Suddenly noticed you’re scratching all the time? Itchy skin is a little-known symptom of menopause – but we have some simple, practical tips to cool it!
Why can menopause cause itchy skin?
Skin changes of various kinds are common at menopause. That’s because the hormone oestrogen is important for overall skin health. It stimulates production of collagen, the substance that keeps skin supple and elastic, and also triggers the production of the oils that help make skin smooth. So when estrogen falls around menopause, you may notice some skin symptoms. The drop in oils and collagen can cause skin to become thinner and drier, and for some women, this can result in itchiness and discomfort. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to improve it.
How to soothe itching skin
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
Even if you’ve never bothered before, you’ll probably find it makes a big difference now, flooding your skin with moisture and helping to compensate for some of the oils that have been lost. Get into the habit of slathering on thick, rich creams every day after your bath or shower.
Have a skincare audit
Some women find that products they’ve used for years suddenly cause a reaction. As skin is thinner and drier, it may become more sensitive to ingredients in skincare products such as alcohol and perfume, causing itchiness and irritation. You’ll have to experiment to see what works for your skin now, but as a general rule, going for mild products without perfume is the way forward – and think creamy and rich when it comes to texture. Lots of women find they need to avoid soaps, scrubs and harsh cleansers.
Heat is likely to irritate your skin, so finding ways to cool and calm it can be helpful. Avoid having very hot showers and baths – aim for tepid water if possible.
Talk to your pharmacist
Your pharmacist might be able to suggest some other solutions, too, such as topical lotions to help prevent itching.
Choose soft fabrics
Think about the materials you put next to your skin. Wool may irritate it, while synthetic fibres can cling and make you hot, which may further aggravate itching. Choose light, natural materials such as cotton, bamboo and silk. The same goes for towels – make sure they’re soft, and pat rather than rubbing yourself dry – and bed linen. It’s all about being ultra-gentle with your sensitive menopausal skin.
This is a basic building block of healthy skin. Drink plenty of fluids – around 1.5 litres daily, including water, teas, plant milks and low-fat milk – and avoid alcohol and cigarettes, which can parch the skin.
Time to see the doctor?
If these steps don’t help, or itching is very severe or persistent, book an appointment with your doctor. There could be a range of other causes, including allergies, and you may need a doctor’s help to get to the root cause.
by Charlotte Haigh; Reviewed by Dr Rachel Hines