Taking Care of Menopausal Acne

3 minute read

By: Alloy Staff|Last updated: May 10, 2022
Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone

You may have thought your days of acne were over, but hormonal changes associated with menopause can change the conditions in your skin and cause it to break out. 

Some women may even experience hormonal acne after completing menopause. However, there is good news—with some sage advice and the right treatment plan, you can get your menopausal acne under control.    

Is it Normal to Get Acne During Menopause?

Unfortunately, yes. During menopause, your hormone levels are changing. In the ten years prior to menopause estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all in flux. Once you enter menopause, the balance of these three hormones alters dramatically. Since you are no longer ovulating, the levels of estrogen and progesterone fall precipitously. The levels of testosterone made by the ovary decline as well but not as rapidly as the others. This relative excess of testosterone is not only responsible for those middle-aged breakouts but for those unwanted chin hairs as well.

I’m in My 50s—Why Is My Face Breaking Out?

As your hormone levels change, your skin responds in two ways: 

  • Your skin will produce more oil and sebum

  • Your skin will decrease the rate at which old skin cells are shed 

Your pores can be blocked by these old skin cells and become inflamed, resulting in breakouts.  These skin changes are similar to the ones that happen during teenage acne, which is also related to hormonal changes.

9 Ways to Manage Menopausal Skin and Control Menopausal Acne

So, now we know a bit more about the causes of hormonal acne, but what can we do about it?

Though menopausal acne resembles teenage acne in how it develops, it needs to be treated differently. This is because your skin is likely thinner and dryer than in your adolescent years, and the suitable remedies for teenage skin are most likely too harsh. Dermatologists recommend the following for the care of menopausal acne:  

1. Use a Gentle Cleanser, Not Soap

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser containing low levels of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps unclog your pores by removing oils (sebum) and dead skin. Make sure you use the suggested amount of cleanser—low levels of salicylic acid will not dry your skin out, but you can damage and irritate your skin if you use too much cleanser. You should wash your face every day, but make sure your cleanser is dermatologist recommended for dry skin. 

2. Use Moisturizer

Treat your skin to moisturizer after you bathe or wash your face. Moisturizers can counteract the drying effects of surfactants found in many soaps. Avoid fragrant moisturizers, as fragrance can dry out your skin and cause scarring in places with acne. Reapply moisturizer throughout the day, as needed, wherever your skin feels dry.

3. Avoid Using Oil-Based Cosmetics

If your skin is producing too much sebum, then adding more oil-based products to the mix will likely increase the chances of an acne breakout. “Comedogenic” is the term dermatologists use for products that are likely to clog pores and cause acne breakouts. Be sure to keep an eye out for “non-comedogenic” products instead. Even natural oils—like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil—should be avoided because these are comedogenic.

4. Use Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be an essential part of everyone’s skincare regimen—including menopausal women. This is because your skin may have become more sensitive to the sun during menopause. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, with SPF 30 or higher, to your face and other exposed skin whenever spending time outdoors. This will help you avoid acne-related scarring and help keep sun spots at bay.

5. Avoid Tanning

In addition to using ample amounts of sunscreen, you should also avoid the tanning booth. UV radiation—the kind used in tanning booths to encourage melanin production—damages your skin in the same way a sunburn damages your skin. Though light therapy is sometimes used to treat acne scarring, the radiation process used in light therapy is much more medically controlled than in a tanning booth. Skin damaged by UV radiation also has an increased risk of melanoma.   

6. Avoid Dairy

Some studies have found that drinking milk and eating dairy products, regardless of frequency or amount, is associated with a greater risk of acne. Try limiting your intake of dairy products and see if you notice positive changes in your skin.  And if you are limiting your intake of dairy, make sure you get at least 1000mg of calcium either in foods or supplements.

7. Eat Brightly Colored Fruits and Vegetables

An anti-inflammatory diet rich in brightly colored fruits and vegetables can help calm your skin’s inflammation and reduce acne symptoms. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and antioxidants, such as blueberries, cantaloupe, and bell peppers, will give your skin the nutrients it needs to reduce the conditions that lead to acne breakouts naturally. 

8. Get Sleep

Lack of sleep and increased stress are known triggers for menopausal acne. When your body is stressed from a lack of restful sleep, it produces more cortisol. This stress hormone increases oil production in your skin, leading to acne breakouts. It can be challenging for menopausal women to get restful sleep when hot flashes and night sweats come calling. However, by avoiding caffeine, late afternoon naps, spicy foods, and bright TV and computer screens in the evening, you can improve your chances of a restful night’s sleep.  

9. See Your Doctor

If your acne is severe, medical treatments may help. Your menopause-trained doctor can assess your symptoms and recommend the proper treatment for your menopausal acne. Treatment options may include the following:

  • Topical Solutions

    Topical solutions need to be chosen with care, as many contain ingredients that can make skin drier and more irritated. The most common topical solutions prescribed for acne are topical retinoids. These creams also have anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce signs of aging in older skin. Though available over the counter, stronger retinoid creams are only available by prescription.   

  • Menopause Hormone Therapy

    Oral contraceptives containing low-dose ethinyl estradiol and progestin, which although not bioidentical have fewer acne-producing tendencies than naturally produced testosterone, are sometimes prescribed to treat acne in premenopausal as well as perimenopausal women. 

If You Suffer From Menopause Symptoms Such as Acne, Alloy Can Help

Alloy can help you manage the many symptoms of menopause, including menopausal acne. Contact Alloy today to speak with a menopause-trained doctor and get your menopausal acne under control. 

Sources

“Caring For Your Skin In Menopause.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/anti-aging/skin-care-during-menopause

Jillian Kubala, MS, RD. “The Best Diet and Supplements for Acne Vulgaris (Hormonal Acne).” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hormonal-acne-diet

Kristeen Cherney. “Hormonal Acne: Traditional Treatments, Natural Remedies, and More.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/hormonal-acne#symptoms-and-causes

Niti Khunger and Krati Mehrotra. “Menopausal Acne – Challenges And Solutions.” International Journal of Women’s Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825478/

“Sleep Problems and Menopause: What Can I Do?” National Institute of Health. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sleep-problems-and-menopause-what-can-i-do

WebMD Editorial Contributors. “Top Foods High in Vitamin C.” Webmd. https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-vitamin-c

Written by:

Alloy Staff

Who is Alloy? Alloy exists to help women age healthfully and feel like their best selves. We approach women’s health with radical honesty. We fuse together powerful medical expertise, science backed treatments, and the support of a community that knows how you feel. We don’t just get you - we are you.

Medically reviewed by:

Sharon D. Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists with a focus on the specific health challenges associated with menopause.