35 Symptoms of Perimenopause: Dry, Itchy Skin

by Magnolia on January 20, 2010

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One of the most bizarre manifestations of my hormonal chaos has been the itches.  Everything itched.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  But, mostly, my head.

My scalp has always given me trouble.  Meaning, I’ve always had itchy scalp.  Not dandruff.  Not psoriasis.  Just itchy scalp.  Particularly if I didn’t wash my hair regularly.  Gross, I know.  But, what can I say.

Anyway.  When the perimenopause hit my itchy scalp took on new dimensions.  Like it itched so bad I swore at times it must be lice.  Yes, gross again.  But, sorry.

Finally, a couple of years ago, when I could stand it no longer,  I took my itchy self to a dermatologist.  She checked me high and low.  Just like I said…..no dandruff.  No psoriasis.  And, lucky for me, no lice.

But then, when she could find no discernible reason for my itching, she fell back on the old standard…..”well, at YOUR age, these things happen…..”

At MY age?  Sigh.  Yeah.  At MY age.  So, rather than quibble with her over what she meant exactly, I just asked her what I could do.  At that point my scalp was so inflamed from the constant itching and scratching I looked radioactive.

She gave me the prescription shampoo Clobex, (which comes in a lotion and spray as well) which did the trick.  It calmed my scalp down and kept me from scratching it until I went mad. Clobex has a steriod in it though and is not recommended for long term use. She also gave me some antihistamines which I’ve been taking faithfully ever since.  They worked too.  On my scalp.

If you also find that your scalp itch has gone into over-drive since perimenopause or that you  developed an itchy scalp since perimenopause, then please, don’t do like I did and suffer needlessly for years before you see a dermatologist about it.  Go!  Go now menopause sisters!  You can find  relief!

In terms of our itchy skin, well, there are several things you can do and none of them involves a doctor.

1.  Moisturizer. Yeah.  Imagine that.  A little moisture goes a long way.  Particularly if you’re inclined, like me, to take really hot showers.  I know it’s a bit oxymoronic that a wet shower could dry out your skin.  But, it’s the heat.  It extracts moisture and makes a bad case of the itches even worse.  Dove makes a good moisturizer, as does Nivea (one of my favorites) and Alveeno as well. In fact, Alveeno, like Dove, markets specifically toward menopausal women.  Smart, smart company, wouldn’t you say?

2.  Oils – like Vitamin E or Aloe Vera (though Aloe is not an oil, I know) does wonderful things for the skin.  Plus, a little goes a long way.  You can even add a little bit of peppermint or lavender essential oils for scent and a little bit of tingle.  Or better yet, add it to your bath water.

Come to think of it, Calgon bath oil beads can help too.  But you might want to avoid the fragrances.  They can only aggravate an already irritated skin.

3.  Hydrate – As in drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a common cause of itchy skin believe it or not.  If you enjoy coffee and tea, well then you know that both are diuretics which can and will dehydrate you.  Dehydrated body = Itchy skin.  So, drink up, ladies.

4. Cider Vinegar – If you don’t mind smelling like a pickle, believe it or not, cider vinegar has been known to stop itching skin.  Pour 1 cup into a warm bath and dive in, girls.

I’ve never tried it, because I prefer to eat my pickles rather than smell like one, but when your itchy, well, it’s worth a shot.  You certainly can’t hurt yourself.  Though I wouldn’t recommend this if you have any scratches or open sores on your body.  Um, OUCH?

5. Oatmeal – Oatmeal baths have long been a remedy for poison ivy and chicken pox, so why not perimenopausal itchy skin?  Put some in a bath with  a drop or two of peppermint and lavender essential oils. Can I hear an “aaaahhhhh?”

6. Essential Fatty Oils in your diet - Like the Omega 3s found in salmon, walnuts, fortified eggs, or algae oils, ladies.  NOT chocolate. (that’s for the bed picnic later)

Those Omega-3′s are pretty wonderful.  They help produce your skin’s oil barrier which can also help in keeping your skin hydrated.  They also promote a healthy scalp, which promotes healthy hair.  You’re a winner all the way around.

Personally, I love to put flaxseed oil (a potent source of Omega-3′s) in a morning smoothy.  If you would rather eat your oils rather than drink them, you can also find Omega-3s in sardines, soybeans, soy products and whole flaxseeds .  I often add  whole flaxseed to quinoa or my morning oatmeal.  A little crunchy, but it works.  You also get an extra added benefit of healthy fiber in your diet as well.

7. Avoid Harsh or Perfumed Detergents in Your Wash – If your itchy skin is really bad, you can try non-fragrance detergents on your clothes, because, well, every little bit helps. All of your main brands, Tide, All, etc., offer fragrance free alternatives.

