the symptoms of itchy skin

Itchy skin. Photo by Charles Kremenak

Every woman’s body needs a certain level of estrogen in order to function normally. Estrogen is a hormone synthesized from cholesterol and has various functions in the body especially as a girl grows to become a woman. When it gets to a point that estrogen levels in the body drop, it s a likely indicator that a woman is approaching menopause and if not it could be a pointer to other hormonal conditions. Many women may not realize that they are having a manifestation of low estrogen in their systems because the symptoms can be subtle or may even vary from one woman to another. It is important for every woman to know the signs of low estrogen so that they can detect early enough when symptoms begin showing.

There are certain conditions which are indicators of low estrogen levels. They could be physical or mental. The physical conditions include headaches, joint pains, hot flashes, dry skin, bloating, low back pain, palpitations, vaginal dryness, loss of libido among many other signs. On the other hand, the mental conditions associated with low estrogen are fewer and include depression, lapses in memory, mood swings, panic attacks and low self esteem.


Hot Flushes Causes

Hot flashes are one of the commonest signs of low estrogen and most women approaching menopause are aware that they could be experiencing them during that period. By definition, a hot flash is a sudden and intense feeling of warmth that is usually greatly felt in the head, face and neck region where it begins then spreads all over the body. At times it is accompanied by sweating, awareness of heartbeat and feelings of anxiety or panic attacks. It is a momentary thing and disappears after a few minutes only to recur later.

The time of occurrence of hot flashes is the peri-menopause and menopause period. What this means is that the woman will start experiencing them as she approaches menopause and also during menopause itself.

The causes of these episodic and uncomfortable heat flashes are not exactly known but are highly related to changes in the circulation. It is postulated that hot flashes occur when the superficial blood vessels closest to the skin surface dilate to increase the surface area for loss of heat and thus cool the body. Just like we had mentioned, for some women hot flashes are accompanied by sweating and chills, this is just an effort by the body to cool off.

Many women wonder for how long they would have to endure this unpleasant manifestation of low estrogen. Just like the severity varies, the duration of experiencing hot flashes varies from woman to woman and may last for a short while during menopause or continue even thereafter for quite some time.

Knowing that you are going to experience an inevitable body response to changes in your hormonal system, every woman should at least know how to prevent triggers that lead to frequent hot flashes or their increased severity. It would be indeed helpful to keep away from alcohol, spicy foods, cigarette smoke, caffeinated drinks and heat. Apart from such triggers, there are other things that can be done to help improve the unpleasantness of hot flashes. Exercise is very important to this effect and having a daily dose of walking, cycling or regular swimming can really help. Having at least fifteen minutes of deep breathing two times a day is another useful tool to combat hot flashes. It is best to have them done as slow and abdominal breathing in the morning, in the evening and whenever the hot flashes begin. Keeping yourself as well as your bedroom cool at night is also helpful.

In the event of hot flashes occurring, certain measures can also be taken to help alleviate the low estrogen situation. Certain medications can come in handy. Useful medication that does not require prescription includes vitamins like B and E as well as an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. There are others that require a prescription from your doctor and include hormonal drugs like Provera and antidepressants like Paxil.

At some point you may want to talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy which helps prevent hot flashes and also alleviates other signs of low estrogen like vaginal dryness. This form of treatment is recommended for only a short while but even that still carries with it risks to your health including bleeding, fluid retention that may cause bloating and ankle swelling. It is therefore important to weigh the pros and cons with your doctor before settling for the therapy.


Menopause and Itchy Skin

There are a great number of women who know that hot flashes are the only manifestations of menopause on the skin. Contrary to this notion there are other skin manifestations including most commonly experienced, itchy skin. Medically, itchy skin is known as pruritus. Its time of occurrence ranges from the peri-menopause period to within and after menopause.

So, what exactly are the symptoms of itchy skin? Well, they are quite variable and different women experience them in different ways. A number of women experience itchy skin first on the elbows and the T zone of the face. Other women complain of dry and itchy skin on the face, chest, neck and back. For most women, the skin tends to be red, dry and develops rashes or small bumps. Some other women report itchy skin symptoms of formication. This is a type of abnormal touch sensation highlighted by pricking or tingling, numbness and crawling sensations.

Low estrogen levels are attributed to be the cause of itchy skin during menopause. Estrogen normally plays a vital role in maintenance of healthy skin. Most importantly, it plays a role in the production of collagen which is a form of protein that gives strength to all body tissues including the skin. Decreased estrogen therefore impairs this important process. Furthermore, low estrogen levels reduce the body’s intrinsic ability to retain moisture and also impair the production of natural skin oils. The result is dry and itchy skin.
An antidote to itchy skin during menopause would be most welcome. The best way to approach therapy for itchy skin is by using a combination of lifestyle changes and natural treatment. This is way better than using hormonal therapy or invasive medical treatment.

Lifestyle changes incorporate alterations in our day to day activities to prevent situations that may worsen the already dry skin. The first aspect is good diet. This should be diet that contains adequate amounts of vitamin B and omega 3 fatty acids which can be found in animal products like fish and plant products like walnuts and soy. Increased water intake is another factor that is useful for keeping the skin hydrated.

The skin needs to be maintained cool and irritant free and avoiding hot showers is a great way of doing that. Warm water would suffice as compared to hot water that may be harsh and drying on the skin. Use of gentle soaps while showering is necessary to avoid irritating the skin. A nice shower must be accompanied by skin moisturizing using petroleum or mineral oil based moisturizer. For all menopausal women, investing in a quality broad spectrum sunscreen is a plus when actively preventing itchy skin.


We Can Help You

If you think you suffer from the signs of low estrogen, you may be an excellent candidate for bioidentical hormone replacement therepy (BHRT). Make an appointment today to test your hormone levels!