If you’re like a lot of women, without even trying to, you can recall your first period like it was yesterday. From where you were, to the first person you told, several of the details are engraved in your mind.

Now, fast forward to your fifties or later, and your cycle is but a distant memory. Then, you glance in the mirror, and something catches your eye, and….BAM! Just like that, you’ve got another core memory that’s, well, not-so-endearing—your first pimple during menopause.

Yes, you read that right. Menopausal acne is a thing.

Throughout life, there are several moments to remember. For example, your sweet sixteenth and learning to drive in your parents' minivan, graduating from college and landing your first career, and getting married, then finally starting your family were pivotal times you don't easily forget.

Although those are big steps many of us take in our lives, nothing quite prepares women for what to expect during menopause. Seriously, women ages 45 to 50 should receive a “Meno-manual” if you will, that gives us at least an inkling of what we’re in for, especially regarding our skin.

We hear all about the hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain, but for most of us, stubborn acne was NOT on our Menopause Bingo card! So, we’re completely caught off guard when our skin goes haywire as if we don’t have enough going on.

Experiencing Middle-Age Acne? Menopause May Be the Cause

Now, before we go any further, understand that you’re not guaranteed to struggle with acne during menopause. However, if your skin hasn’t had a problematic past, but it’s suddenly developing persistent acne in your late forties or older, menopause is likely the culprit. In fact, about 25% of women in their forties, and 15% of women in their fifties are forced to fight acne regularly.

There are two main factors of menopause that tag team your skin, and the results are maddening:

Hormonal Imbalances

As women age, our feminine hormones, estrogen and progesterone, significantly decrease. Androgen is the male and female hormone which is responsible for body hair and voice inflection. Although androgen levels also typically decrease during menopause, they may increase in some women, triggering hormonal acne.

Reduced Collagen Production

Collagen levels drop drastically during menopause as well, which—SUPRISE—also causes a negative shift in women’s skin health after childbearing years, in particular. Lack of collagen means drier, thinner skin. So, unfortunately, the soft, plump skin you were used to has lost its elasticity, and it’s not as resilient as it was before.

When your hormones are out-of-whack, plus your skin is dry and weak, it's vulnerable to irritation, causing blemishes. Not to mention, hyperpigmentation and fine lines may eventually come along for the ride as well.

So, How Do You Send Menopausal Acne Packing?

If you’re tired of seeing cysts, popping pimples, and dreading dry patches in various areas of your face, you’re not alone. Thankfully, you can minimize your trouble with menopausal acne just by implementing a few lifestyle changes. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but this could mean sacrificing a few of your faves, like processed foods, dairy, and sugar; these are known as “trigger foods,” or those that worsen your skin’s condition even if you were a young sprite without a care in the world, let alone if you’re going through “The Change.” Swap out the juices and sodas for water, and incorporate a lot more fruits, veggies, and whole grains into your diet.

Dealing with hormonal changes and trying to keep your skin healthy (often to no avail) is exhausting and stress-inducing as it is. Engaging in peaceful activities, like meditating and yoga, may help lower your stress levels and lessen your acne troubles as a result.

You can’t talk about reducing stress without mentioning spa facials. Not only are professional facials ideal for your mind, body, and spirit, but they’re also great for addressing annoying skin problems. The deep cleanse, pore extractions, replenishing face masks, and soothing moisturization can be what your skin needs to help it reset and get back on track.

Aggravating Acne Needs Serious Solutions

If you’ve tried it all, and your skin still won’t give you a break, don’t underestimate the power of over-the-counter products, or visiting a dermatologist for a prescription that could put all your menopausal acne worries to rest. Certified estheticians can cleanse and perform topical treatments, however, dermatologists can prescribe cleansers, pills, and more with active ingredients that stop the issue at the source, so you won’t have to do any more guesswork.

Getting monthly facials, taking prescription acne medicine as directed, and staying on top of your at-home skincare every day is the absolute best you can do—and your best is more than enough. Continue to take it one day at a time and be patient; give your skin the chance to heal. While you’re at it, love your skin and take good care of it above all else. Remember: your beauty is way more than skin-deep