How does hormone replacement therapy (HRT) affect skin?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the use of hormones to replace estrogen loss during menopause, can improve your skin's structure and appearance. Menopause is the change of life that ends fertility and causes a drop in estrogen levels.

Estrogen helps your skin retain moisture and protects skin from damage, so producing less estrogen can alter your skin. Replacing the estrogen through HRT can make skin more radiant. According to studies, long-term use of HRT after menopause left women with more elastic skin and less harsh wrinkles. 

Researchers have found evidence that the deteriorated lipid barrier present in the skin of postmenopausal women may be significantly improved through the use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT, formerly called HRT or hormone replacement therapy). Because the presence of the hormone estrogen plays a role in determining skin health, a steep decline in estrogen levels, as happens when women enter menopause, can affect skin's appearance and structure. Raising estrogen levels through MHT helps relieve hormonal symptoms and improve the lipid barrier, and a well ordered lipid barrier and can improve skin's appearance through increased water retention. However, be aware that the level of the hormones used in MHT will not be as high as the natural pre-menopausal levels.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Estrogen is known to play a role in many cells in the body including the skin. This is why women experience vaginal dryness and tissue thinning that can cause painful intercourse, itching, irritation and infections. On the surface of skin cells are tiny receptors that have a particular affinity for estrogen and we think it can affect skin cell growth, skin thickness, hair growth, pigmentation, and sebum production, the oily substance that moisturizes skin. In fact estrogen has been studied to see if it can ramp up wound healing. There may be a beneficial effect of hormone replacement therapy on the skin but women should not take it solely for preventing wrinkles or improving its elasticity because this type of medication carries some serious health risks in certain people. Always talk to your doctors about the risk and benefits of medications before taking them.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.