WHAT IS IT?
If you’ve noticed changes in your hair or skin, you are not alone. As we move through the menopause transition and beyond, our skin becomes thinner, dryer, bruises more easily, and wounds take longer to heal. Wrinkles appear, skin sags, and pores may grow larger. Over time we may develop jowls under our jaw and bags under our eyes. The tip of our nose may dip. Some women develop acne, like teenagers. Of course, not all of this is due to menopause, normal aging also plays a role.
The hair on our head also becomes thinner after menopause. Our hairline may recede. We may notice hairs sprouting on our face.
It can be tough on our self-esteem. But know that we all face the same changes as we age; some people may just show it earlier than others. Also, society is becoming much more accepting of notions of beauty that take into account how we age.
So, be proactive in taking care of your skin and hair. Celebrate your looks as they are now. Avoid comparing yourself to younger women, airbrushed models and actresses your age, or even younger you. Research on body image shows that those unrealistic comparisons lower body satisfaction and self-esteem.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MY BODY?
When estrogen levels drop, our skin loses collagen. Collagen keeps the skin firm. We lose about 30% of the collagen in our skin during the first 5 years after menopause, and then continue to lose about 2% every year. The fluctuations and ultimate decrease in hormones during perimenopause can cause acne. As our estrogen levels go down skin may have more trouble healing.
The diameter of our hairs get smaller – hence the perceived thinning. Also, our hair spends less time in the growth phase, and more in the shedding phase. So there’s less of it.
Other factors that contribute to dry skin and hair include genetics, inflammation, and environmental and lifestyle factors like sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation), stress, smoking, and pollution.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Once we enter the menopause transition and estrogen levels decline collagen is lost in the skin and the skin starts to thin. These changes continue as we get older. Hair thinning is also common.
American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/dry-skin-relief Accessed September 28, 2020.
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Authors: Dr. Leslie Snyder & Dr. Katherine Newton. Last review: April, 2021.