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Menopause Health Center

Menopause and Dry Skin: The Hormone Connection

Dealing with dry, itchy skin at menopause? Find out why -- and get simple tips for smoother skin.
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5 Tips for Dry Skin Care During Menopause continued...

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," Cambio tells WebMD. 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, Tanzi suggests, 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.
  • 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.

As moisturizers go, petroleum jelly is "one of the best," Tanzi tells WebMD. It does a good job of moisturizing even the driest skin. "Slather it on after bathing, then use a towel to gently pat off the excess."

For dry skin problems on the face, Cambio suggests topical antioxidants such as vitamin C or green tea. Other moisturizers recommended by the experts include shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid.

To help moisturizers penetrate the skin, the pros also suggest exfoliating -- sloughing off the top layer of dead skin -- with a gentle scrubbing or by using products containing alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids.

And remember you can hydrate from the inside out by drinking water, says Valerie D. Callender, MD, a dermatologist practicing in Maryland. Equally important is reducing or eliminating alcohol and nicotine, both of which can prematurely age and dry your skin.

Exercise, which is important in menopause for heart and bone health, can keep skin healthy as well.  By increasing the amount of nutrients and oxygen that make it to your skin, exercise, like estrogen, can increases collagen, one of the key substances that keeps our skin youthful.

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