Dry skin, brittle nails and hair loss

Changes in levels of estrogen in perimenopause and during menopause can cause your skin to change. It may become dry and flaky and you may notice wrinkles and other signs of skin aging. Nails and hair are also likely to become dry and brittle.1

The effect of fewer estrogens

The female hormone estrogen encourages the production of collagen and ceramides, the skin's own fats, that keep your skin firm and elastic. As your estrogen production decreases, the quantity of collagen in your skin also decreases. So it's no surprise that women around the age of 50 are often bothered by less elasticity, wrinkles and changes in the quality of their skin.

Your skin also becomes drier and can start to itch. Ceramides regulate moisture. So fewer ceramides mean that your skin is less able to retain moisture. Your nails and hair can become dry and brittle due to the decrease in estrogen

Tips for preventing dry skin and brittle nails and hairduring menopause

  • Don't take long, hot showers. They may feel good, but they can wash away the natural fats in your skin. Keep it short and use warm not hot water. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it. Apply a nourishing oil or cream immediately after your shower or bath to hydrate skin and replenish the lipd layer.
  • It's preferable not to use soap. Soaps can irritate the skin and remove the protective lipid layer of fat causing your skin to dry out.
  • Get regular exercise. You will be providing your skin with oxygen and the nutrients that help retain collagen. In addition, exercise helps your skin get rid of waste substances.
  • Get enough sleep. While you sleep, your skin recovers and repairs itself and it creates collagen.
  • Eat oily fish, nuts and soya, for essential fatty acids that help keep your skin hydrated.
  • Zinc is important for healthy skin, hair and nails. Zinc can be found in meat, cheese, grain products, nuts and in shellfish such as shrimps and mussels.1,2
  • Eating foods rich in iron 1,2 (liver, eggs, red kidney beans) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries) can help restore dry nails and hair.
  • Drink enough water. You need at least 1.5 to 2 L of water every day. Being properly hydrated will help skin, hair and nails stay strong.
  • Be moderate with your intake of coffee and alcohol. These are diuretic and draw moisture from your body which can exacerbate the symptoms of menopause.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking ages the skin. It can also discolor your skin and dry it out.

References

1.Goluch-Koniuszy, Z. S. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Prz. Menopauzalny 15, 56–61 (2016)
2. Rushton, D. H. Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clin Exp Dermatol 27, 396–404 (2002)

Want to learn how to cope with other symptoms? Get expert advice for the most prevalent menopausal complaints.