Changing hormone levels during menopause can lead to skin changes and may lead to the development of eczema.
A decrease in estrogen during menopause can cause the skin to become drier and less resilient and may lead to the development of eczema.
Eczema can make the skin dry, itchy, and inflamed, and it may be easily irritated.
This article examines the link between eczema and menopause, other skin changes that can occur during this time, and treatment options to manage eczema symptoms.
Skin elastin also decreases, and the epidermis and dermis layers become thinner. This can result in dry, sensitive skin.
Collagen, which helps the skin’s resilience and elasticity, also declines during menopause. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), skin loses around 30% of its collagen during the first 5 years of menopause. After that, the skin loses 2% of its collagen every year for the next 20 years.
According to the AAD, people may experience the following skin changes during menopause:
Common symptoms of eczema can include:
- itchy skin
- sensitive skin
- inflamed or swollen skin, which may appear discolored
- scaly or rough patches of skin
- crusting or oozing
People can have one or more of these symptoms, which may flare up or worsen with certain triggers.
In darker skin, areas of eczema may appear ashen gray, dark brown, or purple. In lighter skin, eczema may appear red.
Treatment for eczema during menopause may include the following:
People can use an over-the-counter (OTC) emollient or ask their doctor for a prescription-strength emollient for severe eczema. Ointments are greasier and are suitable for people with very dry skin.
People can check for ingredients that trap moisture, such as urea. Eczema makes the skin more sensitive, so ingredients such as fragrance, perfume, or lanolin may irritate the skin.
People can also wash with an emollient product to add moisture to the skin when bathing, rather than using soap, which can be drying.
People may require stronger steroids, a different treatment method, or to check for an infection.
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A person can discuss whether hormone therapy is right for them with a doctor.
To ease the symptoms of eczema, a person can consider:
- Choosing fragrance-free skin care products to avoid irritating the skin or causing a flare-up.
- Applying a moisturizer straight after bathing or whenever the skin feels dry.
- Using skin care products with retinol or peptides, which can help to increase collagen levels in the skin.
- Testing any new skin care products on a small skin area without eczema first to check if there is any adverse reaction.
- Taking shorter showers or baths in lukewarm water.
- Trying to determine what triggers an eczema flare-up, such as stress or specific ingredients in skin care products.
- Using 100% cotton towels, sheets, and loose-fitting clothing. This allows the skin to breathe and may be less irritating than other fabrics.
- Using a detergent free from fragrance and dye to wash clothes, sheets, and towels.
- Aiming to avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures where possible, as this can cause an eczema flare-up.
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet with plenty of fats, protein, and zinc, which all promote healing and vitamin C to help fight infection.
- Drinking plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated. It will also help maintain a healthy flow of oxygen and nutrients, which are important for healing.
In addition, the AAD recommends the following skin care tips during menopause:
- Applying a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every day before going outside.
- Attending routine skin cancer screening appointments and regularly self-examining skin for any unusual changes.
- Consulting a doctor or dermatologist for a skin exam before self-treating any age spots.
People can work with a doctor or board certified dermatologist to develop an individual treatment plan to control their symptoms and reduce flare-ups.
If people have severe eczema, eczema that covers large areas of the body, or eczema that does not respond to (OTC) treatments, people will need to contact a doctor for advice.
If people feel stress triggers their eczema or eczema is causing emotional issues, they may find it helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor.
According to the National Eczema Association, eczema flare-ups may resolve and then reappear over time.
Although there is currently no cure for eczema, treatments can help to ease symptoms.
During menopause, estrogen levels drop, which can cause changes to the skin. A reduction in collagen and elastin means the skin can become drier, making conditions such as eczema more likely.
Frequent use of moisturizers, avoiding triggers where possible, and using any OTC or prescription medication as necessary can help manage eczema.
If people have severe or worsening eczema, they can consult a doctor for further treatment advice.