Menopause often comes with a plethora of symptoms, including skin changes like hot flashes, dryness, itching, rashes, and acne.
Menopausal acne develops in women for mostly the same reasons that teenage acne does. Any change or imbalance in hormonal levels affects our skin’s natural defences, triggering acne, and there is no bigger time of hormonal change in a woman’s life than at menopause.
It seems unfair to have to undergo most or all of the manifestations of menopause while still fighting blackheads and spots, but there we have it. You are not alone.
Causes Of Menopausal Acne
Different factors trigger menopausal acne, but hormonal imbalance stands as the principal culprit. Menopausal acne is also called hormonal acne because of the way the skin problem develops in response to hormonal changes.
During menopause, there’s a reduction in skin elasticity due to low collagen production, which leads to thinner and drier skin. There is also a relative increase in androgens, such as testosterone, as oestrogen levels begin to drop. The rise in androgen levels can trigger a process of higher sebum production (an oily substance that blocks pores) and changes in skin cell activity.
Consequently, this dry, hypersensitive skin is prone to inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, due to the colonisation of the hair follicles by bacteria. The body’s immune system also causes a buildup of white blood cells in the infected area, resulting in a swollen or reddened pimple.
Genetics, stress, dietary changes, lack of sleep and exercise, and other lifestyle changes may also be implicated as trigger factors of menopausal acne.
You may be tempted to reach for acne products designed for teens, but it is important to note that your skin may not tolerate these harsh treatments as well as it might have in your younger years. While there is no single cure for acne, there are some effective treatment options:
● Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormonal therapy is the most effective treatment for menopausal acne since it focuses on correcting the hormone imbalance, mainly that between androgens and oestrogens in your body. It also helps ease some symptoms of menopause, with some women testifying about better complexions.
There are different types of hormone therapy, and each one is specific to the hormone(s) deficient. They may come as pills, patches, or topical creams.
Although hormone replacement therapy is effective, it presents serious risks for women with a history of breast or endometrial cancer, coronary heart disease, liver disease, stroke, or active pregnancy. You are advised to consult your doctor to help suggest choices based on your medical history and inform you about the risks involved.
● Oral medications
Oral medications can be effective in treating menopausal acne, especially for controlling severe breakouts. Androgen blockers like spironolactone can help with balancing out the excess androgens. Other prescription antibiotics like Benzamycin also work.
Doctors have reservations about prescribing some severe acne medication for long-term use as the bacteria may become resistant to the drug, rendering it useless.
● Topical treatments
Retinoids: are derivatives of Vitamin A that can tackle both acne and ageing concerns. They come in either topical gels or creams that are available by prescription. They can also be used along with benzoyl peroxide and anti-microbial creams.
Vitamin C: Skincare products containing Vitamin C help boost collagen production, brighten skin, and reduce the redness caused by acne.
Maintaining a good self-care regimen is essential for women experiencing the dual problems of delicate skin and breakouts during menopause.
● Wash your face daily with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. This helps to unclog pores.
● Apply sunscreen daily to give your skin the protection it needs. We recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. This is especially important, as retinoid treatment makes the skin extra-sensitive to UV rays.
● Replace oil-based cosmetics with mineral or water-based ones.
● Do not pick or try to pop the pimple, as this might worsen the condition and cause scarring.
● Since menopausal acne can be a result of lifestyle changes, it is important to watch what you eat. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake as well.
Hormonal changes can trigger menopausal acne in perimenopausal women. It can also be a result of stress and lifestyle changes. Although it may seem inevitable and untreatable, there are many effective solutions to tend to and manage menopausal acne.
If you have menopausal acne, which doesn’t improve after a few weeks, please make an appointment with your dermatologist.