While everybody knows the sensation of an itch, few people understand how awful it can be to experience extremely itchy skin. When the itch becomes stronger than usual, it can be nearly unbearable, and the urge to scratch can interfere with normal responsibilities. If you suffer from extremely itchy skin, read on to keep learning about the causes, prevention, and treatments.
About Extremely Itchy Skin
Excessive itching can be categorized in two ways: as acute, meaning that it is a very remarkable itch but that it dissipates eventually, or as chronic, meaning that the itch lasts for very long periods of time, generally six weeks or more. Itching like this can affect any part of the body.
Itchy Skin Causes
A number of things may cause itchy skin, and they may be the culprits behind extremely itchy skin as well. People react differently to each cause or trigger, so any one cause may induce more extreme itching in one person than in another. These causes include:
Hormonal imbalance. Lower levels of estrogen reduce the body's ability to produce collagen, which is necessary for healthy and itch-free skin.
Dry skin. Skin itches when it begins to lose moisture, either because of the environment or dehydration.
Allergic reaction. An allergy often causes a rash, and contact dermatitis can cause skin irritation because of contact with something that bothers the skin.
Skin conditions. Eczema and psoriasis are two of the most common skin conditions that cause itchy skin, but there are many others.
Underlying illness. Some types of organ failure, along with anemia and other medical conditions, can cause the skin to itch as a symptom.
When to See a Doctor
In some cases, women suffering from itchy skin should consult a doctor. This is true of those who are experiencing:
An itch that presents with other symptoms like weight loss, fever, extreme exhaustion, or others
An itch that comes on suddenly with no explanatory factors
An itch that interferes with daily activities or sleep
An itch lasting longer than two weeks
An itch that affects the whole body
Preventing Extremely Itchy Skin
There are a few methods to try to keep itchy skin from appearing, or from reappearing, as the case may be. They are not foolproof, but they can significantly reduce the risk of skin irritation and subsequent excessive itching of the skin. These are:
Keeping skin moisturized by applying lotions, drinking water, or using a humidifier
Avoiding scented skincare products, since the fragrant chemicals may cause irritation
Keeping baths and showers lukewarm and short
Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing
For those with less severe and less worrying itches, a few home remedies may help. Some of the best ways to cure extremely itchy skin are:
Cold compresses. Using ice packs or cold, damp cloths minimizes itching.
Oatmeal baths. The standard treatment for chicken pox works on other itches as well.
Aloe vera. This herb is known for use on sunburns, but it can alleviate many skin ailments, including itchiness.
Calamine. Things like calamine and menthol produce a cooling sensation, which stops itchiness.
Read more about the ways to treat itchy skin.
- American Academy of Dermatology. (2017). How to relieve itchy skin. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/itchy-skin
- Mayo Clinic. (2016). Itchy skin (pruritus) Symptoms and Causes. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/itchy-skin/symptoms-causes/dxc-20262871
- Shah, M.G. & Maibach, H.I. (2001). Estrogen and skin. An overview. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2(3), 143-150. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11705091