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Let's talk about menopausal acne: Why it happens, how to treat it and what to avoid.

As if dealing with the effects of ageing isn't enough, menopause comes rolling into the party and shakes things up even more. 

No matter how positive your attitude towards menopause is, the symptoms are REAL. And it can suck. 

Watch: Check out these makeup tips for ageing skin. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

For those who skipped biology class, menopause is basically the winding down of the whole mensuration game, where you'll naturally stop getting your period. 

It usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, but there's a whole heap of stuff that goes on in the lead-up.

We're talking about all that cool stuff like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and irregular periods. Fun! These are all signs that your ovaries are shutting up shop, producing less estrogen and going on a long-ass holiday.

This can be a little problematic, though - because estrogen does a lot of good things for your skin, like making sure it's healthy and strong. ARGH!

The result? Hormonal fluctuations can lead to annoying things like acne and breakouts - everything you do not need when you're already going through all that other sh*t above.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where we talk about how to reduce acne scarring. Post continues below.

"Acne during menopause is likely due to a drop in estrogen levels and/or an increase in our 'male' hormones known as androgens, such as testosterone," said dermatologist Cara McDonald from Complete Skin Specialists

"Most menopausal women with acne lesions have 'normal' hormone levels but are overly sensitive to these hormones at the skin level."

Apparently things like genetics, stress, dietary changes, lack of sleep or exercise and other lifestyle changes can also be contributing factors. "These all have knock-on effects to our carefully balanced hormonal systems." Ugh.

What does menopausal acne look like?

"Although classic teenage acne is still closely related to changing hormones, it has some different features to 'hormonal acne'," said McDonald. 

"This is a term we use to describe adult women who have persistent acne linked to their hormonal cycle or other hormonal changes including pregnancy and menopause." 

So, yeah - hormonal acne and menopausal acne are the same kinda deal.

While teenage acne tends to pop up in the T-zone area (forehead, nose and chin), hormonal acne will usually affect the lower face and neck areas, especially the chin and jawline. Like a beard. A pimply beard. Yay!

Instead of the oily, congested skin associated with teenage acne, those suffering hormonal acne are likely to have dry and sensitive skin. 

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"In most cases the hormone levels are normal, but sufferers have excessive sensitivity to their hormones at the skin level resulting in blockages and inflammation around the pilosebaceous unit (pore)."  

It just keeps getting better, doesn't it? *Wipes tears*.

What's the best way to treat menopausal acne?

While acne during menopause will usually bugger off on its own, the waiting game is HARD. But that doesn't mean you should head to a pharmacy and stock up on a bunch of hard-hitting acne product - because it won't do sh*t for your skin. 

If anything, it'll just make things a whole lot worse.

That's because your skin is ultra-sensitive now, and your skin barrier is way weaker than it once was. This means standard acne treatments are going to be waaay too harsh. So you need to be careful what you're using on your skin.

"Many people are tempted to reach for acne products designed for teens, but unfortunately in cases of hormonal acne, the skin may not tolerate these harsh treatments. It is important to protect the skin using good quality moisturiser and gentle soap-free cleansers."

We like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Caring Wash Cleanser $27.95 and QV Face Gentle Cleanser, $22.49 - give them a whirl if you don't know where to start.

Dr McDonald also suggests reaching for gentle products that can help clear your pores, such as those containing salicylic acid or beta-lipohydroxyacid (BHA), without over-drying the skin. "Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) is also a great ingredient to reduce inflammation and redness," she said.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, $119 is a goodie, and so is The Inkey List Niacinamide Face Serum, $12.

If you're having no luck with the topical treatments above, you may need to get something stronger. 

"Medication to block the effect of the hormones at the skin level can be very effective. Consider making an appointment with a dermatologist to help address the problem."

What other changes will you notice, besides acne?

"Menopause is associated with a significant drop in estrogen levels and consequently many changes throughout a woman’s body. It can be a major turning point in the appearance and function of the skin," said Dr McDonald.

Your skin will get a little thinner (since collagen production, skin thickness, and estrogen are all related) and a natural decrease of cell turnover will occur. "Most notably we see a rapid loss of structural integrity and ability to repair, with increased signs of ageing."

"Other than acne, we tend to see thinning of the hair on the scalp and increased facial hair and dryness of skin and nails."

It all sounds pretty doom and gloom, hey? 

But knowledge is power, friends, and luckily you're armed with all of these glorious little nuggets of info to help keep your skin strong and supple, and ward off the effects of acne. 

Along with a healthy lifestyle (eating well, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, yada yada yada) this will hopefully help make the menopausal experience a less crappy and more comfortable process. 

Feature image: Getty

Do you suffer from menopausal acne? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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