How to Manage Menopause Acne
Although acne is commonly known as a prepubescent or adolescent condition, fewer people are aware of its frequent return at a later date: that is, during menopause. How could it be? And why?
Menopause is still to this day a very stigmatized topic, and the experience of going through menopause can leave a lot of women feeling isolated and alone, for there’s a ton of information still missing from mainstream culture and several misconceptions still plaguing women over 50 who might be approaching or going through menopause.
It’s not just acne: rosacea, rashes, heightened or rapidly worsening wrinkles, and general inflammation and sensitivity are just some of the skin conditions frequently associated with menopause. Adult acne, in particular, is a lot more common than we’d think, and it can be a real unwelcome “blast from the past” for women who thought they’d left their pimple days behind.
Let’s find out everything there is to know about menopausal acne, how long it can last, how you can best treat it, and what to do to potentially avoid it.
What is menopausal acne?
Menopausal acne is a form of hormonal acne that manifests in women between 40 and 60 years of age who are approaching or going through menopause. Around age 40, women enter perimenopause, or the "menopausal transition," which is when symptoms like acne, hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal imbalances might start showing. Menopausal acne, in particular, affects 25% of women aged 40-49, which is quite the high percentage compared to the 50% found in women between ages 20-29.
This kind of adult acne usually appears in the form of breakouts in the lower part of the face, along the jawline and lower cheeks, where hormonal cysts and whiteheads tend to focus. Menopausal acne can also affect the body, not just the face, and can also manifest in the form of overall skin inflammation, clogged follicles, and excess sebum.
What causes acne in menopause
Adult, perimenopausal and menopausal acne are generally caused by hormonal imbalances. In later life, women’s bodies are known to go through hormonal changes and different levels of hormonal sensitivity. During menopause, estrogen production drops quite drastically while androgen increases. For some women, this is the same reason why they could witness a deepening of their voice or the appearance of facial hair.
How long does menopause acne last?
As acne is a hormonal condition, it is common for symptoms to go away on their own once hormonal levels balance out once again, but how long this takes depends on the individual and their particular health and wellness levels. On average, you can expect them to settle down after a few months, between two and six.
How to treat menopausal acne
When treating menopausal acne, retinoids and retinoid-based creams and lotions can help lessen redness and inflammation, along with topical antibiotics like clindamycin, metronidazole, and azithromycin. Other recommended treatments are topical sulphur, which helps kill bacteria and can reduce the spread of acne from one spot on the face to another, and androgen-blocking spironolactone or anti-androgen treatment Winlevi. These are best prescribed by a dermatologist, and can be more or less suitable for different people depending on individual skin types and other factors.
As with any form of acne, and most skin conditions, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle when dealing with a particularly acute phase or when multiple factors, like alcohol, dairy, caffeine, and harsh chemicals come together as a potent inflammatory mix. Try to limit your alcohol intake, get enough sleep, and only use non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products.
Other helpful general recommendations include washing the skin with a salicylic acid cleanser, unclog pores with niacinamide-based products, changing your pillowcase often and avoiding picking, which can lead to scarring. But the reality of menopausal acne is that it’s a form of hormonal acne, which by its very nature doesn’t usually respond to topical treatments as much as other types of skin inflammation. If oral treatments are needed, it’s always best to speak to a doctor about it.
The bottom line
Like many other phases of life, menopause can both be challenging and a period of reinvigorating discovery.
The stigma attached to menopause, and menopausal conditions like acne, is still very present in our society and something that not many people know how to best approach. It can be scary, and confusing, to find yourself dealing with the same kind of pimples you were at twelve or fifteen, only forty years later! That’s why the most important thing is to not be afraid to look for help, and take the matter into your own hands.
There are just as many solutions for the challenges of menopause as there are for any other complex time of our lives. With a little patience and a whole lot of concrete and helpful info, here at Dandy we’re all about removing stigma and helping women of all ages live their best lives!