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Itchy Skin - Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, Home Remedies

Updated on December 3, 2013

What is an Itchy skin?

Itchy skin is an irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch and it can be uncomfortable. It is also known by the medical terminology "pruritus". Itchy skin can happen to anyone of any age, race, or gender as there are many different reasons to have itchy skin. It is more of a symptom than a medical condition and can be a symptom of many medical disorders ranging from mild to serious. It is an inflammatory reaction of your skin and can cover just a small area or your whole body. Depending on what is causing your itchy skin determines how frequent you have it, how long you are going to have it, and how severe it will be. Being a symptom it can occur by itself or with other symptoms.

Symptoms

When you have itchy skin it can occur in a small area like on your leg, arm, or neck, or it can occur on large areas like your back or stomach. It can happen without any other changes that are noticeable on your skin. It can also be associated with any of the following:

  • Redness in the area that itches
  • Having blisters, bumps, or spots
  • Skin that is cracked and dry
  • Your skin may have a scaly or leathery texture to it.

It is advisable to see your physician or dermatologist if you have itchy skin that:

  • Does not improve with home remedies
  • Last longer than fourteen days
  • Is uncomfortable, really severe, prevents you from getting a good night sleep, or causes a distraction in your daily routine.
  • It cannot be easily explained.
  • It affects the whole body.
  • You have other symptoms like weight loss, changes in your urinary frequency, have a fever, being extremely tired, and the skin is red, or you have a change in your bowel habits.
  • You have flu-like symptoms like cough, aches, pains, headache
  • Joint pain

Symptoms that could be serious and lead to a life-threatening condition:

  • Having difficulty breathing accompanied by a swollen face or tongue.
  • Any change in level of consciousness, including fainting.
  • Having a fever higher than one hundred one degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of your face, tongue, mouth or lips.

Causes

There can many reasons that a person has itchy skin. Some of the reasons may include:

  • Having an allergic reaction to certain things such as pollen, lacquer, certain foods, plants like poison oak and poison ivy, hair dye, cosmetics, chemicals and more. When this is the cause the itchy can last for several hours or it could go on for several days.
  • Autoimmune disease which are caused by the immune system acting abnormally. It will trigger antibodies against the body’s own tissues and can lead to severe itchy skin in some people. Some of those autoimmune diseases that can lead to itchy skin include vasculitis, systemic sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Having a disorder of your central nervous system can have itchy skin as a symptom but not all the time. If you are suffering from a disorder such as a tumor or brain abscess you can have the itchy skin symptom. You could also have itchy skin as a symptom from epidural anesthesia that results from having an injection of anesthetic into your epidural space of your spinal cord.
  • Having dermatitis which is a skin inflammation that is non-infectious and is characterized by a rash that is itchy and red. It can be caused by ingesting, touching, or inhaling certain things. Some of the more prominent types of dermatitis that can cause itchy skin include atopic dermatitis, photodermatitis, contact dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis.
  • Having dry skin, also known as xerosis is a very common cause of itchy skin. It can be caused by temperatures that are low or high with humidity levels that are low.
  • Hormonal disorders or imbalances in hormones can also lead to having itchy skin. In women it could happened during the later months of their pregnancy or during menopause. It could also be a complication of diabetes.
  • Being bit by an insect can cause itchy skin that last for a few hours or up to several days.
  • Irritants such as laundry detergent or soap can lead to itchy skin.
  • Having an allergic reaction to certain medications
  • Have a nutrient deficiency such as a deficiency in vitamin A and iron. If you lack vitamin C you can disrupt the formation of collagen and cause the itchy skin.
  • Excessive sweating can also cause you to have itchy skin.

Treatment

Before any treatment can be started the physician must first find out what is causing your itchy skin. Once the cause has been identified your physician may:

  • Have you use corticosteroid creams that are applied to the area to help control the itch. They can be purchased over-the-counter or the physician can give you a prescription for a stronger cream. After applying the cream you should cover it with a cotton material that is damp.
  • Have you use oral antihistamines.
  • Treat the disease that is causing your itchy skin.
  • Using light therapy to help get the itching under control.

Home Remedies

If your itchy skin is due to dry skin, an insect bite, and does not appear to be serious or causing any other symptoms, you can try some of these home remedies to help with the itching.

  • Applying an anti-itch lotion or cream to the area with at least one percent hydrocortisone can help to relieve the itch.
  • Apply wet, cool compresses
  • Take a cool bath in which you have sprinkled uncooked oatmeal, or baking soda.
  • If it is caused by soaps or detergents, change it to mild soaps and make sure that they do not contain any perfumes or dyes.
  • For itchiness that is caused by dry skin you can use a humidifier in the wintertime so your rooms stay humid and not dry. You should also use moisturizers on your skin that will help keep your skin soft and moist.
  • Use aloe Vera either from a plant or get a ready-to-use aloe Vera product from the store. Aloe Vera has both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that will help with your itchy.
  • If you sweat a lot you should wear clothes that let your skin breath. You should not be wearing tight fitting pants and jeans, and you should try to wear cotton instead of synthetic clothes.
  • Make sure that you use the right type of sun screen when out in the sun to help prevent dryness of your skin.
  • Keep your body well hydrated.

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