July 2022

Dr Anjali Mahto tells us all about menopausal skin and what we can do to reduce the impact.

Our skin changes with age due to falling oestrogen levels. Certainly until recent years, the topic of menopause in general was glaringly absent from mainstream discussion. I am pleased to see this is changing and more open conversation is being had about changes in skin, hair, mood and nutrition. The average age of menopause in the UK is 51, and this has remained stable over many years. However, as we live longer, in countries such as the UK, an average woman will spend one-third of her life in menopause - that is a huge part of one’s life.⁣

So how does menopause impact the skin?⁣

Well, firstly - collagen (the main protein which gives our skin its support and structure) levels in the skin fall by about 2.1% per year after the menopause. In the first 5 years after menopause, 30% of dermal collagen has been lost. The skin itself becomes thinner, wound healing is delayed and immune surveillance function of the skin is reduced. The skin becomes more vulnerable to both benign (harmless) and potentially cancerous growths.⁣

Falling oestrogen levels have a significant impact on menopausal skin. Oestrogens are essential for skin function and play a number of roles:⁣

1. They increase production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) or “ground substance” of the skin such as hyaluronic acid⁣
2. They increase sebum or oil production⁣
3. They increase water retention in the skin⁣
4. They improve the barrier function of the upper skin layer or stratum corneum⁣
Reduced oestrogen levels will impact all of these. Receptors for oestrogen in the skin are most abundant in body sites such as the face, genitalia, and lower limbs and therefore dryness in these areas are common.⁣

So what can you do?⁣

1. Ensure you are adding extra moisture to the skin where needed; use fragrance-free body washes and moisturisers daily⁣
2. Use regular sunscreen to help prevent collagen loss due to UV radiation from the sun, and a topical retinoid product at night to boost skin cell turnover and collagen production in the skin⁣
3. Make sure you get any non-healing spots or sores, new or changing moles, or any other growths on the skin reviewed by your GP or a dermatologist; if you have had a lot of sun exposure or enjoyed outdoor hobbies over the years then consider an annual skin check to pick up any potential issues early.⁣
4. If you are concerned about redness or changes in skin quality or texture then consider non-invasive options such chemical peels or lasers.⁣

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist 

Find Dr Mahto on Instagram here.

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