Once you outgrew those awkward adolescent years, you probably cheered at the thought that your acne problems were long gone. But unfortunately, adult acne and rosacea are common skin conditions, especially during menopause – when hormones can go haywire. Learn more about these conditions and how to care for your skin to maintain a healthy, youthful complexion during menopause and beyond.
Menopause and acne
Why does acne flare up for many menopausal women? Here are two reasons:
- Oil production. During menopause, hormones fluctuate. Estrogen levels decrease, causing the skin to thin and lose elasticity. Increases in testosterone and DHEA cause the sebaceous glands — which produce oil — to start working overtime. This excess oil on the skin’s surface is one factor that leads to acne.
- Cell regeneration. Normally, old skin cells die off and new cells replace them at a fairly consistent rate. During menopause, however, the body works slower to eliminate the excess waste. When dead cells combine with excess oil, pores get clogged and acne surfaces.
Tips to combat acne
- Create an anti-acne regimen.
By now, you’ve probably developed a consistent skincare regimen, so it’s crucial to keep up your routine and tweak it. Keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you wash with a gentle cleanser, morning and night. Stay away from acne-fighting cleansers, because they can irritate mature skin.
- Follow with the appropriate moisturizer for your skin type.
- Incorporate an over-the-counter product that contains benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or glycolic acid for mild cases of acne.
- For products with salicylic acid, try Clean and Clear Acne Spot Treatment or NeoCeuticals Acne Spot Treatment .
- Because benzoyl peroxide is typically too harsh on adult skin, choose products that contain lower concentrations of the active ingredient. For instance, Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment contains 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide.
- Use retinoids or retinol.
For persistent acne, a doctor can prescribe topical retinoids, such as tretinoin or tazarotene. These vitamin A derivatives reduce wrinkles and treat acne, making them ideal for mature skin.
Another option is over-the-counter retinol. It isn’t as powerful as prescription retinoids, but it’s gentler on the skin. So if you have sensitive skin, you might want to try out a retinol product before getting a retinoid formula. SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 contains the highest OTC concentration available. It aims to stimulate cell renewal and collagen synthesis to reduce lines, wrinkles and blemishes.
- Seek professional options.
If OTC treatments aren’t working, you might want to consult your dermatologist about other options. Dermatologist Debra Wattenberg, M.D., tells MSNBC that microdermabrasion, chemical peels and lasers can improve acne outbreaks and scars.
- Watch your diet.
Whether diet causes acne has been a controversial topic for decades. For now, there’s no consensus on whether eating certain foods causes or prevents blemishes. But, some people find that specific foods aggravate their acne. If you think that’s the case, pay attention to what you’re eating and try avoiding the food in question.
In general, eating a wholesome diet is still important. Because eating well is vital to your health, it’s only natural that your largest organ, the skin, also benefits.
- Pay attention to product labels.
When looking for skincare and cosmetics, choose products labeled “noncomedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” This means the products won’t clog pores or contribute to further acne breakouts — though this isn’t a guarantee.
- Keep hands off pimples.
No matter how tempting it is, don’t squeeze your blemishes, because you can cause scarring and infection.
- Practice sun safety.
Some ingredients in acne products can make you especially sensitive to sun exposure and sunburn. So, be especially diligent about applying sunscreen every day. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Menopause and rosacea
When they see red bumps and pimples, many menopausal women automatically assume it’s acne. However, an entirely different skin condition might be to blame: rosacea.
These are some common signs of rosacea:
- Blushing and redness
- Appearance of bumps and pimples
- Broken blood vessels.
Importantly, hot flashes from menopause can exacerbate rosacea. In fact, hot flashes might cause the first appearance of rosacea and can trigger subsequent flare-ups.
But, before you assume you’ve got rosacea, visit a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
Tips to combat rosacea
According to the National Rosacea Society, here’s some advice to reduce rosacea symptoms.
- Exercise in cool temperatures.
Never work out in the heat. Similarly, on humid days, exercise in an air-conditioned area.
- Skip hot beverages and spicy foods.
Drink your coffee and tea at room temperature. Avoid foods that are hot and spicy or contain certain seasonings, like pepper or cumin. Also, foods that trigger flare-ups can differ among sufferers, so record the foods that exacerbate your rosacea and avoid them.
- Watch for potential irritants.
Stay away from skincare products with alcohol, witch hazel and perfumes, which may worsen rosacea symptoms. Instead, look for gentle, fragrance-free products, like La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser and ATOPALM MLE Cream .
- Wear sunscreen always.
Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every day, 20 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
- Avoid hot baths, stress and extreme exercise. All of these can cause rosacea to flare up. Specifically, take lukewarm baths, try stress management techniques (such as deep-breathing and visualization exercises) and do low-intensity workouts.
Learn everything you need to know about acne-fighting skincare in our Complete Acne Handbook.