Related Topics: Features, Menopause, skin

Is Itchy Skin a Menopause Symptom?

There’s no doubt you know when you have got it, but just what is causing that itch?

AnnA Rushton

This is certainly a very common question at Menopause and the answer is yes it may be, I know it may be something else.

I realise that is not particularly helpful, but below you will find some possible reasons why your skin is itching and a lot of it will be dependent on your hormone balance and your lifestyle and diet.

What is it?

Feeling itchy can be both uncomfortable and often distressing, and can come on suddenly.

Maybe doing the shopping, pottering around the house or visiting friends when suddenly that itch starts. It may just be low level and annoying, or suddenly your whole body feels as if it’s on fire.

It can happen anywhere on the body:   face, neck, arms, legs, scalp or even in the genital area.Not only itchy, but you can get hot and your clothes can make it worse.

If you are truly unfortunate you can be afflicted by a condition that’s very, very similar and it’s called formication.

Why unfortunate? Because this feels like tiny ants are crawling up the inside of the skin. With this one, you don’t get any of the tell-tale spots, or blotches, or rashes. It’s just this constant itch that you can feel underneath the skin.

So what can cause or make itchy skin worse?

Your hormones

The first one is that as your oestrogen starts to fall, this can have quite a big impact on your skin for various reasons.

It can decrease the production of collagen and that is what keeps your skin nice and supple, and reasonably thick. It also decreases the production of skin moisturising oils that your skin produces.

So, when you get a combination of thinner skin and drier skin, this is going to be much more prone to itching and irritation.

Stress

If we’re under a lot of stress, which the menopause puts us under whether we like it or not, and we then have day-to-day stress, we can end up producing a chemical called histamine.

Histamine is inflammatory and that can very often cause the skin to itch. You might suddenly find that your skin goes red, and then it starts to itch and get very uncomfortable. So very often, these little patches are caused by histamine.

If this happens a lot, then write down what you’ve eaten and been drinking before this happens because very often, there is a link to something else when this particular type of itchy skin happens.

Sun exposure 

If your skin is thinner, you’re going to be less protected from strong sunlight.

At menopause you may find go on holiday and your skin burns a lot easier or get hives or urticaria (red, raised, itchy bumps) for the first time in your life.

Often it’s just because the skin is a lot thinner and a lot more reactive to sunlight.

Skin products

It could be your soaps, body washes, body lotions or shower gels. It can even be your washing powder or fabric conditioner.

If your skin is thinner and much more sensitive, it may start to react to things that have never been a problem for you before. These are things that we often overlook, but they can be common irritants.

Hot water

Again, if your skin is more sensitive, then having a hot shower or lying in a hot bath for a long time can cause the skin to become more sensitive.

Sweating

If at menopause you’re getting a lot of hot flushes and sweats, especially in the area where there are folds of skin, such as under the breasts, under the arms or between the legs then this ca definitely cause itching.

If you start to sweat and then there’s no cooling down to these areas because the air doesn’t get to it, then you might find that you start to get rashes and itchy skin there too.u

What helps?

Once you have tracked down the course, and where possible eliminated it, there is certainly some things just that you can certainly try that can be of benefit.

Boost your omega 3’so

Look at your essential fatty acids, so these are omega-3, which is from fish. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can go for flaxseed oil, and there is omega-7, which you can get from sea buckthorn oil.

Now, both of these are great for the skin, so if you’re having even dryness, never mind the itchiness, then the sea buckthorn and the flaxseed oil can be very soothing. You take these internally rather than just putting them onto the skin.

Increase your water intake 

If your skin is getting drier and thinner, then dehydration is going to be a big factor, so remember to drink plenty of water every single day.

Also, if you are getting a histamine reaction from the nervous system, then dehydration is often a big part of that because if you’re dehydrated, the body finds it much more difficult to eliminate histamine.

Sun protection

If you’re going out in the sun, just make sure that you are wearing a good level of sunscreen or stay covered up, wearing loose clothing to make sure you don’t get burned.

Natural antihistamines

The most commonly used are nettle (in a tea or tincture), quercetin (found in onions and apples) and bromelain – found in pineapples.

These can help calm and cool things down, and as supplements can be found in your health store

Helpful information:

It is certainly one of them or frustrating aspects of Menopause, and if it is hormone balance that might be the issue it is helpful to remember that progesterone is an anti-inflammatory as well as helping with other menopause symptoms.

6 Ways to Minimise Itchy Skin At Menopause

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Please feel free to discuss this article in the comments section below, but note that the author cannot respond to queries made there.
Comments 3
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Susan Carroll | 3:24 pm, July 27th, 2020

I am at perimenopausal stage and have experienced this extreme itching. I now moisturise twice a day with grapeseed oil, and have been free of the itch for several months. I know the solution won’t always be this simple but it is worth a try.

Maria Jasmine Freeman | 1:06 pm, July 23rd, 2020

Well said, overall. What is missing though, herein and often elsewhere, is that itching during menopause, especially formication, stems most significantly from hypersensitive nerve endings. Estrogen is known to regulate nerve transmission from our brains, thus depletion of this hormone results in transmission dysregulation reflected in inappropriate nerve endings response to stimuli, causing all sorts of itching sensations. Also any area in the body is not exempted from itching; even your head could feel deeply itchy while no apparent external lesions are evident.
Dr Hana Fayyad

Sue Brettell | 1:40 pm, July 15th, 2020

AnnA, thank you, this has given me a different perspective. I thought the intense all-over itching I developed about five years ago was connected to my allergies and stress. I also have dermagraphic urticaria (where the skin reacts to minor pressure – such as a comb or brush down the neck – with red wheals). It makes sense to me that it’s all connected to hormonal changes and skin-thinning.

I have been using Serenity pre- during and post-menopause. I avoided the worst of menopausal symptoms without putting myself more at risk of breast cancer (my sister and cousin were both victims). However, nothing can stave off the effects of ageing entirely!!

Antihistamine tablets are not an option for me due to my lactose intolerance. The pricey branded liquid alternative offered for small children is disgustingly sweet with an ersatz banana flavour that I don’t recommend. However, I have found immense relief in a simple remedy that might be helpful to others.

Ask at your pharmacy counter – I get it from Sainsbury’s – for Cetirizine Liquid. They’ll try to give you the branded yuck but you have to insist on the generic product. It’s much cheaper and does the trick.

I find one spoon every two or three days is enough, so I’m not talking high drug dependency here! It doesn’t make me drowsy but I take at night just in case.

I hope that might help to save some readers a lot of discomfort!

 
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