Menopause is sometimes responsible for bouts of dry skin, particularly around the mouth, nose areas, as well as internally within the eyes. This dryness can be caused by the hormonal imbalances. During menopause, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels decline and different types of “dryness” can occur.
For example, testosterone maintains the lacrimal gland which produces tears in the eyes and keeps them lubricated. Keep in mind, not only is testosterone responsible for producing tears but it is responsible for nourishing it with lubrication to aid in sight. When testosterone production declines the lacrimal gland fails to work as well, the ocular surface of the eye is exposed to the elements causing dryness. In essence, we need the right amounts of testosterone levels to lubricate the eyes.
Testosterone is to the eyes as estrogen is to the mouth, joints, and skin. Lowered estrogen levels can cause skin dryness as well as affect other areas of the body including joints and of course the dreaded vaginal dryness which can make intercourse painful. Estrogen keeps the vagina moist by producing certain acids that account for vaginal lubrication. With estrogen, the vaginal lining becomes stiff and toughened, which results in uncomfortable sex without the aid of jellies and artificial lubricants. The less estrogen your body produces, the drier your skin becomes.
Your eyes might also become light sensitive, look red, burn, have excessive tearing or feel gritty. Other illness such as arthritis and autoimmune disorders can affect the levels of dryness. In addition, some medications worsen this condition such as beta blockers, codeine, decongestant eye drops such as Visine and decongestants like Sudafed. In some cases you can reduce the level of dry eyes by eating less meat, fried foods and dairy. Eating walnuts with omega 3 fatty acids can protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses outside to reduce evaporation of moisture in the eyes.
The good news is: you can influence the dryness of your eyes, mouth, joints and skin during menopause. First of all, refrain from smoking. We all know that smoking is scientifically proven to speed up menopause in women and worsen its symptoms. Again, get your hormone panels done so you can balance out any significant losses in the three hormones mentioned above.
For dry skin, apply lotion often to keep it silky feeling. Aquaphor is excellent product for dry skin; however its primary ingredient is petrolatum (Vaseline). So if you don’t like that greasy feeling, you won’t like this product. On the other hand, Lubriderm’s Advanced Therapy Lotion for extra dry skin lubricates nicely but runs on the expensive side.
Moisturel is good for hands and general body areas that are scaly and itchy. Keep in mind that dry, patchy, scaly skin can indicate other health issues including anxiety, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, etc. See a doctor if you suspect you have any of these.
As a general rule of thumb, you want products with petrolatum, water, lanolin and/or mineral oil. When you clean your face, leave a little water on your skin and then apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp. Neutrogena’s new Deep Clean Gentle Scrub is a good exfoliant. and Cetaphil is a great cleanser. Apply Chap Stick to your lips to prevent them from chapping, and if they are cracking and sore, use Bag Balm.
Keep oil in your diet, or add it if you are low-fat enthusiast. Good oils include canola, safflower, sunflower, olive and flaxseed – mega-3 oils. Finally, drink plenty of water. This can’t be understated; we all need at least 64 oz a day.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.