Menopause Itchy Skin — Let's Scratch That Itch to Understand Why

By Christina Hanna, MPH, CHES • Published 6/13/2023

Medically Reviewed by MD, OB-GYN

a woman applying hydrating cream onto her hands to soothe her itchy skin caused by menopause

Itchy skin is a common symptom of menopause — around 21%* of females between 40 and 65 say they experience it. That itchy sensation can be felt on any part of the body. And even if you’ve never experienced itchy skin before, you may start experiencing it once you enter perimenopause.

Does menopause cause itchy skin?

The reason itchy skin is a menopause symptom is related to — you guessed it! — estrogen levels.

Estrogen helps the skin stay moisturized by stimulating the production of natural oils and collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps maintain the strength and elasticity of the skin.

Throughout the menopausal transition, the drop in estrogen levels leads to a decrease in natural oils and collagen. So, less oil makes the skin feel drier and less collagen makes the skin feel thinner. And those 2 changes combined can make the skin feel itchy. 

What can make itchy skin worse during menopause?

The intensity of the itchiness can range from mild to severe. In the most severe cases, it can disrupt sleep and daily living.

When skin is more dry and less elastic, some people find they become more sensitive to products like soaps and detergents, which can irritate the skin and increase itchiness.

The skin all over your body can be affected, including vulvar (external part of female genitals) and vaginal tissues. So, if you’re also experiencing vaginal dryness as part of menopausal symptoms, you may also have increased genital itching.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help get relief.

water poured into a glass to help menopausal woman stay hydrated and reduce the itching sensation from menopause

How can I help relieve itchy skin during menopause?

Itchy skin during menopause can often be managed with a few lifestyle changes.

  • Make some swaps. Switch to mild cleansers and soaps that don’t contain harsh chemicals or fragrances that may irritate the skin. Avoid hot showers and baths — the very hot water can dry out skin.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to help keep the skin moisturized and reduce the itching sensation.
  • Use a daily moisturizer. Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which can help moisturize dry skin. Apply moisturizer after bathing and whenever your skin feels dry. Natural moisturizers, such as aloe vera gel and coconut oil, are well known for their skin-soothing properties. Try to avoid moisturizers with fragrances, which can be irritating.
  • Take an oatmeal bath. Colloidal oatmeal is oatmeal that’s in a fine powder form. Add it to a warm bath to help soften and soothe your skin.

If these changes don’t improve dry, itchy skin, or you have any questions talk to your doctor or dermatologist.

What are some other menopause itchy skin treatments?

If lifestyle changes don’t improve itchy skin during menopause, it’s important to talk to a doctor. There are several short-term medications that may help reduce itching and improve overall skin health:

  • Steroid creams. They contain hydrocortisone that helps soothe itchy and inflamed skin. But they should only be used short-term (about 1 week). Longer use can cause skin thinning, redness, and blistering.
  • Anesthetic creams. These can help numb the skin and provide temporary relief. These should not be applied to broken or damaged skin.
  • Antihistamines. Usually used to treat allergies, some people find antihistamines helpful for menopause itching relief. They can be applied as a cream or taken as a tablet.
  • Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). Itching is not a primary reason that people take MHT, but it may help with reduced itching.

*Data from Attitudes & Usage study conducted in August 2021 with 4,578 female participants ages 40-65. Funded by Kenvue.

Last Updated 1/23/2024

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