It’s so hard to sleep when you need to scratch. Learn what causes itchy skin at night and how to tame the sensation so you can catch some zzzs.

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Itchy Skin At Night: Causes And Treatment

06/30/20228 min read

Every evening, like clockwork, it's the same old thing. You get pajamas on and crawl into bed. But before you can get comfortable and fall asleep, you start feeling an itch deep within your skin. You try to ignore your itchy skin at night, willing it to go away.

Unfortunately, it never disappears, no matter how long you try to fight it. Eventually, your willpower runs out, so you give in and start scratching.

This cycle of itching and scratching can be maddening, not to mention disruptive to a good night's sleep. If this sounds all too familiar, you're not alone. Itchy skin at night is a common problem with many different causes.

Table Of Contents

Itchy Skin At Night

A woman scratching her arm in bed

Itchy skin at night, also called nocturnal pruritus, is when you experience an intense urge to scratch your skin during the evening or nighttime hours.

You may experience this sensation only at night or feel itchy all day long, with the itching getting worse at night. The itchiness can affect any part of your body, but you’ll often notice it on your arms, legs, back, or bottom.

The itching may be so severe that it disrupts your sleep and leaves you feeling exhausted during the day. But it could also be minor, causing only a bit of discomfort.

Itchy skin isn't the only symptom you might notice when suffering from this condition. Other possible symptoms include:

  • Dry skin
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Rashes
  • Hives

It's also possible to break open your skin when you scratch, which can lead to infection.

Common Causes Of Itchy Skin At Night

Many different things can cause your skin to itch while you’re trying to sleep. To help you narrow down the possibilities, let’s look at some of the most likely culprits.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is one of the most common reasons people experience itchy skin at night. When your skin is dry, it doesn't have enough moisture to protect itself from irritants. This can make it more likely to itch.

Since you're not drinking as much water at night, you can become dehydrated. And dehydration can make your skin even drier, exacerbating the itchiness.

Normal Body Functions

It's normal for your skin to change at night. Your body temperature drops, and your skin loses moisture. These changes can lead to itchiness.

While some body functions also cause itchiness during the day, you may be more distracted during this time, so you don't notice it as much. However, at night, you're winding down and trying to sleep. As a result, you’re more likely to focus on the itchiness, making it feel worse.

Medications

A woman holding a pill and a glass of water

Certain medications can cause itchy skin as a side effect. Here are a few types of drugs where this is a known problem:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Oral antifungal agents
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

It could be connected if you recently began taking a new drug and suddenly develop itchy skin at night. Bring it up with your doctor to get their opinion. If they think the medication is causing your itchiness, they may change your dosage or try a different type of medication.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes dry, scaly patches on your skin. If you have psoriasis, you may also experience itching. The itchiness can worsen at night, making it difficult to get enough rest.

Eczema

Eczema is another chronic skin condition that's characterized by dry, scaly skin. It can also cause intense itching and rashes. Like psoriasis, eczema flare-ups can happen at any time, but they're often worse at night.

Insects

“Good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite” isn't just a cute saying. Bedbugs are real, and they can cause your skin to feel like it’s crawling.

These tiny insects live off human blood, and they're most active at night when you're asleep. They bite your skin during these evening hours, causing red, itchy welts to form.

If you think you might have bedbugs, look for tiny brown bugs in your sheets or mattress. You might also notice bloodstains on your bedding from where they've been biting you.

Other Insect Bites

Bedbugs aren't the only insects that can bite you and cause itchy skin. Mosquitoes, fleas, and mites can also do this. Their bites usually cause a red, itchy bump to form.

In addition, if you're allergic to the insect's saliva, you may develop hives or a more severe reaction.

Pregnancy

Your body goes through many changes while growing a new baby. For example, hormonal fluctuations can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. This is especially true during the third trimester, when your body produces more estrogen.

In some cases, pregnancy can also cause pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This condition causes a red, itchy rash to develop on your stomach. The rash usually starts around the belly button and spreads from there.

In addition to the rash, PUPPP makes your skin itch. It can intensify at night when you don't have other things to take your mind off of it.

Other Health Conditions

Sometimes, itchy skin at night is a symptom of a more serious health condition. For example, kidney disease and cancer can cause your skin to itch. So can liver disease and thyroid problems.

If you have other symptoms in addition to itchy skin, talk to your doctor to see if they think an underlying condition may be to blame.

Treating Itchy Skin At Night

Now that you know some possible reasons for your skin feeling so itchy, it's time to take action. That way, you can get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed instead of exhausted.

Moisturize Regularly

If you have dry skin, one of the best things you can do is moisturize regularly. Look for a product specifically designed for dry skin due to eczema, such as our Eczema Daily Calming Cream. It's gentle enough to use daily, and the natural colloidal oatmeal formula can help keep your skin hydrated.

Bodewell skincare formulations with clinical-grade botanicals contain powerful ingredients, including salicylic acid and colloidal oatmeal, to help you fight itchiness due to psoriasis or eczema.

For example, our Psoriasis Soothing Spray allows you to quickly spray a soothing blast onto areas that are itching due to psoriasis.

In all of our products, the clinically proven active ingredients start to work on day one to help relieve eczema and psoriasis symptoms, and the soothing botanicals help you achieve clearer-looking skin over time.

Use A Humidifier At Night

Person turning on a humidifier by their bed

A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can keep your skin from drying out while you sleep. It can be a powerful tool in your battle against nighttime itchiness.

When using a humidifier, be sure to clean it regularly. Otherwise, it can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, making your skin itch even more.

Change Your Pajamas And Bedding

Some fabrics can irritate your skin, making you itch more at night. If you think this might be the case, switch to pajamas and bedding made from a different material.

Natural fabrics, like cotton or silk, are usually best for people with sensitive skin. You might also want to try sleeping in loose-fitting clothes so your skin doesn't feel constricted.

In addition to your pajamas, also ensure that your sheets are irritant-free. If you're using fabric softener or dryer sheets, switch to a hypoallergenic variety. Take time to wash your sheets in hot water once a week to kill any dust mites that might be causing your skin to itch.

Treat Underlying Health Conditions

If a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis is flaring up at night, you won't notice much improvement unless you treat the underlying condition.

Consult A Healthcare Professional

If you've tried different home remedies and still aren't able to rest at night, it's time to ask for professional help. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist to get to the bottom of your itchy skin problem.

Your healthcare professional will likely ask you about your symptoms and give you a physical exam. They may also recommend patch testing or other tests to determine what's causing your itchiness. Once they've diagnosed the problem, they can prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Stop The Itch And Get Back To Sleep

A woman who treated her itchy skin at night sleeping peacefully

Itchy skin at night can throw a wrench in your sleeping habits. But with the right treatment plan, you can get your skin under control and get the rest you need.

Our experts at Bodewell are here to help you find the products you need to soothe your itchy skin. Our line of gentle psoriasis, eczema, and bath products can help relieve your symptoms so you can sleep like a baby night after night.

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