Estrogen deficiency following menopause results in atrophic skin changes and acceleration of skin aging. Estrogens significantly modulate skin physiology, targeting keratinocytes, fibroblasts, melanocytes, hair follicles and sebaceous glands, and improve angiogenesis, wound healing and immune responses. Estrogen insufficiency decreases defense against oxidative stress; skin becomes thinner with less collagen, decreased elasticity, increased wrinkling, increased dryness and reduced vascularity. Its protective function becomes compromised and aging is associated with impaired wound healing, hair loss, pigmentary changes and skin cancer.
Skin aging can be significantly delayed by the administration of estrogen. This paper reviews estrogen effects on human skin and the mechanisms by which estrogens can alleviate the changes due to aging. The relevance of estrogen replacement, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and phytoestrogens as therapies for diminishing skin aging is highlighted. Understanding estrogen signaling in skin will provide a basis for interventions in aging pathologies.