Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings are just a few of the most well-known symptoms associated with menopause, which is why many women are surprised and confused when their skin becomes increasingly more dry as they age. You may ask, why do I have dry skin, and how is it associated with menopausal changes?
The answer to this question is hormones and estrogen. Though most people associate estrogen with the female reproductive system, this hormone is also partly responsible for women’s skin health.
Dry skin and its relation to menopause
During menopause, your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods become irregular, and will eventually cease completely as a result of decline in estrogen. In regards to skin care, estrogen is crucial to the formation of collagen and oils, which your body naturally produces as long as you are able to maintain healthy estrogen levels. However, when your estrogen levels begin to decline, your body slows down its natural oil production, your skin can lose its natural moisture and elasticity, and you may notice that your skin becomes dry and itchy.
According to Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, the first areas you’ll notice being affected by menopause are your elbows and t-zone region on your face. As time goes by, you may notice that dry skin problems expand from your face and elbows to your back, chest, legs, genitals, and even your nails. Tanzi also reveals that problems with dry, itchy skin can start as early as perimenopause, and last indefinitely for the rest of your life. However, there are steps you can take to combat dry and itchy skin regardless of where you are in menopause.
Boost your intake of essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids, including the omega-3s found in foods such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, walnuts, and avocados, can help keep your skin hydrated and stimulate your skin’s natural oil barrier. Lack of essential fatty acids can increase your risk for acne breakouts and worsen the health of skin that is already dry and itchy. Make a conscious effort to boost your intake of omega-3s, and speak to your health care provider about supplements you can take if you’re unable to get the amount of nutrients you need through diet alone.
Wear sunscreen every day
According to Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, sunscreen that contains an SPF of 15 or higher can help prevent further wrinkling, moles, and dryness, and can even help lower your risk for skin cancer. Make sure that the sunscreen you use protects against UVA and UVB rays, and apply sunscreen every day — including on those that are cloudy and overcast. Alternately, you can wear makeup products that contain sunscreen.
Take cooler showers
Hot baths and showers may feel great in chilly weather conditions, but high temperatures can be harsh on your skin and cause it to dry out at a faster rate. Focus on taking quicker showers going forward, and use cool or warm water to prevent your skin from losing its natural moisture. Additionally, avoid using harsh antibacterial soaps that tend to dry out skin, and use gentle soaps that contain moisturizer.
Apply moisturizer after bathing
Within a few minutes of showering, apply moisturizer to your face and body to help trap in moisture. Cambio suggests using moisturizer that contains green tea and vitamin C, which are antioxidants that can improve dry, itchy skin. Cambio says skin care products that contain hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and lactic acid are also ideal for treating menopausal dry skin.
Have you been experiencing skin care problems associated with menopause? Request a consultation with Monarch Skin Rejuvenation Center, or call us today at (913) 663-3838 for our Leawood and Lansing offices, or at (816) 436-3262 for our North Kansas City location to learn more about your options for achieving beautiful skin.