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!