Tips for Dry Skin Care During Menopause
To help turn dry, problem skin into smoother, fresher skin, experts offer these quick tips for women in menopause.
Focus on smart fats: Essential fatty acids -- like the omega-3s found in salmon, walnuts, and fortified eggs -- help produce your skin's oil barrier, vital in keeping skin hydrated. A diet short of these body-boosting fats can leave skin dry, itchy, and prone to acne. Most of us have a diet low in omega-3s, which are also found in sardines, soy, safflower oil, and flax.
Smooth on that sunscreen: Keep skin healthy with "a broad spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher," says Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Cape Coral, Fla.
Dry skin, wrinkles, moles, and skin cancers can all result from too much sun, so add a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection to your line of defense. Aim for about an ounce to cover all sun-exposed skin.
And if you think an overcast day means you don't need sunscreen, think again. Skin-damaging ultraviolet light can penetrate clouds, fog, even snow.
Stop those steamy showers: Piping-hot baths and showers may feel fabulous, but "hot water ... can be very harsh to the skin and dry it out miserably," Stop stripping your skin of its natural oils. Take shorter showers and use warm water.
Also, preserve those natural oils by scrubbing with soap only in the spots you really need it, like your underarms, feet, and groin. Because your legs, back, and arms don't usually get very dirty, skip the soap and stick to a warm-water wash for these areas.
Use a gentle soap: Scented, antibacterial, or deodorant soaps can be harsh, removing your body's essential oils, leaving skin even more itchy and dry. Instead, reach for an unscented or lightly scented bar. Cetaphil, Dove, or Purpose as good, mild cleansers.
Remember to moisturize: Within a few minutes after your warm shower, smooth on your favorite moisturizer. You may favor a pricey potion from the cosmetic counter, but humbler lotions like mineral oil and petroleum jelly help trap in much-needed moisture, too.
Somewhere between the ages of 40 and 58 most women enter menopause. This is when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, periods come to an end, and the production of estrogen begins to decline.
Estrogen is a powerhouse hormone. It stimulates maturation of a girl's body at puberty. It helps keep a woman's bones strong. It even regulates the production of cholesterol.
Another thing estrogen does is stimulate the formation of skin-smoothing collagen and oils. That's why, as menopause approaches and estrogen production diminishes, dry, itchy skin becomes very common.
That reduction of estrogen, and the changing ratios of hormones in your body, don't just slow down your body's oil production, they also reduce your body's ability to retain moisture.
It also could be RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). I developed it when I hit perimenopause. I don't feel anything when I am in the throws of my day, but let me sit at my desk for a while or on the couch at night watching TV and I get the itchy creepy crawlies that make me jump and itch everywhere. Mine is so bad that I can even get it in my arms and spots across my back. I take Mirapex for it and it has relieved the symptoms completely.