While also related to environment and allergies, itchy skin is common especially during menopause because of the hormonal imbalance that is characteristic of the stage. The hormones estrogen and progesterone play a role in the production of collagen, a protein responsible for healthy skin structure. Therefore, when hormone levels fluctuate during menopause, the body may be unable to produce sufficient collagen, causing many women to experience dry and itchy skin.
However, since itchiness in middle-aged women is often due to hormonal imbalance during menopause, it is possible to treat it by balancing hormone levels. Continue reading to learn about the approaches to itchy skin treatment.
Three Approaches to Treating Itchy Skin
When treating dry and itchy skin, three different approaches can be applied. These are categorized as: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
It is recommended to start off with the approach that entails the least risk, lifestyle changes, before moving on to the next stage. As a rule of thumb, medications are only used as a last resort.
1. Lifestyle changes
The first tier of treatment poses little to no risk, but it requires the most determination and effort. In many cases, simple lifestyle adjustments can not only treat itchy skin, but also benefit overall health, making them an ideal place to begin.
The first step is ensuring that the skin has all the vital nutrients it needs through a well-balanced diet. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, while vitamin E helps retain moisture and relieve dryness and itchiness. These nutrients can be found in coldwater fish, leafy greens, and whole grains. Soy products are another healthy choice because they are rich in not only protein, but also phytoestrogens, which can boost estrogen levels in the body. Drinking enough water can also help against dryness, hydrating the skin from the inside out.
Nutrients for Skin Health
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins
Keeping up with a regular exercise routine can also help itchy skin. Not only does physical activity benefit the endocrine (hormonal) system, but it also increases blood flow, helping nutrients to reach the skin more efficiently. Exercise - especially Pilates and yoga - also helps in stress relief.
Finally, maintaining healthy habits can also provide relief from dry skin. Regularly applying a fragrance-free moisturizer, such as petroleum jelly, can provide temporary relief while other lifestyle changes are being implemented. Since smoking is known to dry out the skin and constrict blood circulation, it is important to moderate and eventually eliminate that habit. Likewise, excess alcohol consumption can worsen symptoms of hormonal imbalance, including itchy skin.
Although lifestyle adjustments are a wholesome means of relieving itchy skin, they can be hard to put into practice. Plus, only some changes address hormonal imbalance, the principal cause of most menopausal itchiness. Fortunately, alternative medicines can balance hormones, thereby relieving itchy skin. Keep reading to find out more about natural treatments.
2. Alternative medicine
This approach includes several possibilities, such as spa treatments and moisturizing masks. In particular, herbal supplements are considered the ideal method, since they are simpler to follow, require less time and money than other alternative options, and they can balance hormone levels.
In terms of herbal supplements, two types are commonly used to treat hormonal imbalance and thereby itchy skin: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
Phytoestrogenic supplements - e.g., dong quai
These supplements are rich in phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that can compensate for an estrogen deficiency. While they can balance estrogen levels, these supplements should not be taken for long periods, since putting external hormones into the body can diminish its hormone-producing capabilities, ultimately causing an estrogen shortage. However, they are generally safe for short-term use.
Hormone-regulating supplements - e.g., Macafem
These supplements, rather than containing outside hormones, enhance the endocrine system by nourishing its glands, supporting regulated, natural hormone production. This balances not only estrogen levels, but those of progesterone as well, thus providing relief from itchy skin. These supplements are also generally free of side effects.
From “Nature and Health Magazine”, Dr. Chacon says:
Macafem nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the endocrine glands”. Click on the following link to find out more about how Macafem works.
A combination of approaches - namely lifestyle changes and alternative medicine - is often the most effective way to combat itchy skin. However, in persistent cases, women may wish to employ medical treatment. If so, it is necessary to first be aware of the risk associated with such treatment.
Medical intervention entails the most risk and often costs the most as well. In the U.S., the most popular medication for itchy skin and other menopause systems is hormone replacement therapy or HRT. While it is a quick and effective way of balancing estrogen levels, it also increases the risk of breast cancer and other diseases, as seen in the study below.
In 1991, The National Institutes of Health commenced the largest clinical trial ever performed in the U.S., referred to as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). It was designed to identify the advantages and disadvantages of HRT, but because of the discovery that the use of artificial hormones raises the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, blood clots, and heart disease, it was halted early. Other medications - including prescription anti-itch creams and antihistamines - can be used to relieve itchy skin, but they only address the symptoms, and they may have side effects. Light therapy is another possibility, but it takes many sessions to work and tends to be expensive. When treating severe itchy skin, it is best to talk to a doctor or dermatologist to weigh the risks and benefits of the various treatment options.
The three above approaches are not mutually exclusive and can be combined as necessary to best relieve dryness and itchiness. A growing number of women are discovering that a blend of lifestyle changes and alternative medicines is the most effective and practical way to treat menopausal itchy skin.
A Safe Way of Treating Itchy Skin
Making lifestyle changes:
- Staying well-hydrated
- Taking vitamins B, C, and E
- Exercising regularly
- Dry environments
- High levels of stress
- Wool, soaps, and cleaning products
And taking hormone-regulating herbal supplements:
- Support a healthy hormonal system
- Natural, safe, and effective
A good option is Macafem - read more about it.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause." November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.