Acne during Menopause: What you need to know
Why I am getting acne in my 50s?
Fact checked by Grzegorz Stanislawski, MD
Menopause is an uncomfortable experience for most, to say the least. The symptoms of mood swings and hot flashes and whatnot would be bad enough, but also acne breakouts? Totally unfair!
You might be asking yourself though, what exactly causes all of these strange symptoms?
While many believe that acne caused by hormonal changes is done by the time you reach menopausal age, this is far from the truth.
But why is that the case? And what can you do about it? We’re here to answer all of your questions!
So, what exactly is menopause?
Menopause occurs at the end of a woman’s fertile years and essentially marks the end of the monthly menstruation.
While many believe that your body’s development stops at 25, the truth is that your body is constantly growing and changing throughout your whole life. Menopause is a super normal and natural transition that typically occurs towards your early 50s (1).
During the premenopausal period (perimenopause), your body experiences a natural dip (2) in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, similar to what happens right before menstruation in a normative cycle. When these hormones dip, your body can then also experience a rise in androgen hormones (like testosterone).
While not having any more periods might sound fabulous, the symptoms (like hotflashes, moodswings, and lowered libido (1)) of menopause can be less than fun for many women.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause, or premenopause, is simply the time when your body starts to prepare for menopause.
During this period, your ovaries begin producing fewer “female hormones” and your menstrual cycle can become more sporadic and irregular as a result.
These hormonal fluctuations usually coincide with the time in which most women might notice breakouts and blemishes popping up.
How long does menopause go on?
Menopause is marked by having 12 consecutive months without your menstrual cycle.
However, perimenopause can actually last between 8-10 years on the high end (2), but on average can last around 4. That’s a lot of time to be experiencing hormonal changes!
What causes acne during menopause?
So, with all of these hormonal changes occurring, the menopausal transition can also trigger hormonal acne (3).
The dip in estrogen/progesterone and subsequent rise in androgens that we discussed send a signal to the sebaceous glands in your skin to produce more sebum (oil), which can clog up your pores and produce bumps and blemishes if your skin is prone to them, often around the jawline.
Want to know what’s causing your acne? Check out our in-depth 6-week program for detailed, science-backed insights to help you understand your acne-prone skin.
How is menopausal acne different from other forms of hormonal acne?
In short, it’s not much different at all.
Pretty much all acne caused by changes in female hormones, whether during pregnancy, menstruation, or menopause all have the same root issue, and require similar solutions to help regulate your hormones.
Similar, but not the same! While period acne and pregnancy acne have their own individual treatments, menopausal acne can be further helped by a more targeted approach.
How to treat menopausal acne according to a dermatologist
If this is all making you feel a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry! There are many ways to help alleviate your breakouts.
For menopausal acne, and for most hormonally induced breakouts in general, the issue is an internal one deeper in the skin, and the skin tends to be more sensitive and delicate during the menopausal age.
The glands deep in your skin are having an effect, so a combination of treatments can be best, focusing on “benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids, azelaic acid or salicylic acid ”. (3)
For more difficult cases, oral medications that help to even out your hormones will be your best bet. As a bonus, such medications can also help even out mood swings and other related symptoms, so win-win!
When it comes to oral medications, weirdly enough, your gynecologist might be able to help you out on this one. Medications that specifically increase your levels of estrogens will be the most beneficial, such as a combination birth control.
However, there are many other options and only your doctor can help advise you on what’s best for you and your individual skin.
Track your acne with our face scanner to help understand how and when your hormones are influencing your skin.
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There is no one-size fits all solution for acne prone skin: even though pimples form the same way every time, the factors that lead to breakouts are different for everyone.
We’re all about finding what works for you and helping you to exclude one possible trigger factor at a time. Download our app and start your journey with us, today.
At the end of the day, the best approach is always to consult with your dermatologist about what method is best for you and your individual skin.
If you’d like even more of your questions answered, feel free to come check out our monthly Live on Instagram. Our dermatologist Dr. Greg will be available to answer all of your burning skin questions, so mark it in your calendar and hop on!
- Greendale G, Lee N, Arriola E. The menopause. The Lancet. 1999;353(9152):571-580. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(98)05352-5
- Prior J. Perimenopause: The Complex Endocrinology of the Menopausal Transition. Endocr Rev. 1998;19(4):397-428. doi:10.1210/edrv.19.4.0341
- Khunger N, Mehrotra K. <p>Menopausal Acne – Challenges And Solutions</p>. Int J Womens Health. 2019;Volume 11:555-567. doi:10.2147/ijwh.s174292
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