5 Ways to Treat Dry Skin After Menopause

woman thinks about how to treat dry skin after menopause

One way skin changes after menopause is it becomes dryer. The medical term for dry skin is xerosis and it's one of the most common complaints that dermatologists deal with and treat.

What causes dry skin? When the outer layer of the epidermis of the skin, called the stratum corneum, loses too much water, the skin becomes drier and flakier. Anything that disrupts this outer layer, such as harsh cleansers, chemicals, hot water, and low humidity, can trigger dry skin. Not only is dry skin not pleasing to look at, but it can also be flaky and itchy.

Dry Skin After Menopause

Not surprisingly, dry skin becomes much more common after menopause. What can you do to control dry skin after menopause? Let’s look at 5 ways that are effective for many women and are also dermatologist approved.

Moisturize - Look for the right ingredients

A quality moisturizer is a key to keeping your skin hydrated. For dry skin, an ointment or cream works better due to its added texture and thickness. Effective moisturizers contain occlusive substances that shield the skin against water loss, emollients for softening the skin, and humectants that draw water onto the skin. An example of an occlusive and emollient is lanolin, although some people are sensitive to it. An alternative is petrolatum. Examples of humectants are glycerin, urea, alpha-hydroxy acids, and lactic acid. The latter two also have a modest exfoliating effect that improves skin texture. The most effective moisturizers will have a combination of these ingredients.
For best results, use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. If all-natural is your thing, look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients, some of which were mentioned above, that soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
Apply your moisturizer while your skin is still wet. Then, if you’re going out, apply sunscreen for protection against ultraviolet light, the main cause of skin aging. Make sure the products you use contain no added fragrances or alcohol that will dry out your skin or that your skin could react to.
Don’t neglect your hands either. Apply a hand cream every time you wash your hands and avoid washing them in hot water or exposing your hands to detergent or harsh chemicals. If you have to work with substances that could dry out your hands, wear a pair of work gloves for added protection.

Cleanse Properly

How you cleanse dry skin can make a big difference in how your skin looks and feels. Never use hot water on dry skin as it will only dehydrate and irritate your skin more. Use lukewarm water. Be gentle when you dry your skin too. Use a soft towel, not a rough washcloth that will irritate the skin. Avoid using abrasive or exfoliating cleansing pads are these are too harsh and irritating for dry skin. How about the skin on your body? The same applies. Don’t make your bath or shower water too hot and limit showers and baths to no longer than 10 minutes. Exposing your skin to water longer will further dry it out. It’s better to gently blot your skin with a towel when you dry off. Avoid rubbing areas that are dry or sensitive.
Choose your cleanser with care. Invest in a high quality cleanser from a professional line such as Obagi or SkinCeuticals, specifically developed and proven for aging skin.

Moisturize Your Skin from the Inside

Although using a moisturizer consistently will go far toward easing dry skin, what you put into your body matters too. Research shows that getting more essential fatty acids in your diet is beneficial for dry skin. Good sources of essential fatty acids include fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, olive oil, seeds, flax, walnuts, and chia. These healthy fats help to nourish your skin from the inside out. In fact, one sign of an essential fatty acid deficiency is dry skin.

Keep Your Environment Moist

If your house or living environment has low humidity, it will worsen dry skin. Invest in a humidifier that will keep the humidity between 30 to 60%. This is vital during the winter months when the air is dry. Have you ever noticed how your skin feels dryer in the winter? It’s not your imagination, as the lower humidity draws water from your skin. Therefore, when you step out of the house in cold weather, cover your face with a protective scarf, especially if the wind is blowing.

Check Your Thyroid

An underactive thyroid gland is quite common in women after menopause and guess what one of the signs is? Dry skin! Many women have an underactive thyroid gland and don’t even know it. Although dry skin is common and not always due to a sluggish thyroid, it’s something to consider. Other signs of a slow thyroid include hair loss, eyebrow thinning, weight gain, feeling tired or mentally slow, constipation, and mood changes, particularly depression. Fortunately, a simple blood test can tell you whether you have it.

Now you know 5 ways to treat dry skin after menopause. Be consistent and you should see results over time.

Menopause or mid-life is a good time to re-evaluate your current skin care regimen. It’s probably time for an upgrade!


American Academy of Dermatology. “Thyroid Disease: A Checklist of Skin, Hair, and Nail Changes

Harvard Health Publishing. “Moisturizers: Do They Work?

University of Rochester Medical Center. “Dry Skin

Kawada, C., Yoshida, T., Yoshida, H. et al. Ingested hyaluronan moisturizes dry skin. Nutr J 13, 70 (2014).

You might also enjoy