Breakouts are a common experience for women, particularly during times of transition. We all remember dreading pimples during puberty, but no one ever warned us about perimenopausal acne!
Don’t just reach for the scrubs, peels and harsh cleansers that supposedly work on acne! If you’re experiencing breakouts during perimenopause (which we refer to as second puberty), understanding why can help you to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
Why do I get perimenopausal acne?
There are 4 main factors behind breakouts in general: hormone imbalances, abnormal keratinisation, bacterial imbalances on the skin, and chronic inflammation.
Many women have a combination of these factors, but the hormonal issues have the greatest impact on those of us in our 40s and 50s.
Oestrogen and progesterone are generally great for our skin. When you have a regular cycle, your skin (and hair and nails!) are always lovely mid-cycle – this is when these hormones are highest.
Hormonal acne is most often due to a drop in estrogen levels and/or an increase in androgen hormones such as testosterone. Androgens decrease gradually over time, including AFTER menopause. So while oestrogen levels really decrease by the time of menopause, androgens can still be relatively higher than oestrogen at this stage.
What makes it even worse? Luteinising hormone increases during perimenopause and menopause, which increases the androgens.
The higher androgen levels can manifest as:
- Hirsutism (excess growth of darker, coarser hair)
- Androgenetic alopecia (hair loss)
- Stubborn extra layers of fat, particularly around your middle
The higher your testosterone and free androgens, the more sebum (oil) your skin produces. The more sebum, the higher your risk of breaking out.
Other hormonal issues can also feed into this picture – think thyroid dysfunction, high prolactin levels and insulin resistance. Once you combine these with common factors such as stress, dietary changes, poor sleep and other lifestyle changes, it’s a recipe for perimenopausal acne.
The symptoms of hormonal breakouts in perimenopause
The defining characteristic is deep, tender bumps or cysts, mainly around the mouth, chin, and jawline area.
It often comes along with excess facial hair, especially on the chin and upper lip. Again, this goes back to those hormones.
This type of breakout is different to your regular whiteheads or blackheads around your nose and T-section where there is naturally more oil. However, you may also notice that there is an increase of this lately – acne caused by mask-wearing is what is being termed ‘maskne’!
How to kick perimenopausal acne to the curb
Breakouts might be common during this time of life, but you don’t have to suffer through them. There are some simple changes you can make starting today to reduce your breakouts naturally!
Balance your blood sugars
This reduces your inflammation and factors that increase sebum production. Ditch the sugar and processed white carbs for fibre-rich options.
Psst – if you don’t have my balanced meal formula that talks you through this, you can grab a copy via the box at the bottom of this article.
Boost your gut health
A lot of the factors involved in acne tie back to your gut health. Support the elimination of excess hormones by eating plenty of fibre-rich plant foods every day.
You can also support your digestive power by eating mindfully and chewing thoroughly. This means that you get more nutrients out of your food that can help to prevent breakouts!
Drink plenty of fluids
Of course, water is the king of fluids. But you could also look at options that help to balance out your androgens such as spearmint tea. I love nettle leaf, ginger and fennel as a combo to support digestion, reduce inflammation and balancing oestrogen levels.
Add testosterone-balancing ingredients
Yes, there are some specific foods that can help balance out your androgen levels! Think:
- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
- Brussel sprouts
Ditch the harsh skincare
Harsh cleansers are not what your skin needs – they will leave it feeling dry, which increases your risk of damage and scarring! Plus the more you dehydrate your skin of oil, the more your body will produce to counteract it.
Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser and moisturiser. If you can make sure it is free of nasty chemicals, even better! But don’t rely on any one skincare routine to sort out your skin – remember, your skin is simply a reflection of what is going on inside.
If you think you have to put up with breakouts, weight gain and moodiness for the next decade, I’m here to tell you otherwise.
If you’d like your own personalised nutrition & lifestyle plan that helps you ditch the breakouts, feel in control and sail through menopause, you’re in the right place.
Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.