Menopause skin changes
From dryness to rashes, menopause has many different effects on your skin. It’s all down to your changing hormone levels, which can cause menopause skin changes and some of these can really make life difficult. Find out which treatment options are available and when to see a doctor.
MENOPAUSE AND SKIN CHANGES
- General ageing of skin, such as wrinkles and reduction in elasticity
- Skin dryness and itching
- Acne – menopausal breakouts can be quite common
- Increased skin sensitivity
- Redness associated with hot flushes
- Rosacea – a condition that can cause face flushing, spots and skin tightness
- Facial hair (hirsutism)
- Hair thinning and changes in hair texture
- Changes to the skin around the genital area
- Haxthausen disease – a scaly thickening of the skin on the hands and feet
- A possible improvement in psoriasis, if you have suffered from it previously
Start your free online menopause assessment to see if HRT is right for you
HOW COMMON ARE SKIN CHANGES IN MENOPAUSE?
- Most women notice some skin changes at menopause – the type and degree of change is unique to each woman
- One third of women experience hair thinning at the front and crown of the head
Some conditions are not related to menopause skin changes and if you notice differences in your skin appearance or texture, talk to your doctor. Read more about the stages of menopause.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE SKIN CHANGES?
1. Look after your lifestyle. An intentional, healthy lifestyle is always a good idea to improve health now and in later life. Try to exercise daily, focus on good nutrition, keep well hydrated, cut down on alcohol and avoid smoking. Get inspired with our menopause-friendly recipes.
2. Manage hot flushes and night sweats. Wet skin and rapid temperature changes can trigger itchy episodes once the hot flush or sweat has passed. Download Stella for a personalised plan to reduce these bothersome symptoms.
3. Skincare routine. Avoid soap and harsh facial cleansers. Use a regular facial moisturiser to help your skin stay hydrated – hyaluronic acid and ceramides are key ingredients to look out for. Talk to your pharmacist about heavier body moisturisers that may help too.
WOULD HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) HELP?
Yes. Use of oestrogens has been shown to reduce the skin changes associated with menopause, including the decreased levels of collagen and glycoaminoglycans.
However, HRT is not used purely to reduce the signs of ageing as it comes with risks and is not suitable for everyone. HRT is usually prescribed to help improve sleep, mood and hot flushes during menopause. Read more about the HRT debate.
HOW TO CARE FOR DRY SKIN IN MENOPAUSE
Dry skin can feel incredibly itchy so take care when scratching as your skin is thinner and prone to tear. Try to pat or rub the area through your clothes instead of scratching. If you need to scratch, keep your nails short to minimise damage.
Overhaul your routine
Avoid perfumed bath products that may irritate your skin and use skin-kind detergents. Go for shorter, tepid showers rather than long, hot baths to prevent your skin drying out further. Some people find applying a body moisturiser straight after a shower can help the skind feel moisturised for longer.
Turn down the heating
In colder months, take care with the central heating and fires as this can dry your skin.
Keep it natural
Wear natural fibres that allow your skin to breath rather than manmade, which may make you sweat and feel itchy.
If your skin is unbearable, your doctor may be able to suggest treatments. If hair is thinning, your doctor may do tests to rule out an easily treatable cause like iron deficiency anaemia or thyroid disease. Avoiding heat treatments, extensions and harsh chemicals to slow hair loss.
If you have any persistent rashes – blotches, bumps, scaly areas or persistent red patches – see your doctor as they may be able to prescribe an effective treatment depending on the cause.
MENOPAUSE AND SKIN
The ‘female’ hormone oestrogen has many functions throughout the body, including in the skin.
The high levels of oestrogen seen in younger women help to keep the skin healthy and plump by stimulating the production of collagen, glycosaminoglycans and natural oils. These help the skin to remain supple and hydrated.
When it comes to menopause and skin, your body begins to produce much less oestrogen and you see the effects. Menopause also changes the way your circulation supplies the skin – reduced blood flow and flushing become more common. Hair thinning may be caused by the decrease in another ‘female’ hormone, progesterone.
See a doctor if you have:
- A rash all over your body or which is spreading rapidly
- A rash with a fever, which feels hot to the touch or which is leaking pus
- A rash that is persistent
- Ulcers, scabs or non-healing spots anywhere on your body
- Any moles which have changed or look unusual
- Are concerned for any other reason
Some of my itching is due to an autoimmune skin condition, Lichen Sclerosus. It’s a condition that can occur before or at menopause and is manageable”
- Watson S, 2020, Can Menopause Cause a Rash?, Healthline
- Ngan V, 2002, Menopause and the skin, Dermnet NZ
- Deschamps P, Leroy D, Pedailles S, Mandard JC. Keratoderma climactericum (Haxthausen’s disease): clinical signs, laboratory findings and etretinate treatment in 10 patients. Dermatologica. 1986;172(5):258-62
- Ceovic R, Mance M, Mokos ZB, Svetec M, Kostovic K, Buzina DS, Psoriasis: Female Skin Changes in Various Hormonal Stages throughout Life—Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause, BioMed Research International, vol. 2013, Article ID 571912, 6 pages, 2013.
- Fries WC, 2010, Menopause and Dry Skin: The Hormone Connection, WebMD
- Duarte GV, Trigo AC, Paim de Oliveira Mde F, Skin disorders during menopause, Cutis, 2016 Feb;97(2):E16-23.
- Raine-Fenning NJ, Brincat MP & Muscat-Baron Y, Skin Aging and Menopause. Am J Clin Dermatol 4, 371–378 (2003).
- Bensaleh H, Belgnaoui FZ, Douira L, et al, Skin and menopause, Annales D’endocrinologie. 2006 Dec;67(6):575-580.
- Cappelloni L, 2019, Menopause Hair Loss Prevention, Medline
- NHS, 2019, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)