Skin symptoms you might experience during the menopause
- Why does the menopause affect the skin?
- Which skin symptoms can be caused by the menopause?
- Heat and redness
- Dry skin
- Signs of ageing
- Worsening of existing skin conditions
- Genital dryness and infections
- What’s the best way to treat menopausal skin symptoms?
- What treatments for menopausal skin can I get from my GP?
Reviewed by our clinical team
The menopause is a natural part of the ageing process for women, but – as we all know – the symptoms can be challenging. Most women experience symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes but some also notice a difference in their skin.
Why does the menopause affect the skin?
As we age, our skin changes. This is largely because of falling levels of collagen, the protein that gives structure to the skin, and helps with wound healing and muscle repair. After the age of 20, we gradually start to lose collagen, which results in a loss of softness, plumpness and elasticity over time.
For menopausal women, the loss of collagen is sped up by falling oestrogen levels. Some studies have shown that collagen reduces by up to 30% in the first five years after the menopause.
Collagen aside, falling oestrogen levels can cause the skin barrier to become dehydrated, making it drier and itchier.
Which skin symptoms can be caused by the menopause?
Heat and redness
Hot flushes are a common symptom for women going through the menopause. They cause widespread heat throughout the body, sweating and redness in the face. The good news is, while they can be very uncomfortable, they tend to only last a few minutes.
While you may experience hot flushes for several years after you have your last period, they won’t be a permanent symptom.
For lots of women, dry skin is a problem after the menopause – particularly on your hands and scalp.
Signs of ageing
Wrinkles and sagging are a normal part of getting older, but you might notice that these classics signs of ageing are accelerated by going through the menopause. In addition to falling levels of collagen, sagging on the face can be caused by a loss of bone density in the jaw and chin.
Although we tend to associate it with teenagers, acne can be a side effect of the menopause due to changing hormone levels.
For menopausal women, the treatment of acne may be more challenging than for younger women, due to the skin being thinner and drier. However, there are still some good prescription options, including azelaic acid, which is suited to sensitive skin. Find out more about acne treatments for sensitive skin.
Worsening of existing skin conditions
If you have a skin condition like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis, you might notice that it gets worse during the menopause.
Genital dryness and infections
During and after the menopause, many women experience vaginal dryness, pain during sex and an increase in thrush, bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. This is because falling oestrogen levels make the skin on the genitals more thin, dry and vulnerable to infection.
What’s the best way to treat menopausal skin symptoms?
If your symptoms are mild, you might be able to treat them by switching up your skincare routine.
For dry and irritated skin, switch to cleansers and emollients that are gentler and more moisturising on the skin. Try to avoid soaps and strong fragrances, and don’t spend too long in the shower or bath as hot water can be very drying.
For vaginal soreness and dryness, you can try using lubricants, moisturisers and over-the-counter creams and gels like Vagisil.
For facial ageing, you can try treatments like retinol, which is said to help with skin cell turnover. You can also help slow down the ageing of your skin by wearing sunscreen.
If you’re having more severe skin symptoms, it’s worth speaking to your GP as you might need prescription treatment or a referral to a dermatologist.
What treatments for menopausal skin can I get from my GP?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a good prescription option for women experiencing difficult symptoms as a result of the menopause.
HRT can treat most of the common symptoms of the menopause, including hot flushes and vaginal dryness. If vaginal dryness is your main concern, you can use a type of localised HRT like a vaginal cream or pessary.
Other prescription treatment options for menopausal skin include:
- Topical treatments and antibiotic tablets for acne
- Medicated creams and ointments for eczema and psoriasis
Whatever your needs, it’s always a good idea to speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms.
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