Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. It seems simple. When you itch, you scratch. But itchy skin (pruritus) can have hundreds of possible causes.
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Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. It seems simple. When you itch, you scratch. But itchy skin (pruritus) can have hundreds of possible causes. It may be the result of a rash or another condition, such as psoriasis or dermatitis. Or itchy skin may be a symptom of an internal disease, such as liver disease or kidney failure. Though itchy, your skin may appear normal. Or it may be accompanied by redness, rough skin, bumps or blisters.
Identifying and treating the underlying cause of itchy skin is important for long-term relief. Itchy skin treatments include medications, wet dressings and light therapy. Self-care measures, including anti-itch products and cool baths, can help reduce itching and soothe skin.
Itchy skin may occur in small areas, such as on an arm or leg. Or your whole body may feel itchy. Itchy skin can occur without any other noticeable changes on the skin. Or it may be associated with:
Sometimes itchy skin lasts a long time and can become very intense. As you rub or scratch the area, it gets itchier. And the more it itches, the more you scratch. Breaking this itch-scratch cycle can be challenging.
Itchy skin that isn't accompanied by other obvious skin changes, such as a rash, is most often caused by dry skin (xerosis). Dry skin usually results from environmental factors that you can wholly or partially control. These include hot or cold weather with low humidity levels, long-term use of air conditioning or central heating, and washing or bathing too much.
Other conditions cause itchy skin as well. Skin disorders, internal diseases, allergies and drug reactions top the list.
Prolonged itching and scratching may increase the intensity of the itch, possibly leading to neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus). Neurodermatitis is a condition in which an area of skin that's frequently scratched becomes thick and leathery. The patches can be raw, red or darker than the rest of your skin. Persistent scratching can also lead to a bacterial skin infection and permanent scars or changes in skin color.
Your doctor is likely to conduct a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, including when the itching started, what factors make it better or worse, and how you care for your skin.
You may have certain diagnostic tests — such as blood tests — if your doctor suspects that your itchy skin is the result of an underlying medical condition, such as liver disease or iron deficiency anemia.
Through examination and tests, your doctor may determine that your itching is, in fact, a symptom of another skin condition. Related itchy skin conditions include:
If you would like to know the latest treatment and management strategies, using conventional and scientifically backed complementary medicine and therapies, plus an assortment of helpful tips, hints and lifestyle remedies which will improve your overall quality of life, then call into our pharmacy and we'll be delighted to help.