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Itchy Skin

itchy-skin

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By Medicover Hospitals / 17 Feb 2021
Home | symptoms | itchy-skin
  • A feeling of discomfort and itching that creates an urge to scratch can affect any part of the body. The itching can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include hair regrowth, sunburn, insect bites, dry skin, or healing wounds.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is Itchy Skin?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a doctor?
    6. Home Remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What is Itchy Skin?

  • Itchy skin is an uncomfortable itching sensation that makes you want to scratch. Also known as pruritus, itchy skin is often caused by dry skin. This is common in older people, as the skin tends to become drier with age.
  • Depending on the cause of your itching, your skin may appear normal, red, rough, or bumpy. Repeated scratching can cause thick raised areas of the skin that can bleed or become infected.
  • Many people find relief through self-care measures such as daily hydration, the use of gentle cleansers, and bathing in lukewarm water. Long-term relief requires identifying and treating the cause of the itchy skin. Common treatments are medicated creams, wet dressings, and oral anti-itch medications.
  • Causes:

  • There are many reasons why your skin may itch. Here is a list of some causes:
  • Dry Skin:

    • Scaling, itching, and cracking
    • Most common on the legs, arms, and abdomen
    • Can often be resolved with lifestyle changes

    Food Allergy:

    • This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be needed. Occurs when your immune system reacts inappropriately to common substances in food or drink.
    • Symptoms range from mild to severe and include sneezing, itchy eyes, swelling, rash, hives, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
    • Depending on the response of your immune system, symptoms may appear minutes to hours after consuming a food causing an allergic reaction.
    • Common allergy-triggering foods include: cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, and soy

    End-stage Renal Disease:

  • An autoimmune disease that has a wide variety of symptoms that affect many different body systems and organs.
  • A wide range of skin and mucous membrane symptoms ranging from rashes to ulcers, Classic butterfly-shaped rash that crosses from cheek to cheek on the nose and Skin rashes may appear or worsen with sun exposure
  • Candida:

    • Usually occurs in skin folds (armpits, buttocks, under the breasts, between the fingers and toes)
    • Starts as an itchy, tingling, and red rash with a wet appearance and a dry scab on the edges.
    • Progress to cracked, painful skin with blisters and pustules that can be infected with bacteria

    Biliary (bile duct) Obstruction:

    • This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be needed.
    • Most commonly caused by gallstones, but can also be caused by liver or gallbladder injury, inflammation, tumors, infections, cysts, or liver damage.
    • Yellowing of the skin or eyes, extremely itchy skin without a rash, pale stools, very dark urine.
    • Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever.
    • The obstruction can cause a serious infection that requires urgent medical attention.

    Cirrhosis:

    • Diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss, belly swelling
    • Easy bruising and bleeding
    • Small spider-shaped blood vessels visible under the skin
    • Yellowing of the skin or eyes and itching of the skin

    Ragweed Allergy:

    • Watery, itchy eyes
    • Sore throat or sore throat
    • Runny nose, congestion, and sneezing
    • Sinus pressure

    Diaper Rash:

    • Rash located on areas in contact with a diaper
    • The skin is red, moist, and itchy
    • Warm to the touch

    Allergic Reaction:

    • This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be needed
    • Rashes occur when your immune system reacts to allergens in the skin
    • Itching and raised marks that appear minutes to hours after skin contact with an allergen
    • Red, itchy, scaly rash that may appear hours to days after skin contact with an allergen
    • Severe and sudden allergic reactions can cause swelling and difficulty breathing which require emergency attention

    Athlete’s foot:

    • Itching, stinging, and burning between the toes or on the soles of the feet
    • Blisters on itchy feet
    • Discolored, thick, and crumbly nails
    • Raw skin on the feet

    Contact Dermatitis:

    • Appears hours to days after contact with an allergen
    • The rash has visible edges and appears where your skin touched the irritant
    • The skin is irritated, red, scaly, or raw
    • Blisters that weep, ooze or get crusty

    Flea bites:

    • Usually located in clusters on the lower legs and feet
    • Red itchy bump surrounded by a red halo
    • Symptoms start immediately after being bitten

    Hives:

    • Itching and raised marks that occur after exposure to an allergen
    • Red, warm, and slightly painful to the touch
    • Can be small, round, and ring-shaped or large and randomly shaped

    Allergic eczema:

    • It may look like a burn
    • Often found on the hands and forearms
    • The skin is irritated, red, scaly, or raw
    • Blisters that weep, ooze, or get crusty

    Rashes:

    • This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be needed.
    • Defined as a noticeable change in the color or texture of the skin
    • It can be caused by many factors, including insect bites, allergic reactions, drug side effects, fungal skin infections, bacterial skin infections, infectious diseases, or autoimmune diseases.
    • Many rash symptoms can be managed at home, but severe rashes, especially those seen in combination with other symptoms such as fever, pain, dizziness, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, may require urgent medical treatment.

