- you suddenly itch everywhere – mostly at night. Your back, legs, chest, and stomach end up with what looks like hives
- a burning, tingling itch from your head to your toes and everywhere in between …that drives you crazy
- itching in your armpits or palms or bottom of your feet
- you cant stop scratching your arms or legs or back or neck
- vaginal itching where you cant stop scratching “down there”
- itching that is so severe that you scratch your skin until it is raw
Itchy skin is a common symptom during menopause. During menopause, the most common underlying cause of it is hormonal change. Hormone changes play havoc with your skin during menopause.
The hormone most associated with itchy and dry skin is estrogen. Low estrogen levels are the cause of itchy skin during menopause. Estrogen normally plays a vital role in maintenance of healthy skin. Most importantly, it plays a role in the production of collagen which is a form of protein that gives strength to all body tissues including the skin. Decreased estrogen therefore impairs this important process. Furthermore, low estrogen levels reduce the body’s intrinsic ability to retain moisture and also impairs the production of natural skin oils. The result is dry and itchy skin.
There is a medical term for dry itchy skin. It is called pruritus. Pruritus is an uncomfortable and unpleasant sensation on your skin that causes the need to scratch to maintain comfort. This feeling can also be a burning or stinging sensation and can appear anywhere on your body in spots or a generalized area. It can be extremely disruptive because the more you itch, the more you scratch.
Many women report that the elbows and the T-zone of the face are the first places where itchy skin develops during menopause. It often leads to dry itchy skin appearing just about anywhere on your body, from your head to your toes. It can affect your scalp, face, neck, chest, back, arms, arm pits, elbows, hands, vagina, anus, legs, feet … even nails.
Suggestions about how to beat itchy skin
As hormone imbalance is the cause of all menopause symptoms, not just skin that itches, it would be advisable to get your hormone levels tested. You will then be in a position to take steps to re-balance them.
Some doctors believe that topical treatment with vitamin A creams, such as Retin-A and Renova, can have some effect on itchy skin by rebuilding collagen. Even though some women report that these products reduce flakiness of the skin, they can cause skin irritation. Irritation aggravates the itching condition. These products are best avoided.
Your personal care routines play a part in keeping your skin irritant free
- Avoid taking hot showers or baths. Hot water can be harsh and can have a drying affect on the skin. Use warm water instead
- Use an unscented soap when taking a shower or bath or washing your body.
Scented, antibacterial, or deodorant soaps can be harsh, removing your body’s essential oils, leaving skin even more itchy and dry
- Exfoliate your skin by gently brushing it
- Moisturize your skin. Petroleum jelly is one of the best. It helps to trap moisture and keep it in the skin
- Protect your skin with a good quality broad spectrum sunblock, with an SPF of 15 or higher. This will prevent further damage to your skin and will prevent drying
It is advisable to increase your daily intake of water. This will help to hydrate your skin form the inside out.
The best nutritional advice is to base your diet around real food, not processed food. Specifically, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, fortified eggs, and flaxseed. Adequate vitamin B intake is also crucial to skin health. Some foods rich in vitamin B include beef, turkey, bananas, potatoes, brazil nuts and legumes.
Now you can take the steps to end your own itch – scratch – itch torment.