How hormones make your skin more sensitive

My Hormonology

How hormones make your skin more sensitive


Ever get an itchy rash out of the blue? Or notice that a cosmetic or skin treatment (such as an acne wash or anti-wrinkle cream) that you’ve been using for awhile suddenly causes redness or burning when it never did before? Or are bothered by other skin issues that seem to flare up, then subside—only to flare up again weeks later?

Your problem may be that your skin gets more sensitive during certain days of your menstrual cycle or as you go through perimenopause or menopause, according to a 2017 study in the European Journal of Dermatology.(1)

This research found that about 42% of premenopausal women (those with menstrual cycles) in the study experienced an increase in skin sensitivity on the days right before and during menstruation.

And, nearly 32% of perimenopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women said they experienced greater skin issues overall compared with when they had regular cycles.

Body parts with the most skin troubles

More sensitive skin means your skin is more likely to react to cosmetics, detergents, weather, shaving or stress, resulting in a rash, bumps, pimples, redness, dryness, itching, scaling and other bothersome issues.

This sensitivity can occur anywhere on your body. However, this study found that the most common problem area reported in cycling women was the face.

For women who are perimenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal, their most common problem area was the feet.

Why do hormones make your skin sensitive?

So, what’s causing your skin to be more sensitive in the days around your period or the years leading up to and following menopause? Low estrogen.

This hormone plays a role in thickening the skin’s outer layer, which helps provide a stronger barrier between you and problematic allergens and irritants.

This hormone also improves moisture content in skin and speeds wound healing by prompting higher collagen production.

So, when estrogen dips, all its protective effects dip with it, leaving your skin more vulnerable.

What to do about hormone-related skin issues?

When estrogen is low, try using cosmetics, moisturizers and detergents that are fragrance-free and don’t have many chemicals. Keep your skin shielded from harsh weather. And, ask your dermatologist or pharmacist for recommendations of products or medications that may help protect your skin.

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(1)b”Sensitive skin and the influence of female hormone fluctuations: results from a cross-sectional digital survey in the Dutch population”, European Journal of Dermatology, January-February 2017,

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