, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 371-378

Skin Aging and Menopause

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Abstract

The skin is one of the largest organs of the body, which is significantly affected by the aging process and menopause. The significant changes sustained by the skin during the menopause are due to the effect sustained on the skin’s individual components.

The estrogen receptor has been detected on the cellular components of the skin. Accordingly, dermal cellular metabolism is influenced by the hypoestrogenoemic state of menopause leading to changes in the collagen content, alterations in the concentration of glycoaminoglycans and most importantly the water content. Consequently changes in these basic components leads to an alteration in function compatible with skin aging.

Changes in the skin collagen leads to diminished elasticity and skin strength. Collagen content may be measured by various methods such as direct skin biopsy, skin blister assessment for collagen markers and skin thickness measurement. All these variables indicate a reduction in collagen content following menopause. This may be reversed with the administration of estrogen given both topically and systemically.

A reduction in hydrophilic glycoaminglycans leads to a direct reduction in water content, which influences the skin turgor. These effects on glycoaminoglycans, due to the hypoestrogenia, have been clearly shown in animal studies and appeared to be rapidly reversed with the application of estrogens. The sum total of these basic effects on the skin leads to wrinkles, the skin condition typifying skin aging.

Structures resident in the skin are likewise influenced by menopause. Changes to the cutaneous vascular reactivity are noted following menopause. Capillary blood flow velocity decreases significantly in postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal flushing is due to profound vasodilatation in the dermal papillae. Hair growth is also influenced by the hormonal milieu and consequently hair loss has been associated with the beginning of menopause.

Treatments administered for menopause, in particular hormone replacement therapy, appear to alter its effects on the basic components of the skin as well as the more complex structures residing in the skin, consequently retarding the skin aging process.