Acne develops in perimenopausal women for much the same reasons that it curses our years in puberty. The changes and imbalances in hormones during these periods of life impact our skin’s natural defenses and trigger acne.
As estrogen and progesterone levels decline, a woman’s testosterone levels remain relatively stable. Unfortunately, this imbalance causes glands in the skin to produce too much sebum – a natural oil that clogs pores. The body’s immune system responds to the blockages by flooding the area with white blood cells, causing the characteristic bubble of fluid underneath the top layer of skin.
Acne in perimenopausal women is rarely severe enough to warrant medical treatment, and once your hormones balance out, the acne usually disappears.
Menopausal Acne Treatment
If you are concerned about acne and are looking for a way to clear it up, good hygiene and over-the-counter treatments should help.
At home and over the counter treatment options for perimenopausal acne include:
- Wash the face daily. with a mild soap that won’t dry your skin out, and moisturize with a facial cream or lotion. Try not to scrub too hard when exfoliating; this may irritate your skin.
- Use a topical anti-microbial or benzoyl peroxide to cleanse the face.
- No picking or popping. These practices, while tempting, may make the problem worse or cause scarring.
- Avoid tanning, and apply sunscreen to the face when spending time outdoors.
- Replace old cosmetics. Avoid oil-based cosmetics and choose mineral or water-based products. Wash your face of makeup daily before going to bed.
For stronger acne treatments, you are welcome to schedule an appointment with me or a dermatologist to discuss prescription options.
Prescription treatment options for perimenopausal acne include:
- Prescription antibiotics like Benzamycin could do the trick, as well as blackhead treatments like Retinoids (a derivative of Vitamin A). When using Retinoids, be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen daily, as they are notorious for increasing the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
- Oral medications. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, androgen blockers like spironolactone, or a low dosage of severe acne medication such as Accutane.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Some women who start HRT report that their complexion has cleared up, while others find that it’s made their acne troubles worse. HRT can relieve many unpleasant symptoms of menopause, but there are some risks with starting HRT, mostly for women who have a history of breast or endometrial cancers. Most likely, your medical professionals wouldn’t prescribe HRT for skin troubles alone, but may prescribe it if it you’re suffering from a host of problems related to menopause.
Acne is a very normal, common experience for perimenopausal women. If you choose to make an appointment with us, please come prepared with any and all questions and concerns you might have about skin care. Take note of your symptoms and problem areas and be prepared to talk about what products and cleansing practices you’re currently using.