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Say Goodnight To Itching! The Remedy For Itchy Skin At Night

Updated 05/31/23.

Oh, the agony and irritation of itching!

We've all been there. Itchy skin on its own can be bothersome. But there's a special kind of torment when skin itch at night rears its head just as we are drifting off. That late-night scratch-fest is known as nocturnal pruritus. Or, for those of us not fluent in medicalese, nighttime itching. In this article, we'll delve into the itchy world of nocturnal pruritus. And we'll figure out why it seems to get itchier when we're trying to catch those much-needed z's.

We'll do our best to keep it interesting. Though if you find the subject boring, perhaps reading this can help you get to sleep!


Overview of the Symptoms and Causes That Make Your Skin Itch at Night

Nighttime itching can be the bane of a peaceful night's sleep. It lurks in the shadows like a hive army set on bothering us just when we need our rest. Nocturnal pruritus does not discriminate. It affects both the healthy and those with underlying medical conditions. And there is no shortage of factors that cause itchy skin.

Skin itch at night can result from water loss, cancers such as lymphoma, and liver or kidney disease. It can also result in the production of corticosteroids. These chemicals can cause the urge to scratch and interfere with sleep.

But fear not, dear itchy reader, there are options to help soothe your restless skin! Before diving into medical treatments, however, we want to make sure our knowledge is on point. So we turn to academic research institutions and peer-reviewed studies. This helps us to ensure we provide accurate and reliable information for our readers.

One study found that doxepin, a sedative, may help nocturnal pruritus by helping you sleep! For those preferring more natural treatments, colloidal oatmeal could be for you. This soothing ingredient can be found in many over-the-counter medications. It works wonders on itchy and inflamed skin when dissolved in a bath of cool or lukewarm water. It's the perfect nighttime relaxation ritual before bed.

Always remember to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any medical treatments. This goes for making any dietary changes as well; even if those treatments are labeled as natural. In some cases, skin itch at night may be a sign of a more serious condition, chronic pruritus. Linked to certain cancers or certain hormones, it can play havoc with your body. Your healthcare professional can help confirm the ailment and suggest appropriate treatments.

Now that we've got the top level stuff out of the way, let's get into the nitty gritty.

What are the causes of itchy skin at night?

It’s a simple question with a potentially complicated answer that's hard to diagnose. Let’s break down some of the more common terminology. How does it relate to potential reasons for itchy skin at night, and what's causing your itch?

Nocturnal pruritus

Woman with itchy skin

If you’re experiencing more itchiness at night, it may be due to a condition known as nocturnal pruritus. It is also known as nocturnal itch or nighttime itch.

The definition of the condition is when itching occurs only at night or worsens at night. Many people with this condition may also have a daytime itch, but notice itching more at night.

Nocturnal pruritus is a fairly common condition. It's caused by a number of factors, including lifestyle factors.

Why does my skin itch worse at night? Circadian rhythm and itch triggers

Circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm refers to our body’s natural 24-hour cycle. We have certain physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. This internal clock is affected by the amount of light exposure we get. It directly effects our sleep patterns, as well.
Skin, too, has a circadian rhythm. This means that the skin has different functions at different times of day, just like the rest of the body. For example, skin cell production is highest at night. It’s thought that this natural rhythm may be one reason why skin itch seems to be worse at night.
When we’re asleep, you are in repair mode. This means that your body is working hard to regenerate and help the skin heal itself. This process may lead to an increase in histamine production. This can lead to the skin getting itchy.

Additionally, skin temperature and blood flow to the skin tend to be higher at night. This results in a decrease in the efficacy of the skin barrier. This in turn leads to greater moisture loss and can irritate your skin and make your skin itch.

Itch trigger

An itch trigger is anything that sets off the itch response. It can be an irritant, like a bug bite or poison ivy. Or, it can be one of a number of skin conditions that cause itching. These include shingles, scabies, eczema (atopic dermatitis) or psoriasis.
For people with nocturnal pruritus, finding the causes of an itch trigger can be tricky. It may the side effect of a medication, or it could be related to an underlying health condition.
In some cases, there may not be an identifiable trigger at all. This is especially common in older adults. If you’re struggling to identify your itch trigger, it may be helpful to keep a diary.

Note when the itchiness starts and how long it lasts. What makes it better or worse? Note any other relevant information. This can help you and your doctor narrow down the potential causes for the irritated skin.

Treatment to soothe your skin

The diagnosis and treatment for nocturnal pruritus often focuses on relieving the itch. The goal is to prevent it from disrupting sleep. This is somewhat dependent on the underlying cause. 

The first step to solving the issue is to understand what may be causing it.

