
What are the most common effects of menopause on the skin?
1.Loss of collagen
Collagen makes up a big part of the skin and gives it firmness and elasticity. Newborns have the highest collagen content, and this remains high until their mid-twenties. Over the next 2-3 decades collagen production slows down gradually. However, in the first five years after menopause, as much as 30% of collagen is lost. This loss is closely related to oestrogen deficiency which accelerates wrinkling and sagging of the skin.
2. Skin laxity and wrinkling
During menopause, the skin rapidly loses glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These are critical molecules in the body that provide hydration and support elastin and collagen in the skin. Once their production levels start to decline due to the drop in estrogen levels, the skin is no longer as plump and elastic as before. As a result, the wrinkles on the face become deeper and the skin looser and flabbier. This can often lead to sagging jowls.
3. Thinning of the skin
In the years after menopause, you will notice that your skin is much more prone to bruising and tearing. This is because the dermis becomes thinner as you age. The thinning of the dermis is due to the loss of collagen and GAGs.
4. Dry skin
Dry skin is one of the most common skin problems reported by older women. Again, hormones play a role in keeping the skin hydrated. Oestrogen is crucial for skin hydration as it increases the production of GAGs and oil in the skin, improves barrier function and increases water retention. When these are compromised the result can be general skin dryness that wasn't there before. Some women who had oily or normal skin have complained of having dry skin after menopause.
Related: Dehydrated vs Dry Skin
5. Skin itching
Pruritus or itchy skin is a common skin concern in women over 65. The itching is usually caused by extreme dryness of the skin. which as we've already mentioned, has been linked to menopause. The lack of collagen and natural oils compromises the skin barrier making it more sensitive to weather and skincare products. This can irritate the skin and cause inflammation and itchiness.
6. Delayed wound healing
Women in their post-menopause years may find that wounds do not heal and close as quickly as before. Studies show that while there is not much difference in wound healing between older pre-menopausal women and younger women, there is a significant difference in recovery time between pre-and post-menopausal women. This tells us that hormones play a bigger role in wound healing.
Unfortunately, acne is not just for teenagers. If you think you have outgrown pimples but are now struggling with breakouts, rest assured: You are not the only one. It's possible to wake up in your 40s or 50s and see pimples, even though you never had a single pimple as a teenager. Acne in older women can appear in the period just before menopause, also called the perimenopause, and last well into your 50s, 60s or even 70s. But do not worry - there are many treatment options available today that can help manage breakouts during and after menopause.
There is no denying that menopausal skin changes can be both uncomfortable and distressing. The good news is there are a number of treatment options to counteract the effects. The earlier you start prevention, the better it is for your skin in the long run.
That said, it's never too late to start taking care of your skin, and there is always something you can do to reverse some of the damage.
Watch out for the rest of the series as we tackle how to take better care of your skin after menopause.
What if you are ready to get started on your post-menopause skin antiageing journey? Reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable staff for a customised treatment plan.