Acne & Menopause
If you're in menopause, you may be coping with hot flashes, insomnia, thinning hair and other typical symptoms. But you may also have a symptom that seems more common to teenagers than to women in their 50s and 60s: acne. However, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that acne isn't uncommon in menopause, and dermatologists offer both hormonal and non-hormonal treatments to curb it.
Women's hormones normally shift predictably throughout their monthly cycles. However, in menopause, levels of so-called female hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, fall. This can cause glands in the skin, which are sensitive to hormonal stimulation from male-type hormones such as testosterone, to produce too much of the oil that lubricates the skin. If there's too much oil present on the skin, it can clog pores and encourage bacteria to multiply.
Cosmetics manufacturers recognize a growing market for acne-fighting products designed specifically for menopausal women. According to the AAD, makers of foundations, moisturizers and other cosmetics are adding salicylic acid, a well-proven anti-acne ingredient, to their offerings. Some of these products also include anti-aging ingredients as well as acne-fighting ingredients, making them doubly useful for menopausal women battling acne breakouts.
If your menopausal acne looks bad, visit a dermatologist to determine your treatment options. Dermatologists can provide an array of prescription medications. Retinoids, for example, clear your pores and make your skin look younger by promoting collagen growth and smoothing lines and wrinkles, explains SkinCarePhysicians.com. Retin-A represents a well-known retinoid, although newer products may irritate your skin less.
If you have acne accompanied by other symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia, mood swings, thinning hair and decreased verbal ability, consider hormone replacement therapy, which can address all these symptoms, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Hormone replacement therapy provides your body with estrogen and progesterone, which can help curb the hormonal swings that drive your acne. However, the medication carries a risk of some side effects, including cardiovascular problems, and many practitioners recommend women take a very low dose and stop taking it as soon as they possibly can, explains the agency.
Curbing hormonal acne at menopause likely will take several months once you find a treatment that works for you. Since not every treatment provides relief for everyone, it's important to work closely with your dermatologist. According the American Diabetes Association, in some cases a sudden outbreak of adult acne can indicate a more serious health concern, such as type 2 diabetes, which can cause skin-related symptoms. If you have risk factors for diabetes, talk to your doctor about a screening test.
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