WHEN TO SEE A DERMATOLOGIST
For skin issues:
- If you have problematic bruising – a dermatologist may suggest retinol or laser treatment.
- Before trying an over-the-counter product for age spots – a dermatologist can make sure it’s not cancer and let you know the right product for you.
- For skin cancer screening.
- Before trying exfoliation or microdermabrasion because these techniques can damage thin skin.
- If you cannot get your acne under control.
- If you have rashes. At about age 50 skin pH level changes, and our skin becomes more sensitive.
For hair issues:
- For advice about removing unwanted facial hair, including laser hair removal.
- In the early stages of thinning hair, such as a widening part or receding hairline. There may be lots of reasons for hair loss, and the treatment should be matched to the cause. Treatments are more effective when begun early.
- Most women do not have deficits of vitamins and minerals. But, talk to your doctor if you think your hair loss may be related to getting either too much of a vitamin/mineral, or too little. Research suggests a relationship between deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals and hair loss (e.g. vitamin A, B2, biotin, C, D, iron, and Zinc). Excess amounts of some vitamins and minerals can also cause hair loss (e.g. selenium, riboflavin, vitamin A). Like Goldilocks, you need just the right amount.
COPING WITH DRY, THINNING HAIR
- Try a hair loss shampoo, which either holds moisture (making your hair look thicker) or lessens breakage. Hair loss shampoos do not prevent further hair loss or regrow hair.
- Don’t begin using over-the-counter products that contain minoxidil without seeing a dermatologist. There are many reasons for hair loss, some serious, and this may not be the right choice for you. Know that the effects go away once you stop using it.
- The jury is out on whether any supplements work. The ones that have been studied are biotin, folic acid, and a combination of omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. More research is needed to know whether any of these really work.
COPING WITH DRY SKIN
The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends:
- Select a mild soap, without a deodorant, alcohol, or fragrances.
- Use a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid or glycerin for dry skin, and with retinol or peptides to increase collagen in your skin and reduce wrinkles. If your skin is sensitive, irritated, or you have a rash, use a moisturizer without fragrances. And, more expensive doesn’t mean better.
- After bathing, apply a moisturizer. Ointments and creams work better than lotions.
- Keep baths and showers short and water temperatures moderate. Those long hot showers and baths are very drying. Pat, don’t rub, your skin dry.
- For your hands,
- Use waterproof gloves to protect your hand from long immersion in water.
- Use hand cream each time you wash your hands.
- If the air is dry, consider using a humidifier.
- Stick to soft fabrics that breathe, like 100% cotton. Wear something soft like cotton under rough fabrics.
- Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, or cover up with hat and clothing, even in winter. By protecting your skin from the sun, you may reduce age spots, prevent skin cancer, and prevent further thinning of your skin.
COPING WITH ACNE
- Wash with a cleanser that has salicylic acid to help unclog pores.
- Avoid products that dry your skin, because they can make the acne worse.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: DOES IT HELP?
YES. The pointers here may help you slow down the visible effects of menopause and aging on your hair and skin. Alas, they will not stop it or turn back the clock by a decade. Science has not yet found the fountain of youthful appearance.
DRY HAIR AND SKIN
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
The recommendations are not risky.
IF I WANT TO TRY ONE OF THE SUGGESTIONS, WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
Look over the lists, see what may work for you, and give it a try. Give skin products at least a few weeks to see a difference. Changes to your hair take months to be noticeable, because of the life-cycle of hairs. Know when to see a dermatologist, too, to avoid worse problems with your skin and hair.
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Authors: Dr. Leslie Snyder & Dr. Katherine Newton. Last reviewed April 24, 2021