During menopause, sex hormone levels fluctuate greatly and eventually decline. These fluctuations can affect the many responsibilities that the hormone estrogen has in regulating the body's functions, which includes everything from controlling the taste buds to regulating body temperature.
Estrogen also plays a role when it comes to healthy skin. Estrogen helps keep skin moisturized, limits the formation of wrinkles, and prevent collagen levels from declining. Collagen is the main protein in skin, and it keeps skin flexible, provides structure and elasticity, and prevents invaders from permeating and spreading throughout the skin.
Understanding Dry Skin
Skin may dry out suddenly during menopause. Here are some facts to shed some light on it.
Dry skin could be caused at least partly by genetics
Genetics determine whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin. However, how the skin ages usually depends on how it's treated and other environmental factors.
Sun exposure can dry out and age skin
Dry heat, blustery winds, and harsh sun rays can all make your skin drier than usual and itchy. If you face these conditions frequently, it's best to stock up on a good moisturizer. It is also a good idea to get into the habit of using at least an SPF 15 moisturizer daily, no matter what the weather conditions are, in order to protect your skin.
Mother nature isn't the only culprit
It's well-documented that smoking and using other tobacco products can dry out and prematurely age skin. However, alcohol consumption can also dry out skin, and the sugar and salt often found in alcoholic beverages and other unhealthy foods can lead to skin that is inflamed and bloated. Swimming frequently in chlorinated water can dry out skin, as can wearing tight or ill-fitting clothing that chaps and agitates skin.
Water can, paradoxically, dry out skin
Bathing can remove natural oils from the body, which can leave skin feeling tight and dried out. Some bath soaps also contain compounds that remove natural oils and dry out and agitate skin. It is not necessary to bathe every day, especially as you age and your skin becomes naturally drier. It's a good idea to use a quality moisturizer or lotion after you shower.
Drinking more water won't restore your skin
Although drinking enough water is good for your overall health, this is not a beauty secret to more supple skin. To the contrary, the water that you ingest goes through several different body systems before it reaches your skin.
Take care when you fly
Flying can give you a double dose of harsh atmospheric conditions due to radiation from the sun at higher altitudes with less cloud protection. Before embarking on a flight, make sure to put on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, especially if you're in a window seat.
Recommendations for Dry Skin during Menopause
It's important to use a lotion or moisturizer on your body on a regular basis. Look for a hydrating skin lotion or cream with cholesterol. This is the secret ingredient that helps restore moisture to the skin. Don't worry; it won't ruin your lipid profile. Click on the following link to learn more about treatments for dry, itchy skin and other menopause symptoms.
- Levin, J. & Miller, R. (2011). A Guide to the Ingredients and Potential Benefits of Over-the-Counter Cleansers and Moisturizers for Rosacea Patients. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 4(8), 31-49. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168246/
- National Institutes of Health. (2015). Dry skin - self-care. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000751.htm
- Shah M.G., Maibach H.I. (2001). Estrogen and Skin. An overview [Abstract]. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2(3), 143-50.