Every woman in menopause knows about the infamous hot flushes. Most are familiar with night sweats. But dry skin at menopause, too? Why does that happen?
What's Happening: Dry Skin and Menopause
Somewhere between the ages of 40 and 58, most women enter menopause. Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and is confirmed when you have not had a period for 12 months. In general, the term can describe any of the changes you go through just before or after you stop having your period, marking the end of your reproductive years. This change happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, periods come to an end, and oestrogen production begins to decline.
This reduction of oestrogen, and the changing ratios of hormones in your body don't just slow down your body's oil production. They also reduce your body's ability to retain moisture. This transition happens due to changes in ovarian follicular activity, leading to endocrine, biological and clinical modifications. The main hormones related to these changes and symptoms are oestradiol, LH, FSH, AMH, Inhibin B and GnRH. It is important to point out that the skin is significantly affected by all these hormone changes, leading to decreased collagen content, water content, elasticity, thickness, and impacting all skin layers quality. That's why, as menopause approaches and oestrogen production diminishes, dry, itchy skin becomes very common.
While a parched t-zone or flaky elbows may be the first places you notice the changes, dry and itchy skin appears just about anywhere, from the oil-gland-dense face, back, and chest to elbows, legs, genitals -- even nails.
At Midlife, women experience fluctuating hormone levels, but these are not the only triggers to changes. Cumulative dietary and lifestyle factors can also play a significant part. Pregnancy and breastfeeding and nutritional imbalances resulting from years of dieting, poor eating habits, or malabsorption often leave us in a nutritionally depleted state as we reach Midlife. We recommend starting to correct these deficiencies by taking a good multivitamin such as Fema 45+, in the UK, or Gynovite, in the US, as well as adding phytoestrogens, such as soy to your diet.
The changes to your skin can start as early as perimenopause but don’t worry. There are many steps that you can take to help yourself to have better skin.
Many women start to notice their skin becoming drier around the time of menopause. You may also see an increase in wrinkles. Both are due to the effect of lowered oestrogen levels on collagen, the structural protein in skin that keeps it firm and elastic. Research shows that keeping your skin well hydrated and eating plenty of foods rich in phytoestrogens can counteract dryness and even reduce the depth of wrinkles significantly.
Changes to your diet and lifestyle to treat dry skin
By following these suggestions, you will see a significant improvement in your skin over time. It doesn’t happen overnight, but in a couple of months, you will be benefitting from the changes you have made.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Look for plant-based products with no artificial chemicals. There are many lovely brands from which to choose. Dr Hauschka is one of the natural ranges that you can find easily.
- Protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays by applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 — particularly on your face, neck, and hands.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to hydrate skin from the inside out.
- Regularly exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells and help your moisturizer penetrate the skin more readily.
- Eat plenty of oily fish rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as salmon and sardines. These healthy fats help keep skin soft and smooth.
- Consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
- Consume foods containing isoflavones, such as soya milk or edamame beans which have been shown to significantly reduce the depths of wrinkles.
For more information on improving your skin click here to watch Maryon’s video on the subject.
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