During menopause, your skin may suddenly experience itching that doesn't go away on its own. When estrogen levels start to drop, your body's ability to produce oil slows down, and as a result, your skin becomes dry and itchy. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to treat itchy skin, including certain medications, changing your habits and lifestyle, and trying a variety of natural treatments.
Method 1 of 3: Changing Your Lifestyle
Step 1. Take a quick shower with lukewarm water
To reduce itching on the skin, limit bath time to less than 20 minutes, and use lukewarm water instead of warm water. This method can help increase the skin's natural moisture and reduce itching.
- Avoid hot showers as they can dry out the skin and make itching worse.
- Also, avoid using soaps that contain fragrances, shower gels (liquid bath soap), and deodorants that can irritate the skin. Switch to soaps that contain moisturizers to help soften and moisturize your skin.
- Pat the skin dry, and don't wipe it with a towel so that the irritation doesn't get worse.
Step 2. Apply moisturizer
If itchy skin is caused by dry conditions, you should apply moisturizer immediately after bathing and at least twice a day to prevent dry skin. Moisturizer will help retain skin's natural moisture and improve its health and elasticity.
- Use an unscented hypoallergenic lotion (such as Eucerin and Cetaphil) or try an oatmeal-based moisturizer like Aveeno. You can even use unscented Vaseline to lock in moisture.
- Avoid using moisturizers that contain fragrances, alcohol, or other irritating chemicals because they can make itching worse.
Step 3. Use non-irritating fabrics and clothing
Avoid using stiff, rough fabrics (such as wool) as they can irritate the skin even more. Wear loose clothing made of non-irritating materials (such as cotton or silk).
- Also, wash your clothes using unscented hypoallergenic laundry soap and avoid fabric softeners. Some laundry soaps can leave residue on clothes that make itching worse.
- You can also use cotton sheets which can help reduce irritation at night.
Step 4. Include healthy fats in your diet
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that help the skin produce oil and retain moisture. If the content of these essential fats is lacking in the diet, your skin will be dry and itchy.
- Foodstuffs that contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, walnuts, eggs, sardines, soybeans, safflower oil, and flax seed.
- You can also take fish oil or omega-3 oil capsules if dietary intake is insufficient.
Step 5. Meet the body's fluid needs
Our bodies depend on water to survive. Lack of water can lead to dehydration which triggers dry and itchy skin.
- The Institute of Medicine determines that on average, women should drink at least 9 cups of water every day.
- Increase your water intake if you exercise or live in a hot environment.
Step 6. Reduce stress
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, including causing skin problems. Apart from itching, many other skin problems can also be made worse by stress, such as eczema and dermatitis.
- Reduce stress by spending time doing relaxing activities such as meditation, yoga, walking, or reading.
- You can also try controlled breathing techniques to combat stress.
Step 7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Both of these ingredients tend to have a diuretic effect, causing you to urinate more frequently and making dehydration worse. Caffeine and alcohol also affect blood flow in the skin, making itching worse.
Consume caffeine and alcohol in moderation, if you do consume them
Step 8. Take vitamins
If you don't get all the essential vitamins from your diet, your skin will dry out and become unhealthy. Consider taking a supplement containing vitamins C, D, E, and K. You may also want to try using a vitamin-rich topical cream to promote healthy skin and relieve itching.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that stimulates collagen synthesis and reduces cell damage. You can take vitamin C or use a topical cream.
- Vitamin D3 (available as synthetic calcitriol) can be found in topical creams that may be beneficial for treating skin conditions (such as psoriasis) by reducing inflammation and irritation.
- Vitamin E can help protect the skin from sun damage and reduce skin inflammation when applied topically.
- Vitamin K is found in topical creams, and although the scientific evidence for its effectiveness is not as strong as that of vitamins C and E, it can also help with skin irritation.
Method 2 of 3: Using Drugs
Step 1. Try an anti-itch cream
Anti-itch creams can help moisturize and soothe itchy skin. You can try an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or, if these options don't help, ask your doctor to prescribe a stronger medication.
- Some anti-itch creams that are widely used include Aveeno and 1% hydrocortisone.
- If trying to use a corticosteroid, apply the cream to the itchy skin, then moisten a cotton cloth (such as a washcloth) with water and apply it to the skin. The moisture from the cloth will help the skin absorb the cream.
- You should remember that anti-itch creams are generally intended as a temporary solution and should only be used for a short period of time (usually no longer than 1 week).
- You should also consider consulting with your doctor to get a prescription for an anti-itch cream that can be used for longer than 1 week.
Step 2. Ask your doctor about calcineurin inhibitors
These topical creams can help reduce inflammation in the skin and can be used instead of anti-itch creams, especially in less extensive areas of the skin.
- Some of the available calcineurin inhibitors include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel).
- However, because these drugs can weaken the immune system, you must follow the rules of use and do not exceed the recommended dose.
Step 3. Use an antihistamine
Antihistamines can help fight itching by blocking the production of histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergic reactions and itching. You can buy over-the-counter oral and topical antihistamines from your local pharmacy.
- Antihistamines can be taken by mouth (in tablet or liquid form), or topically (in cream or lotion form). If the itchy skin area is large enough, you should use an oral antihistamine that can have a systemic effect. However, if the itchy skin area is small and separate, you can use a topical cream as a local treatment.