8. Sunscreen with Moisturizers – Again, just keeping a good moisturizer on your skin helps immensely.  But, a little sunscreen to go along with it and you’ve got all your basis covered.  I actually use a tinted moisturizer on my face by Mary Kay that gives me color, moisture and an SPF of about 30.  I’m not a shill for Mary Kay, ladies, but I will tell you, this product is one of their best in my view.

I have naturally oily skin (which is paying off in my old age in the wrinkle department, I might add) and it works wonderfully without adding that greasy, heavy feeling that some moisturizers tend to do to us “oily skin” gals. Plus, a little is all you need, it lasts forever, and that makes it a good value to boot.

9. Add Your Own -  So how ’bout it, ladies? Do you have any other tried and true solutions for dry, itchy skin that you can share with your menopause sisters?  If so, let us know!  We’re all in this together and we can use all the help we can get.  Spill it sisters!  Spill it!

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle April 28, 2014 at 1:40 am

I’ve had weird pms symptoms for years. I use to have typical cold symptoms every month during pms, the stuffy nose, cough and soar throat. It would magically go away as soon as my period started. I began getting these itchy lumps on top of my head some 15 years ago, I was maybe 30. I swore I had horns growing out of my scalp! I saw plenty of doctors, allergist, dermatologist etc. in the end there were no answers and nothing they prescribed or suggested worked. It is only in the past few years that my hubby and I connected that the itching comes before my period most of the time. No huge lumps anymore. Some months the itching is mild and sometimes intense. I beg him the scratch, brush, yank, twist anything to relieve the itch. I found this on the web cause I’ve just had another lovely pms moment of complaining about everything, he says. It’s true I don’t deny it, but I warn him it’s coming and at 47 each month the symptoms are worse and worse. I maybe a mass murderer before old menopause is done with me! I’m a raving bitch and a weeping fool. And my head itches to distraction. I see my doc next month and we are having a talk about this very subject!

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Mary May 1, 2014 at 10:59 am

Well I just read some of the comments about itchy skin. It’s a relief to know that I am not going crazy. I am 56 and it has been about a year since my last period.Been itchy since this January. Thought flees, lice, etc. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night itching like crazy. Yes, everything itched! Face to butt (butt hole too) to legs and arms. Crazy! Then a hot flash and seemed like increased heart rate! Wow. Had seen both a Physician and dermatologist.1 gave steroid, other gave cream and both said nervousness related and will go away! Ha. I am going to gyno for check and I am sure it is menopause. Thanks everyone! I also believe vigorous exercise will help among all other suggestions.

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Magnolia May 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Yes, Mary, exercise does help!

Magnolia

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Trink Downes May 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

‘kay, so…
I’m glad to hear this. I’ve been having bouts of the itchies since January, which rev up fairly quickly, over a day or two, but then linger or take weeks for the scratching damage I do (before I realize it) to fully go away.

When the itchies come, they are symmetric: both shins, ankles, both shoulders, both elbows, behind both knees, you get the drift. No rash, just the raised bumps and redness I clearly do when scratching without meaning to. The itch is more like skin sensitivity, and I must say scratching it can give me goosebumps all over in a totally “hurts so good” way! The first bout hit my torso and by the time I managed to stop scratching and just rub (I had to do SOMETHING) I gave myself a zillion little bruises. Anyway, this has happened 4 times now since January (each bout can take up to a month before I pronounce it “over”) and since all the rest of me seems just fine, well, this would explain a LOT.

Daytime hot flashes used to happen, not so much any more. If they do they are relatively mild. I do think vigorous exercise helps those, by the way – as if getting hot and using the system keeps it more even-keeled the rest of the time, or something nuts like that.

Night sweats used to be bad (I’d wake up with a start, and within 5 seconds I could feel it arrive with a whoosh). I still have night flushes sometimes, but not the big nasty, sweaty flashes.

I believe I sound kind of textbook at this point: fighting the weight gain, occasionally moody (but no melt downs yet, thank goodness), and the itchies DO correspond to bouts of the “why am I awake from 2-4 AM again?” fiestas. I can’t believe how much fun this all is. :)

I’m 51, but had a uterine albation almost 5 years ago so no periods since then – without blood tests my doctor and I have no idea if I’m perimenopausal or not! Last test was a couple of years ago, and nope, at that point I still had follicle action and other levels were not low. So I guess I’ll make an appointment to see the gyn rather than the GP.

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holly June 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

You might want to get tested for celiac…I have it and one of the signs was symmetric rashes..both elbows etc..its a dermatis condition that some celiacs get.

