A couple days of having itchy skin - scientifically known as pruritus - is enough to frustrate anyone, but experiencing it as a chronic condition is even worse. Getting to know what can cause itchy skin without a rash, however, can bring sufferers one step closer to finding an appropriate solution.
Read on to learn about five, little-known itchy skin conditions that might be affecting you in order to get informed and finally find long-lasting relief.
Among the many functions of the kidneys are removing waste from the body and balancing fluids. As such, when they start to give out, there is a buildup of waste in the bloodstream, which is what causes itchy skin all over, not just in a localized area. An excess of phosphorus can also contribute to this itching. If you are experiencing accompanying symptoms of changes in the frequency of urination, nausea, vomiting, and swelling, among others, contact your healthcare provider immediately for appropriate diagnostic testing.
Itchy skin conditions can also be caused by an allergic reaction, whether internally or externally. Certain medications list itchy skin among their possible side effects, especially aspirin, prescription-strength pain relievers, and blood-pressure drugs. Additionally, contact allergies to metals like nickel - commonly found in cell phones, jewelry, and eyeglass frames - can produce a rash.
As is the case among many middle-aged women, itchy skin is not so much the underlying problem but instead another menopause symptom from decreased estrogen levels. Hot flashes and night sweats that overheat the body can also contribute to dermal irritation, worsening the situation. Moreover, an overactive thyroid gland can also be what causes body itching without a rash. Low thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) or high thyroid hormones (T3, T4) are characteristic of this disease.
What causes skin to itch could also be attributed to malnutrition. Nutrient deficiencies can provoke a host of symptoms, itchy skin being just one of them. For instance, iron deficiency can lead to anemia, indicators of which are generally extreme fatigue, weakness, and cold hands and feet, but can also include pruritus. Likewise, a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can also lead to rough, scaly skin that itches, although this is quite rare in the United States.1 Moreover, low levels of vitamin C may also contribute to itchiness as its healthy amounts maintain skin barrier function, thus combating atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, an itchy, inflammatory skin condition.
Many types of liver disease manifest as itchy skin, and the symptom may be one of the earliest indicators of such. Though relatively rare compared to the other possibilities, long-term liver diseases such as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) can appear as fatigue, dry eyes and mouth, and itchy skin. Women are more susceptible than men to developing PBC.
Understanding all the possible reasons behind pruritus and pursuing itchy skin treatments - especially those conducive to endocrine system health - can help sufferers find the relief they seek. Talk to a health care professional today to identify what is triggering your itch and to find ultimate peace of mind.
- American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). 10 reasons your skin itches uncontrollably and how to get relief. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.aad.org/itchy-skin/relieve-uncontrollably-itchy-skin
- Mayo Clinic. (2018). Primary biliary cholangitis: Symptoms & causes. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/primary-biliary-cholangitis-pbc/symptoms-causes/syc-20376874
- National Kidney Foundation. (n.d.). How Your Kidneys Work. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk
- Unity Point Health. (n.d.). Are your kidneys working? Recognizing and preventing chronic kidney disease: a silent epidemic. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=0dde66ab-6c21-40e8-ae12-b7090458f004
- Wang, K. et al. (2018). Role of Vitamin C in Skin Diseases. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 819. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00819
- National Institutes of Health. (2019). Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/