As we mature, the first visible signs of ageing appear on the most visible and public part of our bodies, our skin.
During the peri-menopause the skin starts to change, how fast it changes depends on genetics, on lifestyle and skin care routines.
Lower levels of oestrogen during this time causes changes in your skin. Oestrogen supports the production of collagen, so as the levels of oestrogen declines, so does the levels of collagen production.
Collagen is a protein and makes up about 75% of our dry skin weight, it keeps the skin plump and firm and helps the skin retain its moisture. Collagen essentially provides the scaffolding for your skin structures. As collagen production declines, you may start to experience more dryness, less firmness and increased loss of elasticity, fine lines will start to appear.
From the age of about 35, women start to lose collagen production, about 1% every year, and can lose up to around 30% during the first 5 years of menopause.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeine, consuming a poor diet and prolonged sun exposure can all increase the rate in which we lose collagen. Some of the damage will have already taken place but you can still improve your skin by improving your diet, lifestyle and caring for your skin.
Smoking causes fine lines around the lips due to repeated puckering of the mouth, and the chemicals, including nicotine in cigarettes reduces blood flow in the blood vessels and starves the tissues of essential nutrients, the chemicals damage collagen and elastin which causes wrinkles. Smoking can also cause pigmentation in the gums and lips causing them to be unevenly discoloured.
You may notice age spots appearing, this is because the skin’s pigmentation, which was once constant becomes variable causing these dark spots due to over exposure to sun exposure during your youth. Be very careful in the sun, use sunscreen and don’t expose the skin to more than 20 minutes of sunshine a day.
Some women may notice that their skin has become more sensitive so it is essential that it is cared for properly. Food allergies have also been linked to skin conditions, so it may be worth looking at your diet alongside your skin care routine if you are having issues.
Some skin conditions that may be experienced during the perimenopause are Inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and skin eruptions such as spots and acne.
With all inflammatory conditions a causative factor must be excluded. With dermatitis it is usually a cleaning agent such as washing powder, cleaning spray or soap. Eczema is usually due to milk products or other foods. With psoriasis it's usually due to tissue acidity from the diet caused by wine, tomatoes or sour fruits.
Acne is uncommon during the menopause but can occur in some women due the fluctuating hormone levels. Some women who already have acne may find it worsens, but acne after the menopause is rare.
The increase in the hormone FSH during the menopause can cause a stimulation of androgen production (male hormones) which can increase the amount of oil produced in the skin, leading to outbreaks.
It is important not to become obsessed with how you look, but to try and embrace your lines and feel lucky to be alive. Use your midlife to take care of yourself, pamper your skin with drinking plenty of water, a fabulous diet and a daily skincare routine.
You will start to feel the benefit inside and out. We cannot stop the ageing process, but we can try to embrace it and enjoy the older version of you.
This article is part of myTamarin's Mental Health Awareness Week blog series looking into how employers should be supporting through critical life events. This one looks into the impact menopause can have on mental health.Read post