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Mature woman with dark, curly hair, brown eyes and freckles wearing a tank top in a yoga studio with wood floors and tall windows in the background.
Mature woman with dark, curly hair, brown eyes and freckles wearing a tank top in a yoga studio with wood floors and tall windows in the background.

Menopause and Your Skin

The Hormonal Changes Affect Your Skin

Skin changes are a common occurrence during menopause. The most frequent skin-related concern reported during menopause is skin dryness. Many also notice that their skin becomes thinner, more wrinkled and less voluminous, which can lead to easy bruising.

“There is a decrease in both collagen and elastin in the skin,” says Julia Marie Mhlaba, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine. “This happens rapidly at the beginning of menopause and the rate slows with time. The reduction in collagen and elastin can lead to skin thinning, wrinkling, and sagging.” 

Know What Menopause Is
Menopause is a natural process typically marked by not having menstrual periods for 12 months in a row. This typically happens between the ages of 45 to 55, and on average at age 51. Body changes from menopause include:

  • Skin conditions
  • Reduced function of the ovaries
  • Lower estrogen levels
  • Natural end to fertility

“Each person’s experience of menopause is unique,” says Jessica W. Kiley, MD, medical director of Women’s Health at Northwestern Memorial and vice chair of Clinical Operations at Northwestern Medicine. “Some individuals feel no physical changes or symptoms. Others may experience hot flashes, mood changes, weight gain, dryness in the vagina, urinary symptoms, or issues with sleep or memory. Some people feel these symptoms very mildly, and others are more significantly affected.” 

Menopause often lasts four to seven years but this can be different for each person. Symptoms may resolve after a couple of years or they might continue longer. 

Menopause and Your Biggest Organ
Skin is your largest organ so it’s no surprise that changes related to menopause affect it. Even before menopause starts, you may notice changes. Perimenopause is the period of time before menopause, and it can last several years. During this time, you may notice drier and less bouncy skin, as well as acne.

During menopause, decreased levels of estrogen can change your skin in several ways:

  • Impair of your skin barrier function
  • Reduce sebum production
  • Slow wound healing

The skin on your scalp is also affected by menopause; your hair may become drier and thinner, and you may lose hair too. 

Addressing Skin Changes
There is no prevention method for skin changes that result from menopause. However, there are ways you can address some changes.

To treat dark spots that can develop or darken during menopause, Dr. Mhlaba suggests applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen before going outdoors and re-applying it during the day. Using sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothes and hats, and staying out of the sun can help prevent skin volume loss and fine lines.

To treat dry skin, daily moisturization is essential. Avoid personal care products with fragrances as fragrances can irritate the skin and lead to more dryness. You can also use a topical retinol product to promote collagen production, which can help your skin look fuller and bouncier. 

To treat menopausal hair loss, options include lifestyle changes, as well as topical and oral medications. A dermatologist can discuss treatment options with you to help manage hair loss on your scalp. 

Talk with your primary care clinician about your menopausal symptoms, they can help you determine what is best for you.