Skin Health - How Menopause, the Gut and Ageing Play a Role
As a 54 year old female, I am more acutely aware than ever as both a Nurse a Practitioner and Menopausal Woman of the many ways that Menopause effects our bodies. As such I am determined to assist other women like me to manage and recognise the many ways menopause effects our bodies.
Many of these symptoms may currently be confusing you as to what is going on in your body - and much confusion around why so many of your bodily functions have altered.
If you are anything like me, I began to see my body and General health change in so many ways during this period that I was so confused as to why I was feeling so ill.
I was totally unaware of the many ways menopause effects our bodies, besides the commonly understood symptoms of hot flushes.
Through this series of blog posts I am to uncover the mystery that is menopause and assist you in managing this life stage, that can for many women be crippling. You may be experiencing symptoms that remain unexplained, and despite numerous visits to your health practitioner and multiple blood tests and investigations that come back normal - leaving you still feeling ILL beyond explanation.
So together let’s explore how we can be our best selves during this menopausal / hormonal storm. The path to feeling yourself again is in sight - so buckle up
Let’s begin this journey of discovery on all things menopause with our skin, gut and ageing
Our skin is the natural outer layer of the body. It is the largest of our organs, in both area and weight. In adults, the skin covers about 2 square metres and weighs about 4.5-5kg! (1) It is made up of two layers – the thinner outer layer (the epidermis) and the deeper, thicker inner layer (the dermis).
Functions of the skin include:
Controlling body temperature
Oils are secreted by the skin help to stop water evaporating form the body, and water coming in when swimming or bathing; the oils also help to stop hair drying out.
Removal of some things from the body, such as sweat and heat.
Production of keratin to help protect the skin from heat, abrasions, bacteria and chemicals
Production of melanin which contributes to skin colour and helps to protect our skin from UV light.
Contains collagen and elastic fibres which resist stretching or pulling
Houses nerve endings which allow us to feel warmth, coolness, pain, tickling and itching
Production of vitamin D
A 2017 study defined skin sensitivities as “the occurrence of unpleasant sensations (stinging, burning, pain, pruritus, and tingling sensations) in response to stimuli that normally should not provoke such sensations.” The unpleasant sensations cannot be explained by lesions occurred due to skin disease. “The skin can appear normal or be accompanied by erythema. Sensitive skin can affect all body locations, especially the face”. (2)
Symptoms of sensitive skin can include:
Gut health and the skin
Recent research has looked into the connection between gut health and skin health. We know that the gut microbiome has an effect on our immune system, which in turn, has an effect on our organs, including the skin. Growing evidence supports a link between gut dysbiosis and common inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea and acne; and there are specific strains of probiotics that can assist with these different conditions. (3)
One of the roles of our skin is to protect us from foreign bacteria and pathogens entering our bodies. The skin also has its own microbiome, which is influenced by the gut microbiome. Fermentation of some types of fibres in our intestines will determine what types of bacteria make up our skin microbiome, which in turn influence our skin’s immune defence system. (4) Amazing stuff!
Skin health in menopause
Oestrogen plays a part in preventing ageing of the skin by influencing thickness, wrinkles and moisture. It also affects things that are related to the skin, like the hair follicles. As oestrogen drops, so does the skin’s ability to stay thick, prevent wrinkles and keep moist.(5) Many skin sensitivities in menopause occur due to a drop in oestrogen levels. They can include:
Thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls
Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus (thinning and whitening of the skin around the vulva)
Pain around the vaginal area
Excessive growth of hair on the face, chest and back (known as Hirtuism)
Alopecia (thinning or loss of hair on the head or body)
Vaginal candidiasis (candida or yeast overgrowth). (6)
Skin and ageing
The skin goes through many changes as we age. How it changes can depend on factors such as lifestyle, diet, sun exposure, genetic influences and other personal habits, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Changes that occur as we age include:
The number of cells that produce the melanin decreases, so our skin looks thinner, paler and clearer
The blood vessels in the skin become more fragile, leading to bruising and bleeding under the skin
The skin’s connective tissue becomes weaker, giving the skin the appearance of wrinkles, or loss of elasticity
The fat layer under the skin becomes thinner, making us feel colder. (7)
What can we do?
All this sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Don’t despair, there are things that we can do to help our skin to stay healthy as we age.
Oatmeal baths – use a knee-high stocking and add a few tablespoons of oatmeal and ties a knot in the top; add it to the bath as the water runs to create a soothing soak.
Eat well – diet can affect skin health, make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to feed the gut microbiome
Drink plenty of water – dehydration increases the risk of skin injury
Avoid hot showers – hot water can stop the skin from creating oils that it needs to stay moist
Avoid scratching, where possible – try a cold compress to provide relief, and wear gloves to stop scratching, especially at night time
Prevent sunburn – most skin changes are related to sun exposure so make sure to reduce sun exposure. Use the Cancer Councils Guidelines to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Exercise regularly (7, 8)
There are many factors that can contribute to skin health. Whether it is general ageing, menopause or our gut health. If you are concerned about the health of your skin, make sure to consult your healthcare practitioner and one of our Skincare Therapists and Nurse Practitioner at Quay Aesthetics and Spa
1. Tortora GJ & Derrickson B, 2012, Principles of Anatomy & Physiology 13th John Wiley & Sons Inc
2. Misery L et al, 2017, ‘Definition of Sensitive Skin: An Expert Position Paper from the Special Interest Group on Sensitive Skin of the International Forum for the Study of Itch’, Acta Derm Venereol; 97: 4–6, viewed on 21 September 2020
3. Szanto M et al, 2019, ‘Targeting the gut-skin axis – probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management’, Experimental Dermatology, 28 (11):1210-1218, viewed on 22 September 2020,
4. Salem I et al, 2018, ‘The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis’, vol 9 article 1459, vi
5. Verdier-Se´vrain S, et al, 2006, ‘Biology of estrogens in skin: implications for skin aging’, Experimental Dermatology, 15: 83–94, viewed on 22 September 2020
6. Nair P, 2014, ‘Dermatosis associated with menopause’, Journal of Midlife Health, 5(4): 168–175, viewed on 22 September 2020,
7. Martin L, 2018, Ageing changes in the skin, Medline Plus, viewed on 22 September 2020
8. Jay K, 2020, Does Menopause Cause
Itchy Skin? Plus, Tips for Managing Itchiness, Healthline, viewed on 22 September