Among the lesser known symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is dry itchy skin. For some women this problem begins slowly and spreads everywhere while for others it comes on quickly. What should you know about dry itchy skin and menopause?
What is dry itchy skin?
Dry itchy skin can occur for a number of reasons. If you live in a dry, hot climate or a cold, dry one, then dry itchy skin can be a problem. This symptom also can be associated with use of certain medications, such as blood pressure drugs, cholesterol medications, wrinkle creams, antihistamines, and acne treatments
Other causes of dry itchy skin can include taking hot baths and showers, vitamin D deficiency, central heating, use of harsh soaps or lotions, and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Aging is a factor, as more than 50 percent of older adults have dry skin.
Dry itchy skin generally isn’t serious. It may cause slight to severe flaking or peeling, fine lines or cracks, redness, roughness, and feelings of skin tightness.
What about menopause and dry itchy skin?
When levels of estrogen begin to decline during perimenopause, the impact of this hormone on the ability to stimulate the formation of collagen and oils also declines. As the hormone ratios also change, the body begins to lose some of its ability to retain moisture in the skin and gets thinner as well.
As skin becomes drier and less elastic during the menopause years, you may become more sensitive to lotions, soaps, detergents, and other products that may touch your skin.
This combination of events can result in itchy dry skin in various patches or just about anywhere on the body, including your nails. Get used to it: the skin changes are here to stay, but you can do something about reducing the itchy and dryness.
How to treat dry itchy skin in menopause naturally
Here are a few tips on how to treat dry itchy skin naturally.
- Choose healthy fats. The omega-3 essential fatty acids found in sardines, flaxseeds, salmon, walnuts, and algae oils assist in the body in producing the oil barrier that helps keep your skin hydrated. Include healthy fats in your diet daily.
- Avoid hot water. Hot baths and showers worsen dry skin. Use warm or cool water whenever possible.
- Moisturize. Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering. Your skin should be slightly damp when you apply a cream or ointment. Lotions are more irritating. Use a cream or ointment that contains natural jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, or coconut oil.
- Avoid fragrances. Choose fragrance-free skin care products and laundry soaps.
- Try oatmeal. Bathing in a warm (not hot) bath with colloidal oatmeal can alleviate itchy skin. This fine powder helps soften and soothe the skin.
- Use a cool compress. A wet, cool compress applied to an itchy area can provide some relief.
- Layer. Choose non-irritating clothing such as silk or cotton under wool or other material that may bother your skin.
- Humidify. Add moisture to the air in your bedroom or office by using a stand-alone humidifier or add one to your heating system.
- Avoid direct heat. Don’t sit in front of a direct heating source, such as a fireplace or heater. It can make dry skin worse.
When to see a doctor
If your itchy dry skin becomes excessive and is affecting your quality of life, you may need a prescription cream or ointment. In some cases, very dry skin or a rash may indicate a more serious condition. In these cases, see a dermatologist for an examination and explanation.
Dry itchy skin is a common occurrence during perimenopause and menopause. Postmenopausal women can expect to experience these skin changes as well. You can try several natural remedies and lifestyle choices to minimize the dryness, flaking, and itchiness