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Menopause Itching: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention

Menopause is a natural condition defined as a permanent stop of menstruation due to decline in ovarian follicular activity. Some factors like surgery, infection, hormonal defects, toxins, lack of nutrients and socioeconomic factors are also responsible to trigger the condition at an early stage. [1]

Menopause due to hormonal changes usually cause symptoms like itchy skin, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and night sweats. Pruritus or itching is the main symptom during menopause due to insufficient production of the lubricants, causing the vagina to dry out and the tissues nearby to get thinner and more sensitive and fragile. [2]

Causes Of Menopause Itching

Oestrogen in the body has numerous functions. It is vital for the healthy functioning of the female reproductive system as well as for the production of natural body oils and collagen, which prevents the skin from getting drier and sensitive. The natural lubricants of the vagina help to keep the vagina moist and protect it from infections. A total of 90% of the oestrogen hormone is produced in the ovaries while the rest is produced in fat, kidney and liver. [3]

As women age or reaches the menopausal age (45-60), the effectiveness of ovaries declines causing a decrease in the production of this essential hormone. Due to depletion in the level of oestrogen, areas which have high oestrogen receptors like face, genitals and lower limbs get affected more making the skin itchy and dry.

Other causes of menopause itching include allergies, insect bites, smoking, hot showers, anxiety and alcohol abuse.

Affect Of Menopause On The Skin

Menopause causes many types of skin changes which are as follows: [4]

  • Rash: It takes place when the skin becomes sensitive to temperature during menopause due to the fall in oestrogen level. This causes a sudden sensation of hot flashes making the face go blushed or red.
  • Thinning hair: The less production of oestrogen makes the skin brittle and thinner. The condition becomes worse when the skin is not managed by sunscreen or other UV protective creams.
  • Facial hair: Due to hormonal changes during the menopause, the level of oestrogen declines. This results in the growth of facial hairs mainly near the jawline or upper lip.
  • Dry skin: As oestrogen helps to retain the moisture in the tissues, a decrease of which causes the skin prone to dryness. Use of traditional soaps is best suggested during the time.

Diagnosis Of Menopause Itching

Itching is common, however, if the symptoms prevail for more than three days, it needs immediate attention. Some of the common tests suggested during the menopause itching are x-rays, blood tests and thyroid or liver tests.

Home Remedies For Menopause Itching

No doubt, home remedies are the best and the easiest way to prevent menopause itchiness. Some of the common home remedies for menopause itching are as follows:

1. Moisturizer: Skin moisturizer is essential to lock the moisture after a bath in the outer layer of the skin. Natural moisturizers like coconut oil and aloe vera hydrate the skin and act as a lubricating film thus, preventing the skin from getting dry and itchy. [5]

How to use: Pour a few drops of coconut oil with an aloe vera gel and apply it all over the body immediately after the bath.

2. Oatmeal bath: Colloidal oatmeal is a finely ground form of oatmeal. It enables the skin to absorb the fibre and cellulose present in oatmeal and stay soft for a longer period. [6]

How to use: Add some amount of oatmeal powder in the bathtub containing lukewarm water. Soak in the tub for at least 10 minutes and then pat the skin dry. Remember to not use too much hot water.

3. Vitamin C: This essential vitamin helps in the production of collagen and repairing the damaged tissues. When taken, it prevents the skin from getting dry and itchy. [7]

How to use: Take an oral supplement of vitamin C or eat foods that contain an abundance of this particular vitamin.

4. Cool compress: This is the fastest and the easiest ways to get relief from itchiness caused due to menopause. It also helps ease swelling and rashes in the vaginal area. [8]

How to use: Fill a plastic bag or ice bag with ice or cold water. Place it over the affected skin and hold until the itchiness goes. Repeat when needed.

Medicinal Treatment For Menopause Itching

Though home remedies are the easiest ways to treat a condition, most of the time medicinal treatment is considered as it is fast and effective. Common medical treatment methods are as follows:

1. Corticosteroids: It is used to reduce inflammation and ease itchiness and redness present in the body.

2. Over-the-counter anti-itch creams: Such creams are used to soothe itchy skin and reduce inflammation. Anti-itch creams with at least 1% of hydrocortisone are considered the best for the treatment.

3. Hormone replacement therapy: They are considered only after a proper recommendation from a medical expert. It is a type of therapy used to treat the symptoms of menopause.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid hot showers
  • Avoid using harsh soaps for bathing
  • Moisturize your skin after the bath
  • Don't scratch the itchy areas
  • Keep fingernails trimmed
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Sleep well and timely
  • Exercise daily
View Article References
  1. [1] Peacock K, Ketvertis KM. Menopause. [Updated 2019 Nov 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  2. [2] Santoro, N., Epperson, C. N., & Mathews, S. B. (2015). Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America, 44(3), 497–515. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.001
  3. [3] Nair P. A. (2014). Dermatosis associated with menopause. Journal of mid-life health, 5(4), 168–175. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.145152
  4. [4] Bolognia, J. L., Braverman, I. M., Rousseau, M. E., & Sarrel, P. M. (1989). Skin changes in menopause. Maturitas, 11(4), 295-304.
  5. [5] Hon, K. L., Kung, J., Ng, W., & Leung, T. F. (2018). Emollient treatment of atopic dermatitis: latest evidence and clinical considerations. Drugs in context, 7, 212530. doi:10.7573/dic.212530
  6. [6] Michelle Garay, M. S., Judith Nebus, M. B. A., & Menas Kizoulis, B. A. (2015). Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. Journal of drugs in dermatology, 14(1), 43-48.
  7. [7] Wang, K., Jiang, H., Li, W., Qiang, M., Dong, T., & Li, H. (2018). Role of Vitamin C in Skin Diseases. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 819. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00819
  8. [8] Patel, T., & Yosipovitch, G. (2010). Therapy of pruritus. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy, 11(10), 1673–1682. doi:10.1517/14656566.2010.484420
Story first published: Tuesday, December 24, 2019, 19:00 [IST]
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