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Impact de la ménopause sur la peau.

Menopause: What impact does it have on my skin?

Menopause is not a pathological condition. It is a physiological phenomenon that affects all women at a certain age. Besides the cessation of menstruation, 80% of women experience at least one other symptom. Among the changes that occur during menopause, a notable one is the alteration of the skin's condition. What is the impact of menopause on the skin? This article provides some insights.

A brief reminder about the biological structure of the skin.

The skin is composed of three layers, from the most superficial to the deepest:

  • Epidermis:

    This is the most superficial layer of the skin. It contains several cellular populations (keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans cells, etc...).

    Thekeratinocytesare present at various levels of the epidermis. They synthesize keratin, a fibrous and water-insoluble protein, which gives the skin its waterproof nature. It thus protects the skin from external aggressions.

    The primary role of the epidermis is its function as a skin protector thanks to keratinocytes and the stratum corneum. Indeed, the stratum corneum is composed of various epidermal lipids that shield the skin from external aggressions and transepidermal dehydration. Moreover, it is covered by a hydrolipidic film which acts as an additional protective barrier. This hydrolipidic film is primarily composed of sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands.

    The skin also containsmelanocytes. When exposed to UV rays, melanocytes synthesize melanin, a pigment that serves to protect our skin from UV rays. Therefore, tanning is actually a defense mechanism of the skin!

  • Dermis:

    It is at the level of the dermis that new skin cells multiply in order to replace those that are eliminated. Furthermore, the dermis contains the fibroblasts which synthesize collagen fibers, elastin, as well as hyaluronic acid, responsible for the density, elasticity, and firmness of the skin.

  • Hypodermis:

    Its primary role is to manage the storage and release of lipids. It also plays a part in thermoregulation.

Menopause, a hormonal upheaval.

Menopause is the period in a woman's life characterized by thecessation of ovulation and theend of menstrual cycles (menstruation). It generally occurs between 45 and 55 years old.

Multiple symptoms appear, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, fatigue, irritability. The risk of disease also increases (osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases). At the time of menopause, women's skin also undergoes numerous changes.

All these changes can be explained by a decrease in hormonal activity. Indeed, the ovaries no longer secreteestrogen and progesterone.

Hormone deficiency, a direct impact on the skin.

The secretion of hormones has an impact on the skin:

  • Estrogens :

    Under the influence of estrogens, the fibroblasts present in the dermis synthesize more collagen fibers, elastin, as well as hyaluronic acid, providing the skin with improved density, elasticity, and firmness. Furthermore, estrogens increase the number of keratinocytes which are responsible for synthesizing keratin, a protein that protects the skin.

  • Progesterone :

    The role of progesterone in skin health is still not well understood. It appears that it increases sebum secretion. Furthermore, progesterone has a known anti-androgenic effect.

To note : Androgens are sex hormones that trigger the onset and development of male sexual characteristics.

During menopause, the cessation of ovulation leads to a halt in the hormonal activity of estrogen and progesterone. Consequently, the decrease in estrogen production results in a dermal and epidermal atrophy : the skin thins and loses its suppleness, elasticity, and firmness. Moreover, due to a loss in hyaluronic acid and inactivity of the sebaceous glands, the skin becomes dehydrated and the hydrolipidic film is weakened. The skin then becomes more susceptible to external aggressions and transepidermal dehydration.

In addition to a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, the level of androgen increases, which is the cause of the onset of unwanted facial hair and the intensification of hair loss.

The visible effects of menopause on the skin.

Changes in the internal structure of the skin reveal signs at the level of the epidermis. As previously mentioned, the sebaceous glands are no longer able to fully perform their role. This is the cause of the decrease in the formation of the hydrolipidic film, and therefore of the dehydration of the skin, and a low resistance to external aggressions.

It should be noted that a loss of skin hydration can cause it to lose its glow, which is why you end up with a dull complexion. With the decrease in collagen and elastin, the skin tends to lose its elasticity and the wrinkles begin to deepen.

Sources

  • PIERARD G. & al. La peau et le temps de la ménopause. La Revue Médicale de Liège (2006).

  • PUIZINA-IVIC N. Skin aging. Acta Dermatovenerologica Alpina Pannonica et Adriatica (2008).

  • DESMOULIERE A. & al. Skin changes during ageing. Subcellular Biochemistry (2019).

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