Menopause itching is one of the 34 signs of menopause. If you have dry, crawly, itchy skin you could be experiencing this symptom. Here’s why…
As your body prepares for the cessation of menstruation and ovulation during perimenopause, hormones fluctuate and begin a steady decline. As estrogen plays a key role in maintaining healthy skin this decline causes itchy and dry/crawly skin.
Perimenopause is the period of time in your life when physiological changes take place which begin the transition to menopause.This period of time can be anywhere between 2-10 years (with an average of 4 before your “final period”. You are considered to have reached menopause when you have not had a menstrual period for a 12 months.
Estrogen is responsible for stimulating the production of skin-smoothing collagen and oils. Collagen is a fibrous protein that provides, strength, resilience and support to the skin and other tissues.
The decline in skin thickness and collagen production appears to be most rapid in the years immediately preceding menopause, perimenopause.This decline in estrogen and other hormone shifts in your body don’t just slow down your body’s oil production, they also reduce your body’s ability to retain moisture.
This symptom also seems to correlate with episodes of hot flushes and night sweats.
Around the time of perimenopause and menopause many women also experience acne, thinning skin, pigment changes and wrinkles.
Symptoms of Itchy Skin
- Small bumps on the skin surface
- Red or irritated skin
- Skin rash
- Dry skin
- Abnormal touch sensations such as numbness, tingling, crawling and prickling
Itchy skin (Pruritis) can be a major life disruption especially if it causes discomfort and/or disrupts sleep.
Parethesia is related to pruritis and can also afflict women during the menopause transition. Parethesia is defined as sensation of numbness, “pins and needles” tingling and prickling.
Formication is a specific type of parathesia, characterized by creepy, crawly sensation on the skin. It can cause a phantom sensation of ants or other insects crawling on the skin.
Non Hormonal Causes of Menopause Itching and Dry Skin
- Skin Cancer
- Drug side effects
- Nutritional issues
- Allergies and skin reactions
- Other skin conditions
- Vitamin deficiencies
Diet – include essential fatty acids – like Omega 3 found in sardines, salmon, soy, safflower, flax, walnuts and fortified eggs. This will help to produce your skin’s oil barrier which is essential for keeping your skin hydrated.
Sunscreen – keep your skin health with a broad spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher. Avoid tanning beds.
Avoid hot showers and baths – they may feel wonderful but hot water strips your skin of its natural oils.Take shorter showers in warm water.
Avoid scented, antibacterial soaps – they can be harsh and remove your body’s essential oils leaving your skin even more itchy and dry.
Moisturise – after showering lather yourself in a moisturiser of your choice. Petroleum jelly and mineral oil are some of the best as they are able to moisturise even the driest of skin. To assist moisturisers to penetrate you need to take off a layer of dead skin by exfoliating regularly. Gently scrub or use products containing alpha or beta-hydroxy acids.
Remember to hydrate from the inside out by drinking plenty of water.
Eliminate or reduce your intake of alcohol and nicotine, both of which can prematurely age and dry your skin.
For dry skin on the face – experts suggest topical antioxidants such as vitamin C or green tea. Also recommended are shea butter, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid products.
Menopause Itching Treatments
• Over the counter medication such as antihistamines will bring some relief.
• Hormonal balancing through therapies such as hormone replacement therapy HRT, if this is an option for you.
• Hormonal balancing through natural menopause solutions.
• Menopause supplements are a good way of ensuring that your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs during menopause.
Hutchinson, Susan M.D. “The Stages of a Woman’s Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause.” November 2007.