6 Ways to Tame Itchy Skin

itchy skin during menopause

One of the most annoying and lesser-known signs of the meno years is itchy skin.

It’s so frustrating.

Often we put it down to dryness (which is true in part) or maybe even mozzies. But when there are no bites and it doesn’t let up we start to wonder just what’s going on.

If we do our research the penny may drop; it’s another beast to add to hot flushes, sleeplessness and joint pain. If we don’t have the time or inclination to search for the why’s then we’ll probably just add it the list of annoyances that come with age.

So why does itchy skin happen?

Chronic itchy skin is technically known as ‘pruritus’, and as with most things to do with menopause itchiness is caused by the hormonal changes of perimenopause and our fluctuating levels of estrogen.

One of the most annoying and lesser-known signs of the meno years is itchy skin. It’s so frustrating. Click To Tweet

As you may know, perimenopause occurs six to 13 years (give or take) before actual menopause so it’s a fairly long period of our lives. And when you consider that women spend at least a third of their lifetimes in some stage of the meno years – peri-, menopause and/or post-menopause, it’s worth getting educated.

Menopause and itching

Anyway, let’s get back to that pesky itching and why it happens.

Estrogen is related to many things in our bodies not just our ovaries. One of those is the production of collagen, the protein responsible for plumpness and suppleness of our skin as well as our production of natural skin oils.

Is the penny dropping yet?

Yep, those lowering levels of estrogen mean our skin is producing less collagen so therefore getting thinner and it’s producing less natural oils so it’s becoming drier. Hence itchy skin on our arms, legs, chest, back, butt, wherever really (even the va-jay-jay, sorry ladies).

It’s also why our facial skin changes so much during the meno years.

Though it’s not music to our ears it makes sense really doesn’t it?

What can you do?

I’m a huge fan of coconut oil for lessening these signs. It’s natural, it’s rich and it works.

3. Colloidal oatmeal baths are so soothing and are proven to help with irritated skin. You can buy products with them added (here’s a link) but I always like the natural approach so you could pop some oats in a muslin bag or tea strainer and add it to your bathwater and indulge a nice soak.

4. I’d also recommend taking a vitamin C supplement as it’s a natural antihistamine. It’s also great for skin and our bodies don’t store it. I’m a big fan of Clinicians High Dose Vitamin C Powder.

5. A nutritionally rich, plant-based diet low in processed foods and high in water will also help keep your skin hydrated and supple.

6. A spoonful of extra virgin olive oil, MCT or coconut oil (or pop some evening primrose oil capsules) each morning will also give you a skin-cherishing boost.

Paresthesia

Another relateable sign we should mention here is paresthesia, which is the sensation of tingling, numbness or pins and needs on the skin. You can find out more about it here.

Formication

And there’s also formication which is closely related to paresthesia and is said to feel like insects crawling on the skin. Read about it here.

For very severe signs and paresthesia and formication-like signs, we’d recommend seeing your GP because these could be manifesting for medical reasons and they can run some blood, thyroid, liver and kidney tests to be on the safe side.

Let’s kick that itching to the kerb ladies!

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.