- Be sure to take an antihistamine that doesn't cause daytime drowsiness (eg Claritin), and an antihistamine that causes drowsiness at night (eg Benadryl).
- Some brands of antihistamines that are often used include Allegra, Claritin, Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton.
- Remember to always follow the instructions for use on the medicine package, and never increase the dose or use the medicine more than recommended.
Step 4. Talk to your doctor about hormone control medications
Hormone replacement therapy can help replace the diminished hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone) during menopause. This therapy is proven to reduce the sensation of heat, vaginal dryness, and reduce bone mineral loss. This therapy may help reduce itchy skin, although it is not marketed for this purpose.
- Doctors may prescribe low-dose estrogen pills or patches to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
- Your doctor may also recommend combination therapy (estrogen/progesterone/progestin). This hormone combination therapy is used for women who still have a uterus, and is given in low doses via pills or plasters.
- Side effects of hormone therapy include flatulence, breast swelling and tenderness, headaches, mood swings, nausea, and vaginal bleeding.
Step 5. Ask about antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
Your doctor may also prescribe an antidepressant to treat itchy skin. Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor class of drugs has been known to reduce various types of itching on the skin.
- One drug that may be recommended by a doctor is buspirone. This anti-anxiety drug can help with itchy skin by blocking dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the feel-good center in the brain.
- Your doctor may also recommend selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).
Method 3 of 3: Using Natural Treatments
Step 1. Try using aloe vera to soothe the skin
Aloe vera has antifungal and antibiotic properties, and has been used as a natural skin healer and moisturizer for decades. You may need to try and see how it can help relieve itchy skin from menopause.
- You can buy aloe vera gel from a pharmacy.
- You can also buy aloe vera plants if you want the original source. Break the aloe vera leaf and cut it into equal widths. Remove the gel from the aloe vera leaf and apply it directly to the irritated skin.
Step 2. Use a bentonite clay paste to soothe the skin
Clay has been used for centuries to heal and protect the skin. Although it hasn't been scientifically proven to relieve itchiness from menopause, you may want to give it a try.
- Combine the clay and olive oil in a bowl with the filtered water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the itchy skin area and allow it to dry. Rinse the dry clay and repeat as needed.
- You can also try "plastering" clay by applying it to a piece of cloth. Then, place the cloth on the surface of the itchy skin with clay that is in direct contact with the skin. Let the clay "plaster" for about 4 hours or until the clay is dry and hardened. Rinse until clean.
Step 3. Try using apple cider vinegar to reduce itching
Apple cider vinegar has been used as an antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial which can also help with itchy and dry skin.
- Pour a few drops of apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball or washcloth and apply it to the itchy skin.
- If you can, try to use raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Step 4. Use peppermint leaves
Although its benefits for menopausal symptoms have not been proven, peppermint leaves can help soothe itchy skin so it's worth a try to reduce itching due to menopause. In addition, peppermint leaves can also provide a cold sensation that feels so comfortable on the skin.
- Crush a peppermint leaf in a bowl and apply it directly to itchy skin.
- You can also make peppermint ice to relieve itching on the skin as well as inflammation. If you want to try it, mix the crushed peppermint leaves with filtered water. Pour this mixture into an ice cube container and freeze. Apply an ice cube covered in a towel to the itchy skin (don't apply ice directly to the skin as it can cause frostbite).
- You can also try using peppermint oil to relieve itching by rubbing it against your skin.
Step 5. Use oatmeal paste to relieve itching
Oatmeal contains compounds that can reduce inflammation and soothe itchy skin. You can also make an oatmeal paste or take an oatmeal bath to relieve itching.
- Pour some water into a cup of raw oatmeal and let it sit for a few minutes to form a paste. Then, apply the oatmeal paste to the itchy skin.
- Or, you can also take an oatmeal bath by mixing olive oil, baking soda, and ground oats into the water. Soak the itchy skin for 20 minutes.
- You can use over-the-counter oatmeal, or you can buy colloidal oatmeal at the pharmacy.
Step 6. Use a cold, wet compress to relieve itching on the skin
Placing a towel dampened in cold water on the itchy skin can help relieve irritation. This method is very useful done overnight, especially if the itching makes it difficult for you to sleep.
- Applying a wet towel to itchy skin can also help protect the skin and prevent you from scratching it at night.
- You can also try the other remedies mentioned here to reduce itching at night.
Step 7. Try herbal creams
Topical creams containing chamomile (Matricaria recutita), chickweed (Stellaria media), marigold (Calendula officinalis), hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and/or liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) may also help relieve itchy skin.
- Consult a doctor before using this cream, and discontinue use if your irritation or symptoms worsen.
- Another herb that may be useful is St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). In clinical trials, eczema sufferers who used St. cream. John's wort experienced improvement in symptoms compared to those who used the placebo cream.
Step 8. Try acupuncture and homeopathic remedies
Acupuncture has been known to relieve symptoms of eczema, and as such, it may be worth trying to relieve itching from menopause. Just remember that more research is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture for itchy skin.
You may also need to try homeopathic remedies to reduce itching. Calendula, sulfur, Urtica urens, and Rhus toxicodendron are also used by some homeopathic practitioners to relieve itching on the skin due to menopause
- Trim fingernails short, clean, and smooth to prevent scratching.
- Always consult your doctor before trying any natural or over-the-counter remedies, especially if you are also taking other medications.