Itchy Skin Causes, Prevention, Symptoms And Treatment


Itchy skin gives you an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. Itchy skin, sometimes referred to as pruritus, is frequently brought on by dry skin. Given that aging skin tends to get drier, older people frequently experience it.

Your skin may seem normal, red, rough, or bumpy depending on what is making you scratch. Scratching often might result in elevated, thick regions of skin that could bleed or infect.

Self-care techniques like regular moisturizing, using soft cleansers, and taking moderate baths can help a lot of individuals. Finding and treating the source of itchy skin symptoms is necessary for long-term relief. Wet bandages, medicated creams, and oral anti-itch medications are typical therapies.

The medical term for itching is pruritus. You feel the desire to scrape your skin to gain relief from the ailment. An underlying medical condition, contact with an irritant, or a pharmaceutical response are a few of the potential reasons for pruritus. The course of treatment depends on what makes your skin itch.

A region of your body may have localized or widespread pruritus, which can be unpleasant or irritating.

The symptom of an underlying illness might be pruritus. There are several potential reasons, but the most frequent ones are coming into contact with an allergy, dry skin, pregnancy, and your body's response to treatment. If you have pruritus and itches for six weeks or longer, it may become chronic.

Everyone will have pruritus at some point in their life. Each person experiences the severity and frequency differently.  You are more likely to have it if any of the following apply to you:

  • Are at least 65 years old.
  • Possess allergies
  • To possess a hidden illness, such as diabetes, psoriasis, or eczema.
  • Are expecting.
  • On hemodialysis.


Skin irritation factors include:

Skin problems. Hives, burns, scars, insect bites, psoriasis, xerosis, eczema (dermatitis), scabies, and parasites are a few examples.

Internal maladies. Whole-body itching might be a sign of an underlying condition such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, liver disease, renal disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid issues, or thyroid difficulties.

Nerve conditions. Examples include shingles, pinched nerves, and multiple sclerosis (herpes zoster).

Psychiatric disorders. Examples include sadness, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Allergic responses and irritability. The skin can get irritated by wool, chemicals, soaps, and other things, which can result in rashes and itching. An allergic response can sometimes be brought on by chemicals, such as poison ivy or cosmetics. Additionally, adverse pharmacological responses, including those from narcotic painkillers (opioids), can result in skin itching. There are situations when it is unclear what causes itching.

How to check if you have Itchy Skin?

If the itching persists and you face the following symptoms, consult a dermatologist or your doctor.

  • Two weeks or longer, and does not get better with self-care methods
  • Is intense and keeps you from going about your regular activities or keeps you from going to sleep
  • Has a quick onset that is difficult to describe and affects your entire body
  • Often accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, night sweats, or weight loss.
  • Visit a dermatologist to be assessed for skin disease if the issue continues despite therapy for three months. To be assessed for further disorders, it can also be essential to consult an internal medicine specialist (internist).


A scalp, an arm, a leg, or the entire body may be affected by itchy skin. Without any other obvious skin changes, itchy skin might happen. Or it can be related to:

  • Redness
  • Scratching signs
  • Blotches, bumps, or blisters
  • Cracked, dry skin
  • Scaly or leathery patches

The itching can occasionally be severe and linger for a long period. It is itchier as you massage or scrape the region. And the more you scratch, the more itches there are. Stopping the itch-and-scratch cycle could be difficult.


Treatment for itchy skin focuses on getting rid of the itch itself. Your doctor could suggest prescription drugs or other therapies if home methods do not relieve the itching skin. It can be difficult to manage the symptoms of itchy skin, and long-term therapy may be necessary. Options consist of:

Creams and ointments containing corticosteroids. Your doctor could advise using a medicinal cream or ointment on the afflicted regions if your skin is red and irritated. The treated skin might then be covered with a moist cotton cloth. Moisture provides a cooling impact and aids in the skin's ability to absorb medicines.

Your doctor could suggest the following night regimen if you suffer from chronic conditions or intense itching: Apply triamcinolone after taking a 20-minute bath in lukewarm water alone. Ointment to the wet area: 0.25% to 0.1% skin. This holds the moisture and aids in the drug's absorption. After that, put on an old pair of pyjamas. For many evenings, repeat this ritual before you go to sleep.

Additional creams and ointments. Tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus are calcineurin inhibitors that are used in additional skin therapies (Elidel). Or you could get some comfort from doxepin, capsaicin, or topical anesthetics.

Drugs administered orally. Some varieties of persistent itch may be relieved by antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), and tricyclic antidepressants, such as doxepin. Some of these medications may take 8 to 12 weeks after commencing therapy before you get their full benefits.

Luminous therapy (phototherapy). Your skin will be exposed to a specific kind of light during phototherapy. For some who cannot take oral medications, this may be a useful alternative. Until the itching is under control, you will probably require several phototherapy treatments.

Complications of Itchy Skin

Chronic pruritus, or extremely itchy skin that persists for longer than six weeks, can have a negative impact on your quality of life. It can prevent you from sleeping, and make you anxious or depressed. Long-term scratching and itching can make the itch worse and raise the risk of skin damage, infection, and scarring.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 15, 2023

Next review due: Mar 15, 2025

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