Is this a thing?
Of all the things that you may have bargained for through this transition, itchy skin was probably not on the list.
So is it related?
What causes it?
And, perhaps more importantly, what can you do to find relief?
Let’s start from, uh, scratch.
In this article: 📝
- Can perimenopause cause dry itchy skin?
- Can low estrogen cause itching?
- Does menopause cause vaginal itching?
- Are itchy breasts menopause symptoms?
- How can I stop itching during menopause?
- Home remedies for the menopause itch
Can perimenopause cause dry itchy skin?
A quick breakdown: menopause is when it’s been twelve months since your last period.
But rather than think of it as a single moment in time, it’s more useful to consider it as a transition that lasts a few years.
During this time, your hormones go through some ups and downs, causing often uncomfortable symptoms.
The name of this chapter? Perimenopause.
And here’s where we arrive at the itch.
As your body prepares to pull the plug on your period for good, your sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) start to pack their bags, too.
And for many women, these hormones do not go quietly.
Since estrogen receptors are most common around genital areas, face, and lower limbs, the skin involving these areas is the most affected.
One of the final acts of their dramatic exit is menopause itching, which you may experience on your face and limbs.
Menopause vaginal itch and breast itch are also common.
Can low estrogen cause itching?
The short answer is, it looks that way.
As your estrogen levels decline, your skin becomes drier and thinner.
Collagen — the protein that plays a huge role in skin elasticity — also starts to decline.
Pigmentation, wrinkling, and rashes may all be part of your story right now.
You may also notice that wounds do not heal as efficiently as they used to.
Some women also experience what is known as formication — an experience that literally makes your skin crawl.
It feels as though tiny insects are creeping up your skin.
The culprit? Again, declining estrogen.
The good news is that this very unpleasant symptom is rare, and there is hope for relief! Read on.
Does menopause cause vaginal itching?
Some postmenopausal women may experience what is known as vulvar pruritus (basically, vulvar itching).
There are a few different conditions that are associated with it, the common thread being that they all cause the same uncomfortable symptom.
Menopause and vaginal itch can be related for a couple of different reasons:
As your estrogen levels drop, your vulva and lining of your vagina may become thinner, drier, and less flexible than they were before.
And just because this is a common menopause symptom, it doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
It can cause pain and itchiness and get in the way of your sex life.
Vaginal dryness may also be linked to more frequent urinary tract infections.
A condition called lichen sclerosus, most common in postmenopausal women, is linked to inflammation and tissue scarring of the vulva. The main symptom is vulvar itching, but it may also cause some cracking and bleeding.
Menopause itching at night can be the most debilitating.
If you are struggling with these symptoms, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider so that they can get you on the right treatment.
Are itchy breasts menopause symptoms?
Sadly, your breasts are not exempt from the picture.
As you go through perimenopause, hormonal shifts cause several changes in your breasts.
The density of your breast tissue can decrease, while fat tissue may increase.
Because those hormone fluctuations are causing your skin to thin, innocent activities such as wearing a bra, using specific soaps, and just plain old sweating (hello, hot flashes; hello night sweats) can cause lots of new discomforts.
How can I stop itching during menopause?
You don’t have to simply struggle through menopause itch.
(Look, for some women, perimenopause can last for a decade, giving a whole new meaning to the term seven-year itch.)
If you can see the source of your itch — basically, if your skin is bumpy, lumpy, or red — it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor so that they can check for infection.
They’ll also be able to provide you with treatments such as topical creams and steroids in some cases, to manage your symptoms, regardless of the source.
Depending on the exact cause, different treatment options are available.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness and itchiness, possibilities include:
These are readily available at pharmacies — just steer clear of any scented lubricants that might cause more irritation.
These treatments come in cream, suppository, and ring form — all of which are administered into the vagina.
And they appear to be very effective in terms of the treatment they offer without containing the same risk as other hormone therapies.
As UCI Health explains, there’s a difference between topical estrogen and estrogen replacement therapy (which we will look at in a moment), specifically because topical estrogens don’t appear to increase your risk of cancer and heart disease.
There are two main types — anesthetic (Benzocaine) and steroid (hydrocortisone).
While both can help soothe your itching skin in the short term, it’s not a good idea to use them for too long, as they may cause some side effects.
Steroid creams, for example, might actually cause your skin to thin more rapidly.
The research is young, but antihistamines might be useful in the treatment of menopause itch.
Because it’s still early days for this treatment option, it’s worth checking in with your doctor before diving in.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Because menopause itch appears to be linked to drops in estrogen, researchers are looking to HRT to potentially ease this symptom.
But HRT is not without its controversy (the added baggage of side effects).
As this study tells us, it could come with an added risk of breast and uterine cancers.
Essentially plant estrogens, these compounds mimic estrogen when you consume them in your food, and may help up your estrogen levels.
There are several clinical trials underway to establish the safety and efficacy of soy phytoestrogen supplements as an alternative.
Home remedies for the menopause itch
Then, here are some home remedies to help soothe your itchy skin:
- Stay hydrated. This will help with many menopause symptoms, including hot flashes.
- Keep your skin hydrated with a scent-free moisturizer.
- Use a cold compress to relieve immediate sensations.
- Go cautiously with perfumes and perfumed soaps. They might aggravate your symptoms.
- Ditch tight bras and scratchy fabrics. Think soft and loose when it comes to your wardrobe.
And, if you need support or someone to talk to who gets it, join us on Peanut.
There’s nothing like bonding over a shared itch.