Best Skin Care for Menopausal Acne
Menopause is associated with many physiological changes, including to the skin. As estrogen levels fall, the skin tends to become thinner and drier. Therefore, it may seem counterintuitive that some people experience menopausal acne. But don’t worry! We are going to talk about the best skin care for menopausal acne so you can treat this symptom the best way possible.
Acne is most often seen as something that affects adolescents. However, the condition also impacts a surprisingly high proportion of women in their 40s and 50s. This article explains why and what can be done to manage menopausal acne symptoms.
What is Menopausal Acne?
Menopausal acne is a skin condition that affects people in the years before, during and after menopause.
Some people experience acne for the first time during this period, while others see a recurrence of previous symptoms. In some cases, acne lasts from the teenage years throughout adulthood and persists until menopause and beyond.
Like other forms of acne, it can affect the face and body causing pimples, blackheads, whiteheads or painful cysts. Let’s take a look at what causes menopausal acne and how it differs from other types.
What Causes Menopausal Acne?
Menopausal acne is usually associated with hormonal changes. As people approach menopause, their estrogen levels begin to decline. This can lead to a relative excess of hormones known as androgens.
This imbalance can lead to increased sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the skin. However, when too much is produced, it can clog pores, allowing bacteria to thrive. This causes inflammation, leaving the skin red, swollen and sore.
Other hormonal imbalances can also contribute to menopausal acne, including thyroid disorders, hyperprolactinemia and insulin resistance. All of these issues become more common with age, increasing the risk of developing symptoms.
Genetics and certain lifestyle factors also make some people more likely to suffer with menopausal acne, including:
- Lack of sleep.
- Poor diet.
- Lack of exercise.
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
- Use of unsuitable cosmetics or skincare products.
People with menopausal acne should consult a physician to rule out the possibility of any underlying medical conditions. A dermatologist can offer advice on the most suitable skin care products for aging skin.
Menopausal Acne Symptoms
The symptoms of menopausal acne are slightly different from those of other types of acne. It tends to affect the whole face rather than specific areas and may also appear on the trunk. It causes inflamed lesions that may or may not come to a head.
Because the skin becomes more sensitive with age and heals more slowly, menopausal acne is also more likely to cause scarring and pigmentation. These issues can cause affected individuals to feel self-conscious about their appearance and can significantly impact their quality of life.
The Best Skincare Products for Menopausal Acne
Menopausal skin is delicate and the harsh products used to treat teenage acne are unsuitable. However, there are plenty of options available either with or without a prescription.
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Retinoids are probably the most popular treatments for menopausal acne. They are derived from vitamin A and have the advantage of reducing the signs of aging and sun damage as well as soothing acne. They are available as creams, gels and lotions.
It is possible to buy retinoids over the counter and many different brands are available. However, stronger formulations are available with a prescription.
Some common examples of retinoids include:
- Retinol (CeraVe, Paula’s Choice, etc.).
- Retinaldehyde (Medik8, Strivectin, etc.).
- Adapalene (Differin).
- Tretinoin (Retin-A).
Retinoids are generally well-tolerated, but they can cause side effects, including burning, redness, itching and peeling. They also make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it is essential to wear sunscreen while using retinoids.
To reduce the risk of side effects, patients should apply retinoids for two to four hours on alternate days at first, then increase the dosage gradually.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is antimicrobial, dries the skin and helps to prevent the formation of pimples. It is a common ingredient in skin care products and is available as creams, gels and washes.
Benzoyl peroxide can cause skin irritation so it should be used with caution, especially in menopausal people with sensitive skin.
Some popular brands include La Roche-Posay, Neutrogena, PanOxyl and CeraVe.
3. Azelaic Acid
Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects, helping to reduce the formation and appearance of blemishes. It can also reduce hyperpigmentation. Creams and serums are among the most popular products.
Azelaic acid is well-tolerated but can cause minor skin discomfort, such as itching, when using stronger products.
Some popular brands include Cos De Baha, Urban Skin Rx and Paula’s Choice.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil renowned for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It is a common ingredient in skin care products and can also be purchased as a pure essential oil to mix with a carrier oil and dab onto blemishes.
Some people are sensitive to tea tree oil, so a skin patch test should be performed before using it on larger areas. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and apply a small amount to the forearm. Wait 24 hours to see whether any irritation occurs before applying it to the face.
AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids, are naturally occurring acids, usually extracted from citrus fruit. They are a common ingredient in exfoliating washes and help to remove dead skin cells to unclog pores. They may also reduce the appearance of scarring.
AHAs can increase sun sensitivity, so it is vital to wear sunscreen after using these products.
Glycolic acid is one of the most common AHAs found in skincare products. Some leading brands include L’Oreal, SkinCeuticals and The INKEY List.
6. Procedural Treatments
People with scarring or hyperpigmentation from menopausal acne may choose to undergo procedural treatments, like chemical peels or laser therapy.
Chemical peels use substances like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinol to remove the top layer of skin, revealing the smoother under layers.
Laser therapy involves using a laser to resurface the skin and has the advantage of reducing sebum production and inhibiting bacterial growth.
These procedures should be carried out by a trained dermatologist.
7. Other Treatments
People with underlying medical conditions may need to take systemic medication to control their menopausal acne. For example, spironolactone (Aldactone) is an anti-androgen medication that can help to restore hormonal balance.
Certain forms of the oral contraceptive pill may also be helpful, although the risk of side effects like blood clots and endometrial or breast cancer increases in older women. Some people find hormone replacement therapy helpful, although products containing progestins may contribute to menopausal acne.
We recommend consulting a physician to discuss whether medication is a suitable option.