Updated September 7, 2023
If you have itchy skin, you’re not alone. Itching is one of the most common skin complaints, with many potential causes. There are no shortage of things that can make your skin itch, from allergies, eczema, psoriasis and more.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 reasons and possible causes for itchy skin. We’ll also discuss how to treat the underlying causes and get relief for your itching.
So if you’re itching to know why you’re so itchy, read on for some potential answers.
Skin that is dry one of the most common conditions that cause itchy skin. Dry skin is simply (and perhaps a bit obviously) a lack of moisture. When your skin is moist, it has more flexibility and elasticity, which helps it better withstand the wear and tear of everyday life. It is able to better protect you from the environment and heal itself more effectively.
When your skin is dry, it can become irritated and itchy. It’s is more susceptible to damage and infection, and it can be more difficult to treat.
If you have dry skin, you may notice that your skin is flaky, rough or scaly. It may feel tight, especially after bathing. Your dry skin may also be more prone to cracking and bleeding.
Dry skin can have many causes, including weather, dehydration, certain soaps and detergents, as well as some medications such as those used to treat acne or high blood pressure.
Let’s take a closer look at each:
Cold, dry weather can sap moisture from your skin, leaving it dry, cracked and itching. This is especially true in winter, when the air is cold and lacking in humidity.
Be sure to dress warmly when going outside in cold weather, and consider using a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.
When you’re not getting or retaining enough fluids, your skin can become dehydrated. This can happen during exercise, especially in dry, hot weather or simply from not drinking enough water during the day. Dehydration can make your skin dry, cracked and itchy.
If you think you may be dehydrated, drink more water and other fluids throughout the day. You can also try using a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.
Soaps and detergents
Some soaps and detergents can strip away the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and irritated. Look for products that are marked “gentle” or “for sensitive skin.”
Some medications can cause dry skin. These include acne medications, antihistamines and drugs used to treat high blood pressure. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you think your medication is causing dry skin.
Regardless of the reason for your dry skin, it’s always a good move to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water and use a moisturizer that suits your skin type to help prevent and treat dry skin. Moisturizers with shea butter are particularly beneficial to dry skin.
By following these simple tips, you can help to keep your skin rich in moisture, healthy and itch-free.
Allergies are a common problem that can cause a variety of symptoms, including itchiness. When you’re allergic to something, your immune system reacts to it as if it’s a threat- even though it may actually be rather harmless. This reaction can cause itchiness, redness, swelling, and other issues.
Allergies can be caused by anything from pollen to pet dander to certain foods. If you’re experiencing itching, it’s important to figure out what’s causing the problem so you can avoid exposure to the allergen and get the appropriate treatment.
For example, if you’re allergic to pollen, you may need to stay indoors on days when the pollen count is high. If you’re allergic to felines, stay away from your neighborhood cat lady.
Allergies can usually be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. If you’re not sure what’s causing your allergy symptoms, see a doctor so they can help you identify the allergen and get the right treatment.
They may ask you to keep a journal of your symptoms and when they occur to help them narrow down the potential causes. They may also do what’s called a skin panel test, which involves placing a small amount of potential allergens on your skin and then observing how your skin reacts.
Once you have a clear idea of what your allergic inclinations are, you’ll soon be on your way to itch-free dermatological nirvana.
Hives are itchy, raised welts that can appear on any part of your body. They’re usually the result of an allergic reaction, but they can also be caused by other things, such as stress or viral infections.
If you have hives, try to figure out what’s causing them so you can avoid the trigger. In the case that they’re due to an allergy, you’ll need to get rid of whatever is causing the reaction. If they’re stress-related, you may need to find ways to manage your stress better.
Hives can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter medications like antihistamines. If the hives are severe or don’t respond to treatment, see a doctor.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin, which can lead to itching, redness, and dryness. In severe cases, the skin may crack or bleed. While eczema is not contagious, it can be very uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema; but there are ways to manage the symptoms and keep the condition under control.
The best way to treat eczema is with a combination of topical medications and moisturizers.
Topical medications help to reduce inflammation and irritation, while moisturizers help to soothe dry, sensitive skin. In some cases, light therapy may also be recommended. If you suffer from eczema, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. It can often be confused with eczema.
Psoriasis can be treated with topical medications and ultraviolet light therapy. Itching is a common symptom of psoriasis, and can be treated with antihistamines or other medications.
If you have psoriasis, it’s important to keep your skin moisturized and avoid scratching. Scratching can cause the skin to crack, bleed, or become infected.
Insect bites or stings
This one is one of the most common causes of itching. There’s no shortage of bugs that like to bite people. From spiders and bedbugs, to no-see-ums and chiggers, insect bites and stings can cause intense itching. This is especially true if you’re allergic to the insect’s venom.
Treatment for insect bites and stings usually includes applying ice and antihistamine creams or pills. If you’re severely allergic to the insect’s venom, you’ll need to be treated with epinephrine and may need to go to the hospital.
