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Itchy Skin – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Medications

Written by Dr.Mary

Itchy skin is a very irritating, uncomfortable sensation that may make the urge to scratch impossible to resist. It is quite unassuming. When an individual itches somewhere, he/she will scratch. However, skin that is itchy may be caused by hundreds of possibilities. Itchy skin is also referred to as pruritus and can be the product of a rash or additional problem such as dermatitis or psoriasis. Or in some cases, itchy skin can be one of the symptoms of an inner disorder, for example kidney failure or liver disease. Although itchy, the skin may look absolutely typical. Or, it can go together with rough skin, redness, blisters, or bumps.


Diagnosing and managing the causal reason of skin which is itchy is the first step to getting continuing relief. Itchy skin treatments can include wet dressings, medications as well as light therapy. Measures considered self-care, include anti-itching products and baths which are cool, can help as well.

Symptoms of Itchy Skin

Skin which is itchy can occur in very small areas, such as on the arm or leg. Or can occur over the whole body making an individual wanting to scratch everywhere. Itchy skin can happen without any visible or other noticeable changes on the skin. It can be associated with:

  • Bumps, blisters or spots
  • Redness
  • Scaly or leathery surface to the skin
  • Cracked or dry skin

Often itchiness will last for a very long time and may be very intense. And as you scratch or rub the area, it only gets worse. And the itchier it gets, the more you scratch and worse it gets. The challenge is to break this itch-scratch cycle.

An individual should see their primary care physician or a specialist in skin disease – dermatologist – if the itching:

  • Is a problem for more than 2 weeks
  • Does not improve with self-care measures
  • So severe and uncomfortable that an individual is distracted from daily routines or prevented from sleeping
  • Is not able to be explained
  • Affects the whole body

Has other symptoms, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Changes in urinary or bowel frequency
  • Redness of the skin
  • Fever

Causes of Itchy Skin

Dry Skin

Skin which is itchy and that is not accompanied by any skin modifications, for example, a rash, is often caused simply by skin that is dry or xerosis. Skin which is dry normally is caused from factors in the environment that can be influenced. These include cold or hot weather together with humidity levels which are low, air conditioning or central heating used for long period of times, and bathing or washing too often.

Other Probable Causes

Other situations such as internal diseases, skin disorders, drug reactions as well as allergies can as well cause skin to be itchy. These include:

Skin rashes and conditions

Numerous conditions of the skin can cause skin to be itchy, including psoriasis, eczema (dermatitis), scabies, chickenpox, lice, hives as well as dermatographism. It is these cases where itching normally distresses definite areas as well as causes other problems, such as irritated, red skin or blisters and bumps.

Disease of the Internal system

This can include abnormal absorption of wheat (celiac disease), liver disease, kidney failure, thyroid problems, iron deficiency anemia, and cancers, including lymphoma and leukemia. It is these cases where the itching normally affects the total body, instead of just one precise area. The skin can look normal otherwise except for this repeatedly need to scratch itchy area.

Nerve disorders

These are circumstances that upset the nervous system –for example diabetes, multiple sclerosis, nerves that are pinched as well as herpes zoster or shingles – and cause itching.

Allergic and Irritation reactions

Chemicals, wool, soaps and other materials may aggravate the skin and cause intense itching. Often the matter causes what is known as an allergic reaction for example poison ivy or cosmetics. Allergies of food can also cause skin to have itchy reactions.

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Drugs

Drug such as antifungal drugs, antibiotics or narcotic pain drugs can cause itching and rashes which is widespread

Pregnancy

Many women develop skin which is itchy during pregnancy, particularly on the thighs, arms, abdomen and breasts. As well, other itchy skin problems for instance dermatitis can get worse during pregnancy.

Itching and scratching which is prolonged can actually increase the intensity of the itch and this leads to neurodermatitis – lichen simplex chronicus. Neurodermatitis is a condition where the area of skin that is scratched frequently becomes leathery and thick. The patches can become red, raw or darker than the other parts of the skin. Scratching which is persistent may also lead to a bacterial infection of the skin as well as causing permanent scarring as well as changes in color of the skin.

Itchy Skin Treatment

As soon as a cause is diagnosed, treatments for skin which is itchy can include:

Medications

Corticosteroid creams

This is applied topically to control itching. The doctor may advise applying this medicated cream to the affected areas, and then cover the areas with cotton material which is damp with water or other solutions. This moisture in the wet dressings will help the skin to absorb the cream.

Antihistamines Oral

Used for hives or allergies to add with corticosteroid creams for itching for skin inflammation.

Treating the underlying disease

If a disease internally is found, whether it is iron deficiency, thyroid problem, or kidney disease, treating the disease will most of the time relieve the itch.

Light therapy or Phototherapy

Phototherapy encompasses exposing the skin to wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Many sessions are normally scheduled until the itching is under control.

Relief which is short-term:

Even with many kinds of itching responding well to treatment, relief may not always be immediate. But, there are a number of ointments and creams which are specifically created to relieve short-term itching including:

  • Topical anesthetics such as benzocaine or lidocaine
  • Lotions and ointments such as calamine, menthol, or camphor

Although these products can offer immediate relief of the itching, treatment of the causal problem is the most important method for any relief which is long-term.

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