When anticipating the onset of the symptoms that are commonly associated with menopause, most women think about hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Acne is not generally thought about as a problem during this stage of life. But there are many women who notice that they have an increase in acne breakouts, similar to the teen years.
Why do some women develop acne during menopause?
In the same way that hormones bring about changes in the body chemistry during the teenage years, menopause brings about yet more changes. During the initial stage of menopause, known as perimenopause, hormones are fluctuating wildly. Decreases in the production of estrogen and other hormones cause changes in the entire body chemistry. Androgen levels (male hormones in women) do not fluctuate and this causes a stronger response to the male hormones such as testosterone.
Testosterone can cause outbreaks of acne is perimenopausal women when these levels increase and stimulate sebaceous glands in the skin to begin producing a high amount of an oily substance called sebum. In addition to this, aging skin is much slower to regenerate new cells. The result is often a buildup of old dead skin cells near the pores. When the sebum blocks pores in the skin, combined with the build up of old dead skin cells, infections result in the form of pimples and other blemishes. Menopausal acne generally makes its first appearances near the mouth, chin, around the jawline or on the back and chest areas.
Increases in stress levels can also increase acne in adults. The hormones produced by the body during stressful episodes have a similar effect as testosterone in stimulating acne outbreaks.
An occasional pimple or blemish is nothing to be concerned about, but when they begin to multiply, there are things that you can do to get help with the problem. To begin with, perimenopausal acne is usually temporary and will resolve when the body begins to adjust to the new hormone levels. In the event that the acne becomes uncomfortable or begins to cause cosmetic concerns, medical treatment is available.
One of the most popular medical treatments for adult acne is hormone therapy. Women who choose hormone replacement therapy generally experience an improvement in the complexion and overall health of their skin. Because a lack of estrogen can cause the skin to become dryer and less elastic in areas, HRT can help the skin to become smoother and softer with fewer blemishes. It should be noted that in some rarer cases, HRT has actually triggered acne in women who were otherwise not having this problem.
There are also a variety of over the counter topical treatments available to treat acne. If acne becomes an issue that is not resolved through over the counter treatments or HRT your physician can prescribe a combination of oral medications (antibiotics) and over the counter treatments which may better solve the problem.
What you can do at home?
Establishing and maintaining a regular skin care regimen can help to ward of the likelihood of developing acne at perimenopause. Daily cleansing of the skin with a gentle facial product that does not dry out the skin is recommended. In addition, use a light water based moisturizer to keep dryness at bay. Avoid squeezing pimples as aging skin is more vulnerable to damage and scarring. Avoid tanning beds and excessive amounts of direct exposure to sunlight without sunscreen protection. And finally, avoid using cosmetic products that contain heavy oils as these can clog skin pores and promote more breakouts.
Acne at the onset of menopause is an unpleasant surprise that many women will face. Although usually temporary, it can become an embarrassing problem. By maintaining a daily regimen of proper beauty skin care, women can lessen the likelihood of developing adult acne. Because it is generally brought on by changing hormone levels during menopause, it may happen regardless of your hygiene habits.
In severe or lingering cases, there are treatments available to help to clear the infections. Over the counter treatments are often helpful, but they are not effective for everyone. Medical treatment for adult acne includes hormone replacement therapy which has been effective for many women. If this is not an option, your doctor may prescribe a combination of over the counter remedies along with antibiotics. If you experience adult acne during menopause, don’t despair because there is help available for this temporary condition.