As we know menopause can bring with it many issues such as hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, weight gain and other common symptoms. Unfortunately, acne, the bane of teenage years for some, can raise its head again during menopause.
Diet, bacteria and genetics are all factors which affect the skin of women experiencing menopause acne.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, women in menopause are most likely to spot acne blemishes near the chin, jaw, mouth and neck, which is a move away from the T Zone experienced in teenage years. Breakouts can also occur on the chest and back.
What Causes Adult-Onset Acne?
Whether you are 16 or 50 acne breakouts have the same root cause – changes in hormone levels.
Adult acne is caused by sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Sebum clogs pores which attracts bacteria and become inflamed. For some adults breakouts are as a result of hypersensitivity or overproduction of androgens, the male hormone.
For women this can happen during pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause.
During perimenopause, the phase in the lead up to menopause, female hormone levels, including estrogen and in particular B-Estradiol, decline. However, androgen levels, the male sex hormones that women have as well, remain constant. This situation effectively causes the body to experience an increase in the effects of these male hormones.
Some medications such as corticosteroids and cosmetics can also contribute to the development of acne. In some cases, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Researchers have found a relationship between stress and acne flare-ups. In response to stress our bodies produce more androgens (male hormone). These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne.
There is some evidence that some women may be predisposed to acne breakouts during menopause if they suffered from it in their teens.
Self-Care for Menopause Acne
Cleansing: Clean your skin and treat it kindly. Don’t strip your skin with an astringent if your skin isn’t oily.
Know what your complexion is and find an appropriate product. If you are not sure what skin type you are, it may be worth seeking professional advice on this either at a salon or skin clinic.
Avoid very strong gels and products containing beads or granules as they are abrasive and can irritate already sensitive skin.
Wash your face twice a day with a cleanser using your hands or a very soft wash cloth. If your face is very dry, use only water the second time. Use only warm water.
Make-up: Look for water-based or mineral cosmetics to replace oily products. Take care to remove all traces of make-up when you cleanse your face.
Diet: Being older and hopefully a little wiser or maybe due to the appearance of belly fat, you are probably trying to eat healthier. If you are experiencing menopause acne, you will need to be a little more attentive to your diet. Higher fibre and calcium is required with lower fat and carbohydrates. Experts in the field state that your daily calorie intake should be made up of the following:-
- 30% carbohydrates – the majority should come from fresh fruit and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals.
- 40% from lean protein.
- 30% from healthy fats.
- Add flaxseed to your diet as this helps with menopause and acne.
Exercise: Exercise increases your circulation and gets oxygen to your tissues. Not only will you feel better, but your skin will look and feel healthier.
Water: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Unfortunately most acne medications are geared towards teenagers’ oily skin, which is not appropriate for adult drier skin, thus requiring a trial and error approach to treatment.
Creams & Lotions: Look for topical over the counter products that contain salicylic and glycolic acids to prevent discoloration and fade acne scars. To spot-treat a breakout, use a product with benzoyl peroxide, which helps kill bacteria.
Salon Treatments: There are many salon treatments available for acne including peels, masks and micro-dermabrasion.
High Tech Solutions: Laser and IPL (intense pulse light) treatments mainly target scars, however, blue light therapy treatments kill acne-causing bacteria. However, these treatments can be costly so explore the other options first.
Prescribed Medications: Your healthcare professional may deem it necessary to prescribe oral antibiotics to help fight bacteria in the skin or a prescription only topical cream. In some cases a combination of both may be the solution.
HRT: Women who take HRT often report improved complexion as one of the benefits. Supplemental estrogen provided by HRT not only helps your skin retain elasticity, it can also prevent blemishes and acne. Contrary to this, for some women, HRT can trigger an acne problem. It would, however, be extremely rare for a healthcare professional to prescribe HRT for a dermatological issue.
Menopause and your Skin. Retrieved from http://www.skintour.com/particular-interests/menopause-and-your-skin
Redman, G., M.D. Female Acne and Hormones. Retrieved from http://www.hormonehelpny.com/column/femaleacne.htm#acne