menopause and itching
By Andrea Donsky | Fact Checked By Andrea Donsky | Sources
Itching is a skin condition that can be uncomfortable and annoying, especially when it is persistent and chronic. In fact, that type of itching is not uncommon among women who are in their perimenopause and menopause years. Let’s explore this irritating symptom and what you can do about it.
What is itching?
Itchy skin is very common and can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Basically, however, itching (pruritus is the medical term) is an irritating, uncomfortable condition that causes you to want to scratch your skin. Although it may sound like a very simple, inconsequential symptom, anyone who has suffered with persistent itching knows how bothersome it can be.
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How is itching associated with menopause?
During the years leading up to menopause and menopause itself, the skin undergoes changes that can result in itchy, dry skin. This has been associated with a dramatic decline in estrogen levels. Because estrogen is involved in the production of the important protein known as collagen, which is a building block for skin, the drop in estrogen levels can result in a loss of collagen and the natural oils that can help the skin stay smooth and moisturized.
When itchy skin strikes during menopause, it usually affects the face, neck, chest, back, and limbs, even inside the ears and genital area. Itchy skin may also be found on your elbows. But there’s more.
Menopause symptoms may also cause skin changes such as acne, rashes, wrinkling, and pigmentation. In rare cases, women report feeling the sensation of pins and needles or numbness on the skin, or even formication, which feels like insects are crawling on your skin.
How can you treat itching naturally?
Itchiness can be calmed using a variety of natural remedies. Here are a few you can try.
Oatmeal. Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and soak in the water for 10 to 15 minutes. The oats help soothe itchy skin. Try these oatmeal baths daily until you experience relief.
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Moisturizer. DIY dry skin remedies are as good or better than commercial brands if you use fresh, natural ingredients. Plain extra virgin olive oil is a great option, as is the following recipe: ½ avocado pureed well and combined with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon raw honey. Apply to your face or other dry area, leave it on for 20 minutes, and then wash off with cool water. There are many other easy recipes to make at home. It’s recommended you always moisturize after bathing or showering.
Vitamin C. This potent antioxidant also helps create collagen, a critical protein found in the skin. Be sure to get plenty of this vitamin from foods (e.g., citrus, bell peppers, melons, kiwi) or supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids. This essential nutrient can improve hydration of the skin by sealing in moisture and help regulate oil production, both of which can benefit dry skin. If you are not a fish eater, then be sure to take an omega-3 supplement. In one study, women who took ½ teaspoon of flaxseed oil every day for 12 weeks experienced nearly a 40 percent increase in skin hydration and their skin was also less rough than those in the placebo group.
Love your skin. Avoid hot showers and baths, as they contribute to dry, itchy skin. Do not scratch: scratching itchy skin just makes it worse. Placing a cool compress over itchy areas can help. Stay hydrated by drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water daily. Limit alcohol use, as it is drying to the skin.
When to see your doctor
If itching continues for three or more days, then you should contact your doctor. He or she may order blood tests, kidney, liver, or thyroid tests to determine if there is an underlying reason for your itchiness, such as psoriasis, eczema, allergies, candida infection, or herpes.
Itchy dry skin during menopause can be managed using natural approaches. Try these remedies and others and remember to love your skin!