Common causes of nighttime itching

There are a variety of reasons that itchy skin may be caused by:

  • Dry Skin
  • Inflammation
  • Insect Bites
  • Irritants
  • Allergies
  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Scratching in and of itself
  • A symptom of an underlying condition

Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail:

Dry Skin

Dry skin
In dermatology, one of the most common symptoms and causes for itchiness is dry skin. This goes for both during the day and at night.  
When the skin is dry, it is more susceptible to itchiness and irritation.
Dry skin may be caused by a variety of things. This can include a weather change, a hot bath or shower, certain shampoo, soaps or detergents, and more.
Skin is naturally drier at night. This is due in part because we’re not exposed to as many moisture-rich environments when we’re sleeping. This can make the problem even worse. Any existing itchiness is exacerbated.
Underlying skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis are often worse at night. This is because your body temperature naturally drops while we sleep. This can lead to increased dryness as the skin loses moisture.
To help soothe dry, itchy skin at night, try using a humidifier in your bedroom. Adding moisture to the air can help to hydrate your skin and prevent your skin from drying out. A humidifier can also relieve other conditions such as sinus congestion and headaches.

You can also try using a moisturizer before bed. Choose one that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid or shea butter. This will help lock in moisture. There are many products on the market that your healthcare provider may recommend. But it's important to make sure that any additional drying effects are minimized.


Dry skin scratch

Itching is often worse at night because that’s when the body’s natural inflammatory process ramps up. During the day, we’re constantly moving around and using our muscles. This helps to reduce inflammation. At night, however, we’re still and our bodies have a chance to rest and repair.

This increased inflammation can cause more itchiness. This can also cause pain and stiffness in the morning. Scratching can actually make the itching worse. This is because it causes the skin to lose moisture and become further inflamed. 
Some common treatments for inflammation of the skin include anti-inflammatory medications. Common options are ibuprofen and topical corticosteroids. It's very important to only use topical steroids as directed. Extended use can result in severe side effects. This includes skin damage; and even addiction and withdrawal syndromes. 

Your healthcare provider may also recommend some over-the-counter allergy medications (antihistamines), like diphenhydramine. It's important to note that they can cause drowsiness. 

If you have severe itching, a stronger prescription medicine may be needed for relief.

Insect Bites

Skin that has been bitten by an insect

If you’ve been bitten by a bug, chances are the itching will be worse at night.

Our inflammatory response is triggered when we’re trying to sleep. This is partly because our bodies are not distracted by other stimuli. Whether it’s bed bugs or chiggers, itchy skin at night with bumps on the skin can be maddening and make it hard to sleep.

There are a few things you can do to ease the itch of bug bites. The best skin care treatment for a bug bite is to first clean it with soap and water. Then apply an anti-itch cream or calamine lotion.

The cooling effect of a cold compress or ice pack can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Over-the-counter antihistamines can also help to control histamine levels.


Irritants and detergents allergies
There are a number of things that can irritate the skin and cause itchiness, both during the day and at night. These include soaps, detergents, chemicals, fabrics, and even certain foods. If you have sensitive skin, you may be more susceptible to these irritants. When trying to identify an irritant, it’s often a process of elimination. Narrow down what you were using or exposed to before the nocturnal itching started. That may be the culprit.
For example, you might determine that your neck or scalp itch could be the result of a new soap or shampoo. It's also possible the cause of your discomfort is some new medications prescribed. Once you identify the irritant, avoiding it is the best way to prevent further irritation.

If you’re unsure what’s causing your skin to become irritated, use a hypoallergenic soap or detergent. and see if that helps. You can also try switching to a different type of pajama or sheet fabric. Materials such as cotton are less likely to irritate the skin.


Woman in bed with allergies

In addition, allergies can be more pronounced at night. Often times when we sleep, the position we’re in can exacerbate the allergies.

Sinus allergies, for example, can be made worse by lying down flat. This position can cause the sinuses to drain into the throat. This can lead to a cough, as well as increased itchiness in the nose and throat. To help ease nighttime allergies, try using a saline nasal rinse before bed. This will help to clear out the allergens and irritants from your nose and sinuses. You can also try using an over-the-counter antihistamine or decongestant. If you have a dust mite allergy, it’s important to keep your bedroom clean and free of dust. Vacuum the floors and surfaces often, and wash your bedding in hot water weekly.

Scratching itself can lead to itching

Itching is often worse at night because we’re not distracted from it, as we are during the day. When you scratch an itch, you can break the skin barrier. This can allow moisture to escape and bacteria to enter. This can lead to even more itching and irritation, and possibly a skin infection. This restarts the itch-scratch cycle. This is why it's so important to try not to scratch.

When to see a doctor

In most cases, itchy skin at night is not a sign of a serious underlying medical condition or skin disease. However, if you have any other symptoms along with the itching, see your dermatologist. They can rule out any potential causes.

It's also important to see your dermatologist regularly. That way they can give your skin a thorough exam and review your medical history. This is important in preventing skin cancer or other serious health concerns. 
They can determine whether there are triggers in the environment that can make skin itch. In testing for allergens, they expose possible triggers to separate patches of skin. This can lead to an allergic reaction and a potential solution.