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Denise June 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Ok, I am 48 years old. I feel I’m too young to be having these symptoms so soon. However, alas, they are here. What freaks me out most is, the hot flashes came and went, say 2 months worth. Now, the itchy scalp (GRRRR) which is now starting down my back, right along my spine. WIERD!!!!! I’m making an appointment with my Gyno, first, to see if a dermatologist can help. I have had numerous hair appointments, and my gal has found NO lice. Thank you Jesus!! I have tried Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo, wich only irritates it more!! I am a “Natural” kinda Coconut Oily gal.
I always had Very Heavy periods. Had a tubal, years ago, which only increased my flow! Then I had the Oblasion done to stop the flow completely. I couldn’t afford a new wardrobe every month, as I was ” ruining” all my pants and underware with the bleeding to death, UGH!!!!
SO, I am Fed Up, and just want to enjoy this time in my life, ya know. The kids are grown and gone, living their lives. Now it’s my turn to enjoy life with my husband, and this crap is going on!
I’m at my wits end!!!

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Pat June 30, 2014 at 1:27 am

I’m 53 and have developed an itchy rashy back the last few months (never had problems before). Doctor prescribed a hydracortisone cream but isn’t helping. Maybe it’s an allergy, or some type of eczema as I used to have that as a child. I am gluten-intolerant, but I know it’s not the rash that can go along with that. Not sure if it’s perimenopause-related, but is very annoying and puzzling!

Anyway, wanted to say that I’ve had very heavy periods all my life as well, but especially in the last 4 years. And now, they’re happening every 18-21 days instead of 26. Thankfully my doctor recently prescribed Sterimax (Tranexamic acid) tablets which act to clot the blood (also used in surgery, and for excessive nosebleeds). You just take 1 or 2 tablets three times a day on your heaviest days, and it really reduces the flow. I couldn’t believe the difference! I could actually venture freely out of the house on those days, as my flow was only about 1/3 of the usual. So, just an idea for you. Not sure where this website originates, but I live in Canada. Hope this helps!

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Claire in CA, USA July 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I’m almost 49, and have had several sleepless nights spent scratching and clawing myself all over, with no bug bites evident. I thought I was going crazy. Last night, I threw my blanket off and had the fan blowing on me, and that actually helped, but only where the air hit me. UGH! I am at work today and exhausted because of lack of sleep. I have slacked off on drinking water the past few weeks, so I’m hitting it hard today.

Thanks for the great blog! I’m so glad I found you today.

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Ronda July 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’m 46 and having the problem with sleepless nights spent scratching and clawing myself all over, with no bug bites evident. Is this a result in the change of hormone levels?

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oldsick&tired July 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Helloooooo my sisters!

I’m 52, the “oven” has been removed for several years now and I am Type II. Dry skin has always been a problem for me but whoa a new one came along recently. My “playground” is swollen, dry and itchy. I’m talking out of the blue this happened… I joked that I’m certain that I must look like a female baboon in heat!

NOTHING seems to help. I’ve tried those moisture replacements, baby wipes (helps a little), baby oil, shey butter, wool wax… It will go away then BAM back again. I’m beginning to think that part of it…especially in the USA is the formaldehyde and other chemicals that they use to make “soft and strong” toilet paper.

For the itchy scalp gals I would suggest “Pine Tar Soap.” you can get it at Lehmans online. I’ve heard good things about it for scalp and skin issues… even eczema. I’ve gone back to Ivory and that helped a little.. I’ll try pine tar soap next.

For those with “hot flashes and night sweats” Please have your glucose checked. That is one of my HUGE indicators that my glucose is off… and there is something called “Dawn Phenomenon” that takes place at about 2-4 am.

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Deb Taber July 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I stumbled upon your article around 3:00 in the morning, after tossing, turning, and scratching myself silly. I am 47 and have found that a lot of perimenopausel symptoms have come on over night. I itch EVERYWHERE. I scratch one area and five other areas begin to itch. I am also experiencing insomnia, night sweats, and dealing with a sciatica issue to boot. I feel like a hot mess. Thank you for the tips, I will be trying several of them in hopes of getting some relief.

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Stephanie July 14, 2014 at 11:38 am

I don’t know what to do! Back in April, one day, out of the blue…. started to itch all over. Just bam, there it was and it wouldn’t stop. Stomach, chest, back, arms, upper legs, toes, scalp… finally I went to the Dr. He ran a ton of tests, because he said itching can be a sign of cancer and he wanted to rule out the bad stuff. Then on to rule out any liver trouble, and so on. Spring was rife with nothing but doctor trips, labs, and scans. All they found was low ferritin, and I was told that iron deficiency can cause the skin to itch and they put me on iron. The doctor also suggested oral antihistimines for the itching. I took allegra and the itching was gone in two days. I kept at the iron and soon, I went off the allegra and had no itching for two weeks. Then bam….. it’s back again…. but this time I noticed that I’m about 4 days from having my period.

