Estrogen is a powerful hormone with many different functions. One of its most important functions is stimulating oil production in the skin, which helps the skin cells stay plump, moisturised and youthful looking.
However, during menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate and eventually drop. This slows sebum production and accelerates collagen breakdown in your skin. The result can be skin that's dry, flaky and even itchy.
The skin can also become thinner, and the natural barrier is disrupted, making it more susceptible to water loss, inflammation and dermatitis.
But it's not all bad. Transforming dry itchy skin into smoother, supple-looking skin is entirely doable during and even after menopause. All it takes is a few simple steps!
9 Ways to Tackle Dry Itchy Skin During Menopause
1. Keep Your Skin Hydrated:
Although you may have heard this countless times, it cannot be stressed enough. You need to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Also, after cleansing your skin, apply a moisturiser immediately as your skin is still damp, which will help lock in extra moisture.
And as much as most of us love frequent hot baths or showers, we should be aware of their drying effect on the skin.
2. Give Your Collagen Levels a Nourishing Boost:
Collagen is a protein produced naturally in the body that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. You can help your body make more collagen by eating foods rich in vitamin C and sulphur - two building blocks of collagen.
Foods high in vitamin C include red peppers, strawberries, green vegetables and citrus fruits. Foods high in sulphur include broccoli, cauliflower and garlic.
Bone broth is a direct source of collagen. It is available commercially or can be made at home by simmering bones in the cooker for a few hours.
3. Regenerate Oil Production From Within:
Take a good omega-3 supplement that contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA has a positive effect on the skin as it regulates oil production and blocks enzymes that diminish collagen levels.
Because it is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, EPA also helps repair and protect damaged skin. Good food sources for EPA include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. People on a vegetarian or vegan diet should check out algae and seaweed as they are one of the few plant foods containing both DHA and EPA.
Another oil your skin will love is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Sources include borage oil and blackcurrant seed oil.
4. Skip Harsh Chemicals Found in Skin Care Products:
Many bath soaps, skin lotions and other skin care products contain chemical ingredients that strip your skin of natural oils and dry it out.
Common skin irritants you should avoid include sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), the chemical compound that makes soaps and shampoos sudsy, and triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and deodorants.
Look for medical-grade skin care products that are free of these synthetic chemicals and contain natural, skin-friendly active ingredients.
Our top recommendation for women who want safe and effective skincare products that are scientifically proven to work is AlumierMD.
5. Eliminate Itching With Oatmeal Bath:
For instant relief of itchy skin, add a few spoonfuls of oatmeal to your bath. Oatmeal contains soothing plant chemicals called avenanthramides (derived from the name of the oat plant: Avena sativa) that can relieve itching and inflammation.
The lactic acid in milk is another remedy for dry skin. Cover the itchy, dry skin area with a cloth soaked in milk and leave it on for about 5 minutes.
6. Have Your Thyroid Checked:
Many women develop problems with their thyroid during menopause. As a result, symptoms of hypothyroidism - such as dry, sallow skin - can easily be overlooked because they overlap with menopausal symptoms.
If you feel tired, sluggish and cold all the time and have noticed changes not only in your skin but also in your fingernails (e.g. brittle nails) and hair (thinning and brittle hair), it may be time to see a doctor and have your thyroid function checked.
7. Hormone replacement therapy:
Although dry and itchy skin is not a primary reason for people to use HRT, increasing the level of oestrogen can relieve the skin of the dry and itchy feeling.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been shown to reduce some of the unwanted effects of menopause and, in some cases, can slow down the skin ageing process. Clinical studies have shown that postmenopausal women on hormone therapy retain more water in their skin than women who do not receive the treatment.
That being said, HRT may come with some risks and side effects. If you are considering hormone replacement therapy, you should first discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor.
8. Get a Prescription for Steroids:
If your itchy skin is accompanied by inflammation and redness, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids for topical use.
Corticosteroids are available in several forms: sprays, lotions, gels and creams applied to the site of irritation. If the problem is not so severe, an over-the-counter (OTC) cream to treat itching may be prescribed.
These creams contain a small quantity of hydrocortisone (a mild steroid). The type of treatment will be determined based on your condition and may include topical antibacterial ointments to help keep the skin free of infection.
9. Pay Attention to Your Overall Health:
A diet high in fast food and sweets causes inflammation in the body, which leads to a breakdown of the epidermis.
Chronic lack of sleep and excessive stress create free radicals that age the skin faster than sunlight. Many people use diet as an excuse, but unhealthy eating habits can be reversed quickly.
Stress reduction, including meditation and exercise, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress hormones, which improves sleep quality.
A poor diet might be the reason for your skin woes--even more so than menopause. If you have been sleeping irregular hours and feel exhausted from work, set up a regular sleep schedule and exercise regularly to improve your overall health. Your skin will thank you for it.
Have the skin changes that menopause brings disheartened you? It does not have to be that way anymore. At Dr Aesthetica, we have helped many women overcome a wide range of skin problems associated with menopause. We would love to help you too. Call us on 0121 769 0242 or email us at [email protected] to discuss what your options are.