Putting Middle-Aged Skin Problems in Perspective
As women enter their 40s, they may begin experiencing a host of medical concerns that might not have been challenges when they were younger. Yet what most women in their forties and beyond don’t expect are a wide variety of skin concerns, most of which can be attributed to declining hormone levels. As women age, and especially as they enter menopause, four key hormones naturally begin declining. While that may seem alarming, it’s highly normal –and is, in fact, expected – that middle-aged women will begin to experience lower progesterone, estrogen, thyroid, and testosterone levels. The key is not only recognizing the effect that these diminished levels may have, but in providing support and treatment to help get them back into proper balance. One physiological area visibly impacted by hormonal fluctuations is the skin. I use the P.E.T.T. acronym to explain what women “of a certain age” can expect when looking in the mirror.
Progesterone A progesterone deficiency can cause a litany of health woes, including depression, infertility, slow metabolism, migraines, anxiety, and menstrual irregularities. When it comes to the skin, women with diminished progesterone levels can expect cracked skin, brittle nails, hair loss, and the inflamed pimples and disfiguring breakouts caused by adult-onset acne.
Estrogen Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe Hormone”, estrogen is responsible for lustrous hair, radiant skin, and a vital, healthy appearance. When estrogen levels begin to decline, the skin can lose elasticity due to reduced collagen and elastin production, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. A thinning epidermis can cause dry skin, and middle-age women may be more prone to sun damage.
Thyroid When thyroid hormones levels are low, everything slow down accordingly, making it easier to gain and retain weight, and more difficult to fire up the necessary energy to get through the day. Those with hypothyroidism can expect a litany of skin woes, ranging from a pale appearance, scaly texture, coarse hair, dry scalp, and puffy face, eyelids and hands.
Testosterone Although this “rejuvenating elixir” is most commonly associated with men, women have their share of testosterone as well. And when it starts diminishing, this loss impacts them exactly the same way as it does for men, with decreased muscle and bone mass, mood changes, and a reduced sex drive. From a skin standpoint, women can expect a much drier texture, augmented psoriasis, and the dreaded “chicken hands.”