Why Do I Keep Itching?

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Scratching an itch on your skin is as normal as coughing when water goes down the wrong way, so you will rarely notice if it’s something significant. But in fact, there are lots of things going on when your skin starts to itch, and here are some details on why you have itchy skin.

Itchy Skin or Pruritus

The medical term for itchy skin is pruritus.

Itch is described as an irritation, or in some cases - an inflammation of the skin that causes a person to scratch the affected part.

Some cases of itchy skin are concentrated in a particular area while there are cases wherein the itchiness can be felt all over the body. There are even instances when the condition gets worse, especially at night.

What are the possible causes of pruritus?

There are several causes of itchy skin. The common conditions include allergies, anxiety, emotional problems and also stress. The following are some other causes of itchy skin.

Dry Skin

Xerosis or dry skin is a result of environmental factors or ageing. Being exposed to extreme weather conditions or washing excessively or frequently can also cause dry skin. If the affected skin does not display any drastic changes such as bright red bumps, then dry skin is definitely the reason for the itchy feeling.

Drugs

Certain drugs like antibiotics, narcotic pain medications or even antifungal drugs can cause widespread itching and rashes.

Internal Diseases

Having itchy skin can also be an indication of a veiled illness such as cancer (leukemia or lymphoma), iron deficiency anemia, liver disease and also thyroid problems. A person who is diagnosed with any of the aforementioned medical conditions may experience general itching.

Irritation or Allergic Reactions

There are other factors such as products or materials that can cause skin irritation. Some of these products are chemicals, soaps, wool and other substances which can irritate the skin and of course lead to itching.

A person who is allergic to certain kinds of foods may also experience itchiness in some parts of the body. Other causes for allergic reactions and itchiness can come from cosmetic products that do not agree with the person’s skin.

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Nerve Disorders

Any condition that affects the nervous system can cause symptoms such as itchiness. The most common medical conditions that target the nervous system are diabetes mellitus, herpes zoster or shingles, multiple sclerosis and pinched nerves.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause a lot of reactions including experiencing itchiness. The skin condition usually occurs on the thighs and abdomen, mainly because the skin is expanding.

Rashes and Other Skin Conditions

The usual skin conditions that can lead to itchiness are chickenpox, dermatitis or eczema, hives, lice, psoriasis and scabies. The itchiness is usually localized and is characterized by having bumps or blisters, as well as red and irritated skin.

How do you find out what is causing the itching?

The best and most effective way to find out the cause of the condition is to seek professional help from dermatologists or allergists. Doctors specializing in these areas will perform necessary diagnostic tests including a complete medical history of the patient as well as conducting a thorough physical examination.  

There may be instances wherein the itchiness is temporary but it is still best to see a doctor when you experience any of the following:

  • If the whole body is affected
  • If the condition is severe and distracts you from your daily rituals such as sleeping
  • If the itchiness has lasted more than 2 weeks
  • If the condition has worsened even with self-care measures
  • If you are experiencing other signs and symptoms such as fever, extreme fatigue, changes in bowel and urinary movement, red patches in the skin or sudden and unexpected weight loss

How do we treat itchy skin?

As soon as the cause is determined; the physician will recommend a corresponding medication or treatment. The usual medications may include antidepressants, calcineurin inhibitors and corticosteroid creams. The following are a few simple treatments which can also be done at home.

Use Petroleum Jelly

If having dry skin is the culprit, then you need to make sure that your skin is moisturized using a simple ingredient such as petroleum jelly. This product is best for people with the most sensitive skin since petroleum jelly contains no additives and is very gentle to the skin.

Clean your Home and Surroundings

Allergens can also cause itchiness, so the best means of prevention is to make sure that your home is free from dust and dirt. Do not forget to protect your skin when cleaning by wearing gloves and the right outfit.

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