Treating menopause-related skin problems naturally

You might have thought you’d left breakouts behind with teenage angst. Then suddenly your skin starts to erupt again. Falling oestrogen levels, which mean that testosterone can be more dominant, are to blame. Stress can also be a trigger. You may notice that your spots cluster around the lower part of your face. They may appear as angry red lumps, rather than ‘pop-able’ pimples and since adult pimples are darker than teen pimples the ensuing discolouration can last a few weeks. Prescription drugs should be your last resort as they won’t help address the real cause of the problem. Try to identify the trigger factors. If it’s stress aim for eight hours sleep a night and take time out each day for meditation, yoga or other forms of relaxation.

The following natural remedies may help keep the blemishes under control:

  • It’s especially important that you include plenty of phytoestrogens in your diet, found in soya, nuts and legumes. Phytoestrogens can help your body control the amount of testosterone circulating in your blood. Vitamin B6, zinc and essential fatty acids have also been shown to be beneficial.
  • If you notice any dietary triggers for acne, avoid those foods. You should also watch your intake of alcohol, sugar, processed food, salt, butter, caffeine, chocolate, fried foods, meat, margarine, wheat, soft drinks and food containing hydrogenated vegetables oils.
  • To ease inflammation or prevent infection, eat lots of garlic. Garlic is a powerful antibiotic. Grate it on your food or take it as a supplement every day. (See Aged Garlic on the Resources Page)
  • Sulphur-rich foods, such as eggs, onions and live yogurt with bifidus and acidophilus bacteria, help to rebalance the bacteria in your gut and can help protect against skin inflammation. You could also take a probiotic (e.g. BioKult), I would not recommend the probiotic drinks as they are often loaded with sugar. 
  • Regular exercise is helpful because it encourages hormonal balance and healthy blood flow to your face to help flush out toxins.
  • Heavy cosmetics and rich moisturisers can clog your pores so use a lighter lotion on your trouble zones. Avoid abrasive scrubs. They do not remove dead skin, but they can cause infection and make acne worse. Never pick or squeeze spots – this can cause scarring.
  • Tea-tree oil has good antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Use it to dab onto your spots. A study conducted by the Department of Dermatology of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, found a 5 per cent solution of tea tree oil was as effective as a 5 per cent solution of benzoyl peroxide for most cases of acne, and had no side effects.
  • Pure aloe vera gel is antibacterial and soothing. Some women find that dabbing it on their acne every day really helps. For angry inflamed spots or acne, witch hazel is cooling and soothing. Dab directly on the acne. Echinacea is one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics. Dab a tincture or cream on the affected skin daily.
  • If your doctor tells you that you have higher than normal androgen (male hormone) levels, the herb saw palmetto can work as an anti-androgen and this can also be helpful for pre-menstrual acne. Perhaps the most helpful herb though is Agnus Castus. Other beneficial herbs include burdock root, red clover and milk thistle which are powerful blood cleansers.
  • Light therapy, which involves shining different types of light on the acne, from UV to simply coloured light can help. Red lights have been shown to open capillaries and boost circulation while blue light closes them. Ask a dermatologist for advice.

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