I just don’t know what is going on. My sister keeps thinking this could be hormonal…. so we will see. The doctor says it takes time to see if itching goes away from iron loading. I hate waiting around. Now I wonder if this is dietary. I really don’t have the money to get to an allergist so…. I guess I play the wait and see game.

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Katie July 22, 2014 at 2:51 am

Say it ain’t so!!! I turned 40 less than two weeks ago, and I swear to you my vision and skin went south within 24 hours …..no lie! My scalp itches, but worse than that is my face. I could claw it off!!!!!! My eyelids, cheeks, jaws and behind my ears all make me insane!!! I have tried to isolate the problem, and realize it may be dry skin. I have NEVER had dry skin….ever. It has been the exact opposite. Is this hormone fluctuations???

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Sally July 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I am 55 years young and this year of 2014 has been a very bad year for me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It started with not being able to sleep for the past several years. I just chalked it up that i just didn’t sleep. This spring, i broke out with itching and rashes, mostly over the abdominable area, front and back. I also broke out on both arms in the elbow area, and on my legs upper inside of each leg. I couldn’t figure it out, i was breaking out on the exact same spots on each limb! What the hell?!! And then it hit my scalp, and i lost my eyebrows (thank goodness for brow liner!). Anyway, for about 12 weeks i actually thought i had come down with a disease and that i was either dying or was going be sick with this unkown disease for the rest of my life. The itching is horrendous. I changed soap, shampoo, deodorant, everything that touched my body i either quit using or changed brands several times. Nothing worked! Cortizone, hydrocortizone, calamine didn’t work! Finally, out of frustration, i used my husband’s gold bond lotion (in the green bottle) It does give me relief. but not permanently. I have been to the dermatologist, gynocologist, allergist, regular doctor. NOBODY knew what is wrong with me! Well, one night i realized i didn’t have my regular period on time. I went 3 mths without a period! I was starting perimenopause. (Just had to stop typing to scratch my scalp!) Anyway, i finally insisted that the doctor run a complete and thorough blood test on me to check for anything and everything. Well, the good news is that i am not going to die but the bad news is “We can’t find anything wrong with you, however your hormones are showing you are “Probably perimenopausal” YOU RECKON!! The doctors offered no help, so i have insisted on HRT (very low dose) and a sleep aid, which they gladly gave me, i think to get me out of the office for a few weeks. Anyway, I have always been a healthy person, never sick, no meds until now. Can’t believe it, The rashes and itching on my body have calmed down, but my scalp is driving me CRAZY! Going back to the Dr. this month, to discuss my progress. I am miserable! Can’t focus, Can’t concentrate, Well, this is my story. I have to go now to massage some coconut oil into my scalp, hopefully for a little relief. I have found that Head & shoulders shampoo Purely Gentle Scalp Care helps some too. It does help knowing that I am not alone. I hope you all find some relief too! It is a shame that doctors don’t know more about how to help women with perimenapause.

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susie August 6, 2014 at 6:01 am

I’m 47, in full menapause. I take black cohosh for the hot flashes, which is working for me atm. I did have to increase the dose once. I get itchy legs, which are now sore and a sore sight, from all the scratching. I have read all the comments on here and find it unbelievable that so many women have the same condition with itching. Why is there no cure? Why isn’t the medical profession aware of this and how it is stopping young and older women from leading a normal life?????? I will continue my search for remedies. Magnesium supplements and epsom salts for the bath seem to help some people. Good luck everyone

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Janet August 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I have been menopausal with no symptoms until last night. Had one ovary removed yesterday and was wondering if I would start having night sweats. Woke up with severe itching all over various parts of my body last night. Abdomen, back, scalp, behind the ears, legs, butt. This went off and on all night long. After waking about the fourth time like this I started to wonder if it was hormonal. Couldn’t sleep so I went on the internet to investigate. Found other women ate experiencing this during menopause. Worse at night. Called my surgeon today. He didn’t thing it hormonal and recommended antihistamine. I am somewhat convinced It is hormonal and hope it doesn’t continue to be problem. Still itchy today but much less so and tolerable. The night itching was just plain awful. Trying to get well hydrated today and have Benadryl and anti-itch lotion in case I need it tonight. Glad I found these blogs.

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Monica August 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I am so thankful for finding this page!!! I started itching like crazy all over my body few weeks ago. I’m 45 and my periods have gotten lighter eventhough I’m still very regular. I never thought about menopause until I started with this itching and a weird feeling of being worried for no reason. Is this sensation of nervousness something normal during perimenopause?? I will have to see my gyn next week. There most be something I can take to decrease this symptoms right??

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