If you're going through menopause or expecting to in the next few years, you may be experiencing dry, itchy, or flushed skin.  But why does it happen? And how can you ease these symptoms? Here, answers to common questions surrounding menopause and your skin.

Why is my skin so dry?

When menopause approaches, your body slows down estrogen production. Since estrogen stimulates collagen and oil production and your hormonal ratio is changed, your skin doesn't retain water, leaving you with skin that feels itchy, dry, and more wrinkled.

What can I do to keep my skin from drying out?

Healthy skin habits are the best ways to retain as much moisture as you can. Drinking water, eating foods that contain fatty acids like omega-3s, and avoiding cleaning agents that are harsh on your skin will help it retain moisture. And most importantly, always use sunscreen.

Can Hormone Replacement Therapy help?

Since dry skin can be attributed to lower levels of estrogen, it's logical to think that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) would be effective in re-energizing skin. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which explored if low-dose HRT could improve aging skin in post-menopausal women, it did not have much of an effect. However, another study that looked at women who started taking HRT at the onset of menopause showed that it did have improving effects on skin moisture. But since there are so many side-effects from HRT (including a higher risk of breast cancer) you should be sure to weigh the pros and cons with your doctor.

Should I try topical estrogen?

Following the same logic, scientists have been exploring if applying topical estrogen to damaged skin can have rejuvenating effects. So far, the results are inconclusive. You'd likely have as much success with topical lotions that have anti-aging properties, such as Retinol A.

My skin is getting flushed and red. Is that because of menopause?

Facial flushing-or a vasomotor flush-typically accompanies a hot flash and feels like an intense red burning sensation that heats up the chest, neck, and face. These are caused by a loss of estrogen, which helps regulate your body heat.

Is there anything I can do about facial flushing?

Flushing is treated the same way as hot flashes. HRT containing estrogen or progesterone can be effective, as can some blood pressure medications. Some natural studies indicate that soy products can also help. Again, discuss the benefits and risk of any replacement therapy with your doctor.





American Academy of Dermatology


Abstract entitled "Skin aging and menopause : implications for treatment." Conducted by Academic Division of Reproductive Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.