The menopause is generally a pretty unpleasant experience. And along with the end of your periods and child-bearing years come plenty of symptoms that can range from painful to just downright annoying.
And while many symptoms are expected, we’re looking at you memory loss and hot flushes, some are much less talked about.
Itchy skin, for example, is a less-known but can still be a very common problem that menopausal women come up against.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how the menopause affects the skin as well as treatments to help you get some much-needed relief. So, if you want to learn more, keep on reading!
So, what is an itch or itchiness? Essentially, it’s a sensation on the skin that is irritating, aggravating, and annoying. This sensation or feeling then often makes the individual feel the need to scratch the area in order to feel some relief.
However, this relief is often short-term and in the long run, only further damages the skin and can make the area feel even itchier.
This sensation is usually caused by extreme heat, dry skin, or irritated or cracked skin.
Feeling Itchy When Menopausal
Menopausal women often experience this itching sensation because their hormone levels are fluctuating so much.
This fluctuation in hormones can then cause the skin to become thinner and thus more prone to becoming dry. And dry skin often causes itchy skin.
Many women note that the urge to itch can become uncontrollable and unignorable, especially at night time.
This is probably because when we settle into bed we are not distracted by any other stimuli and so we are much more aware of our bodily sensations.
For this reason, learning the ways to manage this sensation is absolutely essential. Don’t worry, we’ll go into more detail about how to do so later in this article!
Menopause Vulvar Irritation
Many women comment that their private areas in particular become very itchy during the menopause. There are a few reasons that this may happen so let’s take a look at some of them now.
Before you rule out the itchy sensation as a menopausal symptom, it’s worth double-checking that this vulvar irritation isn’t actually because of an allergic reaction.
This area of your body is particularly sensitive and there are many factors that can affect it.
For example, have you started using a new detergent for your underwear that your body may not respond well to?
Have you tried new body products? New sanitary wear? New condoms? New clothing or perfume? All of these things can cause an itchy sensation if you are allergic.
During the menopause, it is not uncommon to experience dry skin, especially around areas such as the vulva or the vagina. This can cause a really painful, uncomfortable, and intense itching sensation.
A condition known as atrophic vaginitis may be the cause of this. This condition is often linked to menopause and can cause (see also: Can Having Your Tubes Removed Cause Early Menopause?)the thinning or inflammation of the vaginal walls.
And the feeling is far from pleasant. It is often described as a burning sensation that is incredibly painful.
Luckily, if you speak to your doctor about this issue you can often be provided with oestrogen vaginal creams that can help keep the sensation at bay.
Your doctor can also check to ensure that this feeling isn’t coming from a different health condition such as a yeast infection.
Sometimes a really itchy vulva area can come from your skin becoming thinner and dryer during menopause.
If you have constant itching in this area, it is best to consult a medical professional because this is often caused by a viral infection and treatment will be required in order to feel any relief or respite from it.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition that can also thin your skin. This in turn makes the area particularly sensitive to itching.
This is often genetic but it can also be linked to hormonal changes such as the ones you experience during menopause.
Again, in this instance, the best option is to consult a medical professional who will be able to advise the proper treatment for the condition such as specific steroids.
The Four Most Affected Areas
Other than the vagina and vulva, many other areas of your skin may also be itchy.
The most commonly affected areas are:
- The Chest
- The Back
- The Face and Neck
- The Arms and Legs
How To Alleviate Itchy Skin
Itching is a prevalent and annoying symptom that can be impossible to try and ignore. And because of this, it is vital that you know the best ways to help alleviate the aggravating sensation.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tips and tricks.
- Use Moisturizer Daily – You want to make sure that the moisturizer you use is unperfumed in order to prevent any further irritation. You should also opt for a product that doesn’t have a high pH. The ideal time to apply this is right after a bath or shower.
- Avoid Scratching – Though it can be tempting for the short-term relief try to avoid itching where possible as this will only cause further damage.
- Keep Clothes Loose – Tight clothing can further aggravate the itching sensation so try to keep your clothes as loose as possible. Tight clothing can also make you warmer and this can cause the skin to dry further and thus make the itching worse.
- Don’t Spend Too Long In Water – Spending too much time in water can also further exacerbate itching symptoms. So, whether you’re in a hot bath, a swimming pool, or a jacuzzi, try to keep your time in them rather brief.
Though it may not be as widely spoken about, itchiness is still a common symptom of the menopause. So, if this is something you are experiencing, don’t feel alone.
Follow the tips and tricks for alleviating general itchiness and you may feel a lot better.
And of course, if the issue persists, or you are experiencing severe vaginal itching, speak to a medical professional who can help determine the best treatment method for you.