How menopause impacts the skin, as 42% of women get distressed over changes

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Women going through menopause are 'distressed' by the changes their skin goes through. (Getty Images)

While society is becoming more aware of the huge changes that women’s bodies go through during menopause, one thing that many women feel unprepared for is how their skin is impacted during this period, new research has found.

According to a survey by Hada Labo Tokyo, Japan’s top skincare brand, nearly half (42%) of women say that changes to their skin has been the “most distressing symptom” they have experienced while going through menopause.

An even higher proportion (69%) of women said that no medical professional has ever warned them about how the menopause would impact their skin. Two-thirds of respondents said they have no idea why their skin changes as a result of menopause.

The survey also revealed that most women (61%) who have entered menopause say they wish they paid more attention to their skincare regime earlier in their life.

Dr Catherine Hood, women’s health expert and member of the Hada Labo Tokyo Skin Care Panel, tells Yahoo UK that the drop in oestrogen that women experience when they enter perimenopause - which occurs before menopause - is largely responsible for changes in the skin.

While oestrogen levels fluctuate according to menstrual cycles and life stages, they tend to drop dramatically as menopause draws near. The decline in this hormone has been linked to many well-known symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and moodiness.

How does menopause impact the skin?

The skin is the body’s largest organ, so changes that occur during any period of life are very apparent. Dr Hood explains that people should look after it more than we currently do.

"Menopause brings with it a host of changes, and this includes changes to the skin. During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries produce less oestrogen, the hormone that helps to maintain the skin’s plumpness and moisture.

"So when levels start to reduce it means our skin can dry out and look thinner. Lack of oestrogen can also lead to reduced collagen production."

During menopause, some changes you might see in your skin include:

  • Dryness

  • Thinner skin, leading to wrinkles and fine lines

  • Dullness

  • Skin pigmentation

  • Sagging

  • Age spots

  • Acne breakouts

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Women should be better informed about how menopause can affect their skin, to ensure they keep up their confidence. (Getty Images)

Dr Hood also emphasised the importance of women getting the information they need about how their bodies will change during menopause.

She says: "It’s important that women are warned of the potential skin changes that could occur to their skin as they transition through menopause as these changes can cause a huge drop in a woman’s confidence. It’s good to know what may happen ahead of time so the relevant steps can be taken to try and counteract the impact of menopause."

Can you mitigate the effects of menopause on skin?

The menopause is unavoidable, but you can start changing your skincare routine ahead of time to help manage its impact. In fact, Dr Hood says, it’s “essential” to start counteracting skin changes ahead of menopause.

"Even if you haven’t implemented a skincare routine in previous years, you can still show your skin plenty of love by ensuring you use hydrating products packed with hyaluronic acid (HA) which busts dry skin that is all too often faced by menopausal women, leading to lines, wrinkles and dull skin," she says.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance the body makes to keep your joints supple and your skin flexible, reducing wrinkles and lines. A third of it is found in the skin, but levels of hyaluronic acid produced naturally begin to fall after the age of 40.

"By the age of 50, levels have fallen by about half," Dr Hood says. "Evidence shows that when applied to the skin hyaluronic acid can help to reduce wrinkles, enhance hydration and improve firmness and elasticity.

"Research has shown that just 1 gram of hyaluronic acid can absorb 6 litres of water. But according to the Hada Labo Tokyo research only 38% of women know of the importance of hyaluronic acid for the skin."

The body’s ability to produce collagen is also affected during menopause. Previous studies show that, while collagen levels start to drop around the age of 25, they only drop at a rate of about 1% per year.

However, during menopause, collagen levels drop much more dramatically at a rate of around 30% to 50%. Collagen helps give the skin elasticity and bounce, and is also important for bones, joints and muscles.

"Collagen is essential to keep the skin firm," Dr Hood says. "A correct skincare routine can bolster the skin from this age but also needs to be put in place much earlier, with research from Hada Labo Tokyo indicating that 61% of women wishing they had done this."

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