The menopause is a complicated life stage that all women go through as they reach middle age. For some, symptoms appear to be a mere end to the monthly cycle. For others, it is a difficult process that can last for a few years and cause a variety of changes including, but not limited to changes to the skin.
In this article, we are dealing specifically with menopausal changes in the skin.
During the perimenopause, hormone levels change and decline. The ovaries slowly stop producing estrogen while the adrenal glands continue to produce testosterone. Therefore the hormonal balance becomes disrupted leading to changes in the skin including acne, facial hair, wrinkles and age spots.
The decline of estrogens during menopause is one of the culprits in the accelerated aging of the skin including sagging and wrinkles. This is because estrogen stimulates fat deposits over the female body and the face. As estrogen levels lower, the supportive fat in the face is lost.
Protein synthesis, particularly that of collagen and elastin are partly controlled by estrogens and therefore during menopause the levels of collagen produced and the repair mechanisms in the skin are reduced. This is particularly pronounced if the skin is exposed to UV rays.
The epidermis becomes thinner during menopause. The growth and maintenance of blood capillaries in the dermis are partially under the control of the estrogens. So blood flow through the dermal capillaries which delivers less oxygen and nutrients to the lower layers of the epidermis. This contributes to the thinning of the epidermis and a slower cell turnover rate. This is accompanied by a reduction in the barrier function of the skin, which may lead to dry skin and fine lines.
The maintenance of Melanocytes (cells that manufacture the pigment Melanin) is under the control of estrogens. During menopause, the number of melanocytes in the skin is reduced which can result in more sun damage.
Estrogens also regulate melanin production. i.e, keep it under control. In areas of the skin that have been exposed to UV rays over the years, as menopause arrives, melanin production increases (due to lack of regulation by estrogen). This can result in brown “age spots” appearing on the face, hands, neck, arms and chest of many women.
If you would like to discus menopausal changes to the skin with us then please call us on 01962 809937 and ask for a consultation with Dr Victoria