A couple days of having itchy skin is enough to frustrate anyone, but experiencing it as a chronic condition is even worse. Getting to know the “why” behind the problem, however, can bring sufferers one step closer to finding an appropriate solution. Read on to learn about five itchy skin conditions that might be affecting you in order to stay informed and find relief.
Caused primarily by hot, humid weather, prickly skin is perhaps the least known of all itchy skin conditions. Summerlike conditions and warmer climates often result in excess sweating, which leads to a buildup of perspiration on the skin. This, in turn, can lead to a rash, with raised bumps along the neck, shoulders, chest, and arms. Dehumidifiers and loose-weave clothing can help prevent the issue when weather cannot be controlled.
As is the case among many menopausal women, itchy skin conditions are not so much the underlying problem but instead another side effect of hormonal imbalance, which can count increased skin itches among its symptoms. Not only is itchy skin a direct side effect of this change in life, but the hot flashes and night sweats that overheat the body can also contribute to dermal irritation, worsening the situation. Rebalancing estrogen levels in the body with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and herbal supplements can make a huge difference toward this end.
Itchy skin conditions can also be caused by an allergic reaction, whether internally or externally. Certain medications list skin aggravation among their possible side effects, especially antifungal and antibiotic topical solutions as well as oral narcotic pain relievers. Additionally, contact allergies to metals like nickel - used extensively in bijouterie - can produce a rash, as can itchy fabrics like wool and polyester. It is important to contact a doctor if allergies are suspected as the culprit.
Vitamin deficiencies can cause a host of itchy skin conditions, therefore a balanced diet that supports dermal health is essential when fighting them. Vitamin A, for example, is integral to mucus cell production and overall skin protection. Meanwhile, vitamin C and the sex hormone estrogen are connected to collagen production, which gives skin a full, fit appearance. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids are also required components, and ensuring that the body has all the nutrients required can do wonders towards fixing the problem.
Many types of liver disease have been associated with itchy skin, and the sensation may be one of the earliest indicators of this larger problem. Though relatively rare compared to the other possibilities, long-term liver diseases such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) can affect individuals past the age of 40 and manifest as fatigue, dry eyes and mouth, and itchy skin. Women, it is thought, are more susceptible than men to developing PBC.
Understanding all the possible reasons behind itchy skin can help sufferers find the relief they seek, in addition to providing them with peace of mind. Talk to a health care professional today to identify what is triggering your itch.
- Evert, A. (2013). Vitamin A: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002400.htm
- McCusker, M.M. & Grant-Kels, J.M. (2010). Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Clinics in dermatology, 28(4), 440-451. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.020.
- National Health Service. (2012).Itching - Causes. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Itching/Pages/Causes.aspx
- National Health Service. (2012).Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Primary-biliary-cirrhosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx