Itchy skin is incredibly uncomfortable and leads to the sensation of wanting to scratch. It isn’t usually dangerous and is often temporary in nature but can be very annoying and distressing, affecting the quality of life and sleeping patterns.
Itchy skin is often related to other symptoms such as:
- Bumps, spots or blisters
- Scaly texture to the skin
Skin conditions that can cause itchy skin:
- Dry Skin
- Contact Dermatitis – inflammation of the skin that occurs when you come into contact with an irritant, allergen or another environmental factors such as:
- cosmetic ingredients – such as preservatives, fragrances, hair dye and nail varnish hardeners .
- certain metals – such as nickel or cobalt in jewellery .
- rubber – including latex .
- textiles – such as wool as well as dyes & resins they may contain .
- certain plants – such as chrysanthemums, sunflowers, daffodils, tulips and primula .
- Nodular Prurigo
- Hives (urticaria)
Other factors that can cause itchy skin:
- Pregnancy and Menopause – some women experience itchy skin due to hormonal changes or find any existing skin conditions can worsen during this time.
- Infections – it can be a symptoms of a virus or fungal infection such as:
- Athletes Foot
- Internal disease – itching can be a symptom of another underlying illness, such as thyroid disorder or liver disease and this itching usually affects the whole body.
- Insects and parasites –
- Insect bites & stings
- Scabies – a contagious skin infestation caused by a mite that burrows into the skin
- Depression, anxiety and stress can causing itching.
Management of Itchy Skin
- Keep your nails clean, trimmed short and filed smooth so that if you do scratch you will do less damage to your skin.
- Pat or tap the itchy area, rather than scratching it.
- Wear cotton gloves at night to prevent damage from scratching in your sleep.
- Keep cool at night with cotton bedding and a window open to allow fresh air to circulate. Avoid electric blankets and hot water bottles.
- Apply a cold compress, such as damp flannel, over the affected area to cool it down.
- Keep busy and find a distraction which keeps your mind diverted onto something else, reducing the need to scratch and reducing overall stress levels.