    Impetigo:

    • Common in babies and children
    • A rash is often located in the area around the mouth, chin, and nose
    • Itchy rashes and fluid-filled blisters that appear easily and form a honey-colored crust

    Ringworm:

    • Circular rash with a raised border
    • The skin in the middle of the ring looks clear and healthy, and the edges of the ring may extend outward
    • Itchy

    Diagnosis:

  • Finding the cause of your itching can take time and involve a physical exam and questions about your medical history. If your doctor thinks your itchy skin is the result of a health problem, you may have some tests, including:
    • Blood test: A complete blood count may provide evidence of an internal condition that is causing your itching, such as anemia.
    • Thyroid, liver, and kidney function tests: Liver or kidney problems and thyroid abnormalities, such as hyperthyroidism, can be itchy.
    • Chest x-rays: A chest x-ray can show if you have enlarged lymph nodes, which may accompany itchy skin.

    Treatment:

  • The treatment plan will depend on the cause of the itching. For people who suffer from dry skin, a good moisturizer may suffice.
    • Eczema, dermatitis, or hives: A skin specialist with corticosteroid creams may recommend these and other skin conditions. These can be applied directly to the skin to relieve the itching. Topical calcineurin inhibitors and oral antihistamines can also help relieve itching.
    • Allergies: Oral antihistamines are common anti-allergic drugs. They can be prescribed or purchased online. Examples include Zyrtec, Claritin, and Benadryl.
    • Fungal infections: Ringworm, athlete's foot, and other fungal infections can be treated with antifungal therapy. Topical treatments include creams and shampoos. For severe infections, the doctor may prescribe oral medication. Terbinafine, or Lamisil, is commonly used.
    • Insect bites and stings: Topical antihistamines can relieve itching. To prevent bites, use insect repellent, keep mosquito nets in good condition, and keep your body covered with clothing.
  • People with psoriasis or kidney failure may be recommended for alternative treatments if there is reason to avoid drug treatment. Light therapy or phototherapy is one such treatment method. Treatment involves exposing the skin to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light to help control the itchiness.
  • When to visit a Doctor?

  • Seek immediate medical attention if you:
    • Having trouble breathing or swallowing
    • I have itching all over
    • Swell a lot and feel discomfort
  • Make an appointment with a doctor if you:
    • I don't know why you itch
    • Try self-treatment but it doesn't help
    • Have persistent itching
    • I cannot sleep or do daily activities

    Home Remedies:

  • The following home remedies can help reduce itching:
    • Use a high-quality moisturizer on the skin and apply it at least once or twice a day
    • Apply an anti-itch cream, such as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, to the area to help relieve the itching. Hydrocortisone cream is available for purchase online.
    • Apply a cool, wet compress to the affected area
    • Take a lukewarm bath
    • Choose mild soaps without dyes or perfumes and use a mild or unscented detergent when washing. Various products for sensitive skin are available for purchase online, including laundry detergent and soaps.
    • Avoiding substances that irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction such as nickel, jewelry, and wool.
  • Perhaps the most important self-care measure is to avoid scratching. Scratching can ultimately lead to further inflammation and damage to the skin and can make the itching worse.
  • If over-the-counter creams don't work, if a rash spreads, or if a person has additional symptoms beyond itching, they should see a doctor or skin specialist to identify the cause and treat the particular problem.
  • Frequently Asked Questions:

  • There are many possible causes, but for some people with pruritus, no obvious cause can be found. Generalized itching without a rash is most often caused by dry skin. It can also be caused by medications or internal diseases affecting the body.
  • In addition to your body's natural circadian rhythms, several health conditions can make itchy skin worse at night. These include skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis and hives, insects like scabies, lice, bedbugs and pinworms.
  • The itching associated with liver disease tends to get worse in the late evening and overnight. Some people may itch in an area, such as a limb, the soles of their feet, or the palms of their hands, while others experience a complete itch.
  • Itching usually has a simple and common cause. But in some cases, if it does not go away, it could be a sign of serious illness like kidney disease, liver disease.
  • Citations:

  • Itchy skin - https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article/22/suppl_5/v3/1807078?login=true
  • Of flaky tails and itchy skin - https://www.nature.com/articles/ng0509-512