Formication (Crawling Skin) During Perimenopause

February 02, 2023.

By Lemetria Whitehurst RN

If you’re a perimenopausal woman in the throes of this often perplexing time, then you may have no doubt experienced some weird sensations. However, if you find yourself dealing with unpleasant crawling and itching sensations, you may be dealing with menopause formication–the overwhelming feeling that your skin is covered in something invisible to the eye.

In this latest post, we’ll take a deep dive into formication, from its definition and potential causes to available preventative strategies and treatments for this annoying sensation.

What is Formication?

Formication is the feeling that insects are crawling on or under the skin. It is an abnormal sensation of the skin that can feel like prickling, tingling, burning, coldness, or numbness. It can occur anywhere on the body, but is most commonly felt on the hands, arms, legs, feet and scalp. You might need some good news after reading all of that, so here it is: even though it seems like bugs are crawling under your skin-they aren’t.

So, if there aren’t actual bugs on you, what’s happening? Well, it’s called tactile hallucination.

Hallucinations are things that, to the person experiencing them, seem real but are really mental perceptions. Tactile hallucinations occur when you experience sensations of touch on the skin without any physical stimulus.

Formication is a type of tactile hallucination and can be dangerous as it will lead to scratching and picking at the skin to get some sort of relief. This can result in scars and infections from open wounds. Additionally, it might keep you from working or doing anything productive during the day. Formication at night may prevent you from simply getting a good night’s sleep.

What Causes Formication?

While common in perimenopausal women, formication causes are somewhat of a mystery. Some doctors attribute this tingling feeling to hormonal imbalances, particularly with estrogen levels decreasing. Others suggest it could be related to stress or anxiety which are also linked to fluctuations in hormones during perimenopause. Whatever the exact cause, understanding it and its symptoms is essential for getting relief from the uncomfortable feeling of being crawled upon.

How To Treat Formication During Perimenopause

While there is no cure for formication, there are treatments available to help reduce the severity of symptoms. Emollients and moisturizers can soothe itchy skin and aid with dry skin. If itching is keeping you up at night, drowsy antihistamines like chlorphenamine may be a good option for you. With the right treatment for formication, women experiencing annoying symptoms can live healthy and enjoyable lives.

Related: Take Our Menopause Quiz

When To See a Doctor for Treatment

While mild cases may improve with lifestyle modifications, persistent or severe formication is a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires professional attention. You may want to call your doctor if you experience formication along with other changes during perimenopause that greatly affect your daily life or make you anxious or depressed.

In some cases, symptoms could indicate an infection, autoimmune disorder or hypothyroidism which are all treatable conditions. Your doctor will assess potential causes and work with you to create an action plan that involves monitoring, lifestyle habits and medications, depending on the symptoms you are experiencing.

A Few Final Thoughts

All in all, formication can be super annoying to deal with. If you can’t find relief in the treatment options mentioned, consider seeing a doctor for medication. Join Perry, a community of women going through the same thing. Here, you can discuss your symptoms, get tips on how to cope, and find support. Our free app is available in the App Store or Google Play Store. Let us help you through perimenopause and beyond!

Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.

References

British Journal of Oral and maxillofacial surgery. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2023. Available from: https://www.bjoms.com/issue/S0266-4356(17)X0010-7

Moszczynska, A. (2016, September). Neurobiology and clinical manifestations of methamphetamine neurotoxicity. The Psychiatric times. Retrieved January 24, 2023. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6135110/

Juan Juan C;Saiz de la Hoya Zamácola P; (n.d.). Prickling or formication after the use of cocaine. Revista espanola de sanidad penitenciaria. Retrieved January 24, 2023. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30231154/

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