FIFTIES – SKIN & THE MENOPAUSE
The menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. It follows the perimenopause stage and is when menstrual periods stop and fertility ends. Menopause symptoms include hot flushes, insomnia, and weight gain, loss of sex drive, mood swings, depression and changes
to the appearance of the skin. A rather irritating symptom is also unwanted facial hair. Some women often find hairs appearing on their chin or Jaw line, which is caused by a drop in oestrogen and rise in testosterone levels. It is also during this time that women may opt for treatment to relieve some of the many symptoms of the menopause such as BHRT (Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy).
“Bio-identical hormones are exactly similar in molecular structure (i.e, identical) to the hormones that your ovaries and adrenal glands secrete into your bloodstream. They are produced in the laboratory from plants, usually yam or soya” – Dr Yehudi Gordon (Consultant Gynaecologist)
WHAT ARE TYPICAL MENOPAUSE SKIN CHANGES?
- Change in fat deposits
Oestrogen deficiency during menopause causes a change in body composition with an increase in abdominal fat. This contributes to metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of cardiac disease and diabetes. Facial fat becomes thinner resulting in loss of volume.
Wrinkles will become more prominent as your skin begins to sag and lose its elasticity.
- Hyperpigmentation/ Age Spots
Melanocytes, which are the cells that manufacture the pigment melanin, are also controlled by oestrogens. As menopause kicks in, melanocytes levels decline. As melanin decreases, areas of the skin become lighter and therefore more susceptible to sun damage.
- Sun Damage
Years of sun exposure can results in solar lentigines. These brown ‘age spots’ may start to appear on the face, neck, hands, arms and chest. Age spots can look flat with a black, brown or even grey colour. However, often at times these age spots may have a similar appearance to some skin cancers. Therefore, as a precaution, if your client is concerned with very dark spots or spots that one that looks blotchy or are increasing in size, it is best to advise them to visit their GP.
- Dry Skin
Dry skin happens as your skin ages because it fails to produce natural oils partly due to a decrease in hormone production. Seasonal changes also affect menopause skin changes. However on the contrary, some women may experience oily skin with the decline in oestrogen.
USEFUL TIPS FOR COPING WITH THE MENOPAUSE
- Use SPF cream wiih antioxidants – a winning combination for menopausal skin changes.
- Eliminate scrubs, harsh cleansers and facial brushes which strip the skin of natural oils and disrupt the stratum corneum promoting transepidermal water loss.
- Use a hydrating oil based cleanser that removes environmental pollutants from the skin whilst maintaining the natural acid balance of the skin.
- Introduce key active ingredients such as vitamin A and C orally and topically, along with antioxidants to protect the skin against the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamin A thickens the skin, whilst stimulating natural moisturising factors, Vitamin C will support collagen production and help generate healthy skin cells.
- Introduce a good quality omega 3 and 6 supplement to compensate for the decline in oils and nutrients.
- Supplement with bio-identical hormones which will reduce or eliminate the symptoms of the menopause. Combined with lifestyle and dietary changes this can mean staying vital, strong and healthy (physically and mentally) as we go through the menopause and beyond.
Next in the series: Five Steps to Hormonal Happiness
Source: IIA Bulletin March 2018