Your changing skin during perimenopause, menopause and midlife

So many women on our Facebook group come to us with different skin care concerns, looking for advice and solutions for everything from allergies, acne and rosacea, to sun damage, sensitive, dry, itchy, dull and tired looking complexions. Not to mention fine lines, wrinkles, bags, jowls, crepey, saggy & puffy skin.

But why does our skin change during perimenopause and menopause, and how can fluctuating hormones, lifestyle and the environment around us have an impact?

Katie speaks to women’s health specialist and GP Dr Nighat Arif, all about the medical treatments on offer, the skin care regimes and lifestyle tweaks we can all consider and who/where and when to go for help if things don’t improve.

Listen to the full conversation in The Latte Lounge podcast episode above.

What happens with our skin as we enter perimenopause?

During puberty, our skin and pores change with the fluctuating hormones and perimenopause and menopause are exactly the same.

Oestrogen levels fall, androgen levels can remain constant and you may notice symptoms reminiscent of your teenage years such as acne, as well as those associated with ageing such as wrinkles appearing overnight.

As your progesterone levels change, the quality of your skin and hair can be affected too. 

We are all affected differently by perimenopause and menopause and there’s not an awful lot of data out there but what little there is suggests that BAME women go through these changes slightly earlier. 

Other conditions such as anaemia, thyroid issues and fibroids can also affect your skin during perimenopause and menopause, so it is worth seeking advice from your GP in order to rule them out. Rosacea can also be made more visible by the occurrence of hot flushes

RELATED ARTICLE: How To Build The Perfect Menopausal Skincare Routine

Which lifestyle changes improve your skin?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but this is a piece of advice to share with your daughters. If you’re going to start a skincare routine, it should be as early as possible and include toner, cleanser and moisturiser.

As your skin is drier during midlife, you may need more moisture so try to choose a moisturiser which contains hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Cleansers containing salicylic acid will also help to prevent breakouts

Diet is another contributory factor. Dietary changes such as including flaxseed in your diet can be helpful as this is an anti-inflammatory.

Certainly at any age, we should make a conscious effort to cut out saturated fat and try to take regular exercise. 

skin menopause

What else can we do to help our skin during menopause?

HRT is not for everyone but it is very effective as diminished oestrogen means that your skin can’t regenerate as well as it used to and replacing that oestrogen restores that ability.

For those women with acne, spironolactone can be prescribed as an androgen blocker.

What about collagen drinks??

Lab-based studies suggested that varying levels of collagen could help improve skin density and elasticity but it’s very hard to find any data that suggests any real-world results and as the digestive system breaks down collagen in the gut, it doesn’t appear that enough of it would reach your skin to actually offer any benefit.

You are better advised to save your money, adjust your diet, restrict alcohol and give up things like smoking.

RELATED ARTICLE: Nutrition for your skin, hair and nails in perimenopause and menopause

skin hand cream self care

We covered vaginal atrophy in series one but for those who missed it, what would you recommend for those struggling with dryness and itching or uncomfortable sex?

More black and asian women are talking about this as the taboo lifts.

Often as oestrogen levels drop, the skin around the vagina and vulva becomes thin and causes either dryness or overproduction of fluids and difficulty with sex or smears but there are non-hormonal treatments available.

Never be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help if these are symptoms you are experiencing. We should look after that area of skin as well as we do our faces! 

For a vaginal moisturiser, use glycerin free if you are prone to thrush. Yes and Sutil Luxe or Rich are good choices.

This is different to a lubricant which is oil-based and sits on the skin rather than being absorbed into it. If you are having difficulty with sex, use both. Painful sex is not normal. 

Topical vaginal oestrogen is very safe and there are several different types available. 75-80% of women will experience vaginal atrophy so don’t wait until it becomes a big issue for you, there are some very simple solutions so ask for help when you need it.

RELATED ARTICLE: Living With Vaginal Atrophy - Jane Lewis

And finally

If you have any concerns about your changing skin in midlife, your first port of call should be to ask to see a menopause or womens health specialist at your own GP surgery and a referral if you need more specialist care.

The support you need is all available on the NHS. Look for evidence-based information in places like the Latte Lounge and join our free Facebook group where we signpost relevant and appropriate resources.

As a rule, if it appears to be good to be true, it probably is. If you have the means to see a skin specialist privately then absolutely do so, but do your research first.

Discover more: Listen to more of The Latte Lounge podcast episodes - and don't forget to subscribe / follow to be notified of future episodes!

Your changing skin during perimenopause, menopause and midlife with Dr Nighat Arif

In this episode, Katie speaks to GP Dr. Nighat Arif, who will be explaining why our skin changes as we age, looking at the medical treatments, skincare regimes and lifestyle tweaks we can all consider and who, where and when to go for help if things don't improve.

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