Some medical conditions like kidney disease or liver disease can cause an increase in histamine levels. This can also lead to skin itching or an itchy rash at night. If you’re experiencing this condition, talk to your doctor to determine the cause of itching and the best course of treatment

Less itching, more snoozing: home remedies for nighttime itching

In science and medicine, there’s rarely a “one size fits all” approach that’s effective. This is certainly true for the different underlying causes that can cause itching at night.

However, when it comes to nocturnal pruritus relief (and sleep), the goal is the same: Stop the itch. 

Here are several home remedies that you can be doing to help soothe itchy skin and get a good night's rest:

  • Using a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Avoiding hot showers or baths, and opting to bathe in lukewarm water at night instead
  • Gentle cleansing with an unscented soap
  • Wearing loose-fitting, cotton clothing
  • Avoiding scratching
  • Using a cool compress
  • Use of a moisturizer before bedtime

    The secret weapon in the fight against nocturnal pruritus

    All of the above are great steps to take in your path to itch free slumber. But sometimes it’s less about the journey more like “beam me up, Scotty; I want to get there NOW!” If you want fast-acting relief from itchy skin at night, you want Dermeleve®.
    Dermeleve boxes and tubes

    Dermeleve® was created to stop itch dead in its tracks. Period.

    Traditional anti-itch creams with corticosteroids can take weeks to start feeling results. Dermeleve® works in minutes instead of weeks. Dermeleve® is completely steroid free. So there is no risk of long term side effects or withdrawal symptoms that come with topical steroid use.
    This also means that Dermeleve® is safe to use as often as you like- including every day and every night! So as long as the itching lasts, you have treatment options available to stop the urge to itch.
    Dermeleve® also happens to be an amazing moisturizer. It's also an excellent choice to help with nocturnal pruritus caused by dry skin.

    It's rich in both hyaluronic acid and shea butter. It also contains a blend of natural ingredients like ceramides. Combined with vitamin C and E, it helps soothe the skin. It helps retain moisture and promote skin cell regeneration.


    Wrap Up

    At some point in our lives, most of us will experience the misery of itchy skin. And for some unlucky folks, that itchiness will be relentless, coming and going without regard to the time of day—or night.

    However, with a little care and attention, itchiness at night can be manageable. A few simple steps can help to reduce itching, especially at night and promote a good night’s sleep:

    • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist.
    • Wear loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers.
    • Applying a soothing lotion before bedtime.

    Dermeleve® is a safe, fast-acting, long-lasting solution. It works to relieve your itchy skin with no steroids.

    This unique solution combines natural components with the patented formula SrX-38™. It rapidly absorbs into the skin and substantially reduces itching. It also soothes your skin.
    The best part is that Dermeleve® is available without a prescription. This means you can get the relief you need without having to see a doctor.
    So if you’re tired of dealing with chronic itchy skin irritation, give Dermeleve® a try.

    It just might be the solution you’ve been searching for. And if you haven’t made up your mind yet about Dermeleve®, well, sleep on it.



    Q: What are the possible causes of itchy skin at night?

    A: There are several possible causes of itchy skin at night, including changes in body temperature, hormonal changes, skin irritation, infestation, and health conditions that are active at night.

    Q: Can inflammation cause itchy skin at night?

    A: Yes, inflammation can contribute to nighttime itching. Inflammation in the skin can cause itchy sensations, making it harder to fall asleep.

    Q: What are some home remedies for itchy skin at night?

    A: Applying cool compresses, taking a lukewarm bath, and avoiding skin irritants or allergens can help relieve itchy skin at night. However, if the itching persists, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider.

    Q: Are there any medical treatments for itchy skin at night?

    A: Yes, there are several medical treatments for itchy skin at night, including topical creams, antihistamines, and medications that have a sedative effect to help with sleep. Dermeleve® is a safe and effective topical treatment that provides fast relief from itchy skin.

    Q: What are some health conditions that may cause itchy skin at night?

    A: Health conditions that are active at night, such as eczema, psoriasis, and scabies, can cause itchy skin at night. It is important to talk to your provider if you suspect you have one of these conditions. They have been trained to know about itchy skin conditions and how to identify them.

    Q: Can taking a lukewarm bath before bed help with itchy skin at night?

    A: Yes, taking a lukewarm bath can help reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin, which can lead to less itching at night.

    Q: Are there any serious health conditions that may cause itchy skin at night?

    A: Yes, in rare cases, itchy skin at night may be a symptom of a more serious health condition, such as liver disease or kidney failure. If you have concerns about your symptoms, it is important to visit a healthcare provider.

    Q: Why am I more prone to feeling itchy at night?

    A: The body's natural sleep cycle can cause changes in body temperature and cytokine production, making the skin more prone to itchiness at night. Additionally, there may be fewer distractions at night, allowing the sensation of itchiness to be more noticeable.

    Q: Can certain foods or environmental factors contribute to nighttime itching?

    A: Yes, certain foods, environmental allergens, and irritants can contribute to nighttime itching. It is important to identify and avoid these triggers if possible.

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