If you have a severe reaction to an insect sting, see a doctor immediately.
Scabies is a parasite that causes intense itching, especially at night time. This parasite can be identified by the presence of small burrows on the skin.
Your first instinct might be horror at the thought of small parasites burrowing into your skin. However… you’re right. It’s horrifying to think about.
Luckily, scabies can be treated with a prescription topical medication that kills the mites. The medication is usually applied to the skin in the form of a cream or lotion such as permethrin cream or malathion lotion. Keep in mind that the entire body must be treated, and all clothing and bedding must be washed.
If you think you have scabies, see a doctor so you can get treatment.
If you’ve been around avid campers, there’s a good chance that you’d heard a story or two about how poison ivy, oak, and sumac can cause an extremely itchy skin rash.
The good news is that these plants are not actually poisonous. The bad news is that they contain an oil called urushiol which can cause an itchy rash when in contact with the skin.
If you come into contact with the oil from one of these plants, shower or wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel itchy right away. The skin irritation and rash usually appears within 12-48 hours after exposure and lasts for several weeks.
You can also apply an itch relief cream like Dermeleve® to the affected and itchy area to help relieve the itching.
If you have a severe reaction, see a doctor.
Not all the causes of itch are physical.
In some cases, stress can be causing the itching. When you’re stressed, your body produces more histamines than usual. These histamines can cause itchiness, redness, and swelling.
Stress can also make other conditions worse, such as eczema and psoriasis. In some cases, worrying if you are going to start itching can actually cause enough stress that you actually do start itching! This is known as psychogenic pruritus.
If you think stress is causing your itch, there are a number of relaxation techniques you can try, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. You can also talk to a therapist about ways to manage your stress.
Yes, as counterintuitive as it may seem, scratching can actually make your itching worse. When you scratch, you irritate your skin and increase the inflammation. This can lead to more itching and even infection.
It’s a vicious cycle known as the itch-scratch cycle. So if you’re itchy, one of the best things you can do to stop the itch is to resist the urge to scratch.
This is why an important first step to solving the reason for the itch is actually to relieve the itch itself. Pretty meta, huh?
There’s no better way to do just that than to use Dermeleve®. With skin-healthy ingredients like ceramides, shea butter and vitamins C & E, Dermeleve® starts working fast, and lasts for hours. Formulated without harmful corticosteroids like hydrocortisone, Dermeleve® is safe for frequent, long term use.
But more importantly, it helps to break the itch-scratch cycle by reducing inflammation and allowing your skin to heal. So it not only gives you immediate relief from the itch, but it also helps to solve the underlying issues.
As you can tell, there are no shortage of potential reasons for itchy skin, and we’ve only just scratched the surface (pardon the pun).
If your skin is itchy and you’re not readily identifying the reason why, it’s important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause.
Chances are it’s something that’s easy to resolve. But there are some serious conditions that can cause itching, so it’s always best to get checked out by a professional.
In the meantime, do yourself a favor and reach for some Dermeleve®.
Q: What are the top reasons for itchy skin?
A: The top 10 reasons for itchy skin include dry skin, weather, dehydration, soaps and detergents, medications, allergies, hives, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, plants insect bites, hormonal changes.
Q: What is itchy skin?
A: Itchy skin, also known as pruritus, is a sensation that makes you want to scratch your skin. It can occur with or without a rash.
Q: What are the symptoms and causes of itchy skin?
A: The symptoms of itchy skin include a sensation that makes you want to scratch your skin. The causes can vary depending on the individual and may be due to underlying conditions such as thyroid issues, liver disease, skin cancer, or certain skin conditions.
Q: Can skin cancer cause itchy skin?
A: Yes, in some cases, skin cancer can cause itchy skin. It is important to consult a doctor if you experience persistent itching that is not relieved by home remedies or if there are other concerning symptoms.
Q: Can liver disease cause itchy skin?
A: Yes, liver disease can cause itchy skin. When the liver is not functioning properly, it can lead to a buildup of bile salts, which can result in itching.
Q: Can thyroid issues cause itchy skin?
A: Yes, thyroid issues can cause itchy skin. Imbalances in thyroid hormone levels can affect the skin and make it more prone to itching.
Q: How can I determine the cause of my itchy skin?
A: The cause of your itchy skin can be determined by a healthcare professional. They may perform a physical examination, review your medical history, and conduct tests to identify any underlying conditions or triggers.
Q: What are some home remedies for itchy skin?
A: Some home remedies for itchy skin include applying moisturizers, using cool compresses, taking oatmeal baths, avoiding harsh soaps or detergents, and keeping the skin well-hydrated.
Q: When should I see a doctor for my itchy skin?
A: You should see a doctor for your itchy skin if it persists for more than a few weeks, is not relieved by home remedies, is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or if it affects your daily life and sleep.
Q: Can itchy skin be a sign of an underlying condition?
A: Yes, itchy skin can be a sign of an underlying condition such as thyroid issues, liver disease, or certain skin conditions. If you are experiencing persistent itching, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.