While most women are familiar with the common menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, many are unaware of menopausal effects on the skin. Itchy skin is experience by many women during the menopausal transition. Skin problems during menopause are closely linked with hormonal changes characteristic of this natural period of change.
Skin changes can begin as early as perimenopause, or the time leading up to the cessation of menstrual periods, which can range from 3 to 10 years. Other women may experience skin changes after menopause.
Women who begin to experience dry or itchy skin during menopause are smart to take the time to learn more about this symptom, its causes, and its treatment. Please read on to learn more about itchy skin during menopause.
About Itchy Skin during Menopause
Menopause can often trigger skin changes leading to itchy skin. Itchy skin, medically known as pruritus, can be a major life disruption, especially if it causes significant discomfort and disrupts sleep.
During the stage of menopause, many women also experience acne, thinning skin, wrinkles, and skin pigment changes.
Related to pruritus, paresthesia can also afflict women during the menopausal transition. An abnormal skin condition affecting touch sensation, paresthesia is defined as sensations of numbness, "pins and needles", tingling, and pricking of the skin.
A small percentage of menopausal women report itchy skin symptoms of formication, a specific type of paresthesia, characterized by creepy, crawling sensations on the skin. People with formication have the phantom sensation of ants or other insects crawling on their skin.
Please read on to discover more about the symptoms of itchy skin during menopause.
Itchy skin is a common symptom of menopause. Changes in hormone levels interfere with the production of collagen, an agent that supports skin, and also in the skin's ability to produce moisturizing oils. Itchy skin can be treated with a good moisturizer or balm, through diet, or lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of Itchy Skin
Women who develop itchy skin during menopause can experience symptoms in different ways. Many women report that the elbows and the T-zone of the face are the first places where itchy skin develops. Other women report that certain areas of the skin are particularly dry and itchy, such as the limbs, chest, neck, or the back. Even the nails can be affected by itchy skin during menopause.
In addition to the chief symptom of itchiness, skin changes in menopause can also produce the following symptoms:
• Small bumps on the skin surface
• Red or irritated skin
• Skin rash
• Dry skin
Abnormal touch sensations, such as numbness, tingling, prickling, and crawling, etc.
Now that the possible symptoms of itchy skin have been covered, the next step is to explore the connection between itchy skin and hormones during menopause. Please read on to learn about the causes of itchy skin.
Itchy skin is a common symptom of menopause. Changes in hormone levels interfere with the production of collagen, an agent that supports skin, and also in the skin's ability to produce moisturizing oils. Itchy skin can be treated with a good moisturizer or balm. One can also seek to correct the hormonal imbalance through diet and lifestyle changes.
Causes of Itchy Skin
Acne and Menopause
Some women develop acne during menopause, especially those who had acne in adolescence. Increases in androgen levels during menopause are thought to increase the risk of acne during menopause.
Adult acne often affects the lower face and rarely responds to teen acne treatments.
During menopause, the most common underlying cause of itchy skin is hormonal change. As the body prepares for the cessation of menstruation and egg development during perimenopause, levels of estrogen in the body also fluctuate and eventually begin a steady decline.
Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin. For example, estrogen is responsible for stimulating the production of skin collagen, a fibrous protein that provides strength, resilience, and support to the skin and other tissues.
As estrogen production diminishes around the time of menopause, dry itchy skin becomes a very common symptom. The decline in skin thickness and collagen production appears to be most rapid in the years immediately preceding menopause.
Lowered estrogen levels also decrease the body's ability to retain moisture and slow down the body's production of natural skin oils, which also contributes to itchy skin.
Other rare causes of itchy skin
Medical Causes of
• Fungal infection
• Skin cancer
• Vitamin deficiencies
• Drug side effects
• Drug abuse or
While hormonal changes are the most common cause of itchy skin around the time of menopause, other medical conditions can be responsible for itchy skin. While these are rare causes, they are important to be aware of, particularly in cases where itchy skin is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms.
Women concerned about the causes of itchy skin and those who experience other worrisome symptoms are advised to speak with a qualified dermatologist or other medical professional. Fortunately, itchy skin in menopause can often be successfully managed with self-care and natural treatments. Please read on to learn more about the treatment of itchy skin.
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In the years leading up to menopause, many women report itchy, irritated skin. This is because the changes in hormone production cause a decrease in collagen, the material that helps support and moisturize the skin. A menopausal woman can alleviate itchy skin through lifestyle changes that address the hormonal imbalance, such as eat citrus, eat more fish, avoid smoke and avoid prolonged direct exposure to the sun.
Itchy Skin Treatments
Treating itchy skin during menopause often requires a number of self-care techniques. Most doctors advise against invasive and risky medical or hormonal treatments for itchy skin during menopause. However, many experts recommend that women combine lifestyle changes with alternative medicine, which are often safe and effective in providing itchy skin relief.
Self-Care for Itchy Skin
• Good diet. Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as salmon, walnuts, fortified eggs, sardines, flaxseed, and soy. Adequate vitamin B intake is also crucial to skin health.
• Increase water intake. This will help to hydrate the skin from the inside out.
• Avoid hot showers. Because hot water can be harsh and drying, experts advise taking shorter showers using warm water.
• Moisturize after showers. Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are both excellent and inexpensive skin moisturizers.
• Use gentle, non-irritating soaps.
• Use a quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
• Avoid other triggers. Avoiding cigarettes, excess sun exposure, stress, and poor sleep patterns can also help to manage itchy skin.
Alternative treatments for itchy skin
While these self-care measures can help a woman manage itchy skin during menopause, they alone are unable to get to the root cause of itchy skin during menopause: hormonal imbalance. Fortunately, natural supplements can address this primary problem of hormonal imbalance, helping a woman to treat itchy skin from the inside out. Alternative treatments involve little or no risk and are often simple to use.
Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for itchy skin, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicine, and finally, if those options don't seem to help, medications and surgery. The most effective treatments typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicine.
Itchy skin can distract you all day long, but only if you let it. Read on for information about the home remedies you can try to soothe irritation, from citrus to soy to stress reduction. No matter the underlying cause, these tips may offer relief.
Not many women tend to associate itchy dry skin with menopause, but skin problems are a common complaint of women entering this major life stage. Fortunately, there are steps a woman can take to manage skin irritation during menopause. These steps include avoiding the sun, taking cool showers, and using a good moisturizer.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause." November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007