Itching also known as Pruritus, is a skin condition that leads to severe scratching of the affected area. Itching could occur over a specific localized area of the body or all over the body. The excessive scratching may lead to sores or wounds on the skin that could get infected.
Itching may occur due to varied skin conditions such as
- Insect bites
- Allergic reaction to food or medications
- Allergies caused by pollen, plants such as poison ivy, poison oak etc
- Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis
- Fungal infections
- Parasitic infestation like scabies, hair or body lice.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause.
- Kidney and liver disease, thyroid and diabetes
- Clothing such as wool, soaps, perfumes can also cause itching
Itching sensation may begin in localized areas like the arms or legs and may be associated with rashes, sores, blisters, redness or dry skin.
Depending upon the symptoms observed; the onset of the itching, the duration of itching – if it is continuous or intermittent, allergic reactions to food and if the patient is on any medications; the dermatologist would decide upon a treatment plan. The patient is suggested to undergo a blood test or a skin biopsy if the exact cause cannot be determined.
The treatment for itchy skin includes
1. Topical application of creams and ointments – These contain calcineurin inhibitors which help relieve the itch.
2. Corticosteroid creams – These creams or ointments are applied to the affected area and are helpful in reducing the itching.
3. Oral medications – Antihistamines may help relieve the itching.
4. Phototherapy – Skin is exposed to a specific type of light which may help alleviate the condition.
These self care remedies may help relieve the itching.
- 1. Moisturize daily – A hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion like Cetaphil may be applied immediately after a bath and before sleeping at night.
- Use mild cleansers, soaps, shampoos and detergents.
- Avoid contact with skin allergens like chemicals or harsh detergents.
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Reducing stress levels may reduce the itch.