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Reasons why your Skin Itches and some Available Treatments

Updated on December 13, 2016

Itchy skin syndrome

Itchy skin
Itchy skin

The itchy skin syndrome

I remember very well certain times in twelfth grade, when entering the bathroom was a nightmare, not so much for bathing than for how I felt right after the shower. My skin would itch all over, from my face to my back, arms, thighs and legs.

As a quick fix to the problem, I’d apply body lotion very quickly, thinking that my skin was dry and would calm after it becomes moistened. While the lotion approach worked most of the time, I still suspected that the underlying cause of the itching hadn’t been solved. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, please know that you are not alone.

Today, I’ll discuss skin-itching in general. Furthermore, I’ll explore some of the causes of an itchy skin, and how to treat the condition for good.

Causes of itchy skin

Being the largest organ and outer covering of the body, the skin, when itchy, can be extremely uncomfortable; therefore, it’s very important that the underlying cause of an itchy skin is treated, and quickly so. What are the underlying causes of an itchy skin? The list ranges from simple reasons, like a mere dryness of the skin itself, to more complicated reasons, like iron deficiency anemia – also known as low levels of iron in the body. I’ll explore the list in the sections below.

A dry skin can cause itching.

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense when it comes to fighting off dirt and other disease-causing organisms. To do its job well, the skin is composed of, among other things, natural oils and moisture that keep it replenished and sleek all the time. However, when such moisture and natural oils run out, the skin is said to be dry.

Symptoms of dry skin are when the skin becomes scaly, itchy or cracked. Dry skin is caused by a number of factors including: staying in hot showers for long periods, an act that dries out the oils in the skin; staying in less-humid weather such as winter, where there’s little moisture in the air to keep the skin moist; and old age, during which the skin produces less moisture than it used to.

Symptom of an underlying disease

Second, an itchy skin may be a symptom of underlying internal diseases including but not limited to: liver disease, kidney failure, iron deficiency anemia, thyroid problems, cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, and improper absorption of wheat by the body. Let’s take iron deficiency anemia as an example. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition whereby the body lacks iron. Iron is a mineral that transports oxygen from our lungs to different parts of our bodies, thereby giving us energy to do physical work.

When not pregnant, women between 19-50 yrs. need 18mg of iron daily. Reasonably so, the amount increases to 27mg per day for pregnant women of the same age. Men usually need 8mg of iron per day. The skin, in particular, uses the oxygen from iron for its glow and moisture. Therefore, apart from lethargy, the itching and paleness of the skin is the body’s way of indicating that it doesn’t have enough iron.

Dermatitis is another cause of itchy skin. Being the outer covering of the human body, the human skin is made up of layers of tissues, so that it can protect the internal organs, muscles and bones of the body. One of such layers, called Dermis, is credited for cushioning the body from stress and strain.

The Dermis also houses, among other things, nerve endings and blood vessels, making it responsible for skin’s sense of touch, heat and cold. When the Dermis becomes swollen, the condition is referred to as Dermatitis. Dermatitis is the skin’s response to anything that irritates it, including but not limited to: strong detergents and soaps, certain perfumes, disinfectants, certain dyes and resins in clothes, and certain medicines. In addition to swelling, another symptom of dermatitis is an itchy skin.

Treatment of itchy skin

How can you treat an itchy skin? Considering that itchy skin is not a condition that causes itself but rather a symptom of other diseases/conditions within the body, it is important to treat the underlying courses first; only then can the problem of an itchy skin be cured completely. Like I described in the beginning of this post, my itchy skin always happened after I had taken a shower in the bathroom.

According to my doctor, the cause was a combination of iron deficiency anemia and an unclean bath towel. I began to incorporate iron-rich foods such as spinach, clams and smoked herrings, into my diet. Also, I adopted the practice of washing my bath towel once every week, instead of every other week. These measures went a long way to cure my itchy skin; indeed, I’m delighted to say that my condition is no more.

As for those whose itchy skin is a result of dryness and dermatitis, I’ll advice that you avoid staying in hot showers for long periods; if you can, use lukewarm water or avoid hot water altogether so that the oil and moisture reserves in your skin don’t dry out. Furthermore, you want to observe your skin, noting all substances, including soaps, resins, detergents, etc., that irritate your skin and make you itch.

I hope you found this useful. Here’s to a healthy skin!

Itchy skin

Itchy skin
Itchy skin

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      This is very useful and informative! Itchy skin is a common problem especially during winter season.

      Hope this will help many.

      Thanks for sharing!