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There’s a nearly endless list of reasons you might have itchy skin. Whether it’s the dry winter weather or bug bites, we know you just want relief.
But why do you itch in the first place? What drives you to scratch your skin when there’s nothing actually there?
This sudden sensation is caused by the stimulation of nerve cells. Scratching serves as a distraction and releases serotonin in the brain, but this relief is only temporary. If there’s an underlying problem, the itch will likely come back.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the most common causes of itchy skin and how you can manage your skin to get rid of that itch once and for all.
8 Causes Of Itchy Skin
One of the most common things causing you to itch is dry skin. Dry skin can be the result of several factors: cold weather, chemical irritation, age, dehydration, and many others.
We’re quick to scratch our skin once it gets dry because of microfractures on the skin barrier. These microfractures stimulate the release of kinins and histamine, which irritates nerves and tells us it’s time to get those fingernails ready for action.
As you scratch the dry and itchy areas of your skin, you’ll notice it might get even itchier. This cycle isn’t easy to stop once you get started — we’ve all been there.
If you feel the need to bathe in anti-itch cream once spring is in full bloom, then you might attribute your itchy skin to allergies. Being allergic to pollen, pet dander, dust, and other allergens can create irritation within your body and lead to itching.
You might also be putting your allergies closer to your skin than you think. Chemical ingredients such as parabens and hydantoin can be found in many bath products and are commonly linked to allergic reactions.
Always be sure to check the ingredients list on skin products before using them.
Skin conditions ranging from mild to severe can cause uncontrollable itching. Shingles, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and even sunburn are going to have you scratching for relief.
If you are living with a skin condition like eczema, do your best to avoid triggers that cause your symptoms to flare.
We all know that life can be cruel, but just how far does that old adage go? Let’s talk about skin irritants and find out.
When you think of things that irritate your skin, you might think of harsh chemicals or that unfortunate run-in with poison ivy you had at summer camp.
The truth is that the most common skin irritants are the products we’re using every day. Soap, clothing, fabric dryer sheets, certain medications, and even latex can make your skin crawl.
If you suspect that one of the products you use each day is causing you to itch, try taking it out of your routine to see if the itching stops.
Your skin is a natural barrier that helps your body ward off infections, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become infected itself.
To put an end to itching caused by a skin infection, you’ll need to determine the type of infection you have. The difference between bacterial, viral, or fungal will help you understand whether you need over-the-counter medications, topical creams, or just a bit of time.
Fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, thrive in moist parts of the body, but they’re rarely life-threatening. Viral and bacterial infections can range from extremely mild to severe, depending on their causes and your body’s reaction.
There’s also a fourth type of infection known as parasitic, which can spread beyond the skin and into the bloodstream. Parasites can cause infection in a variety of ways, but one of the most common is through a simple bug bite.
Once the dead of winter hits and your skin is at its driest, we know you can’t wait for summer. Warm temperatures, nourishing sunlight, and — mosquitoes?
Sure, there’s not a lot of detective work involved when trying to figure out if your itching is caused by a mosquito bite. One night around the bonfire is enough to collect a dozen or so bumps.
But not all bug bites are easy to spot. Bed bugs, for example, are hard to detect and usually live in the place you’re most vulnerable. If you start waking up to red, itchy welts, then you might want to check your mattress.
Lice and fleas are other examples of hard-to-spot bugs with an appetite for your skin. While their bites may be overall harmless, that doesn’t make them any less annoying.
Not every itch is caused by itchy skin. Confusing, right? But it actually makes a lot of sense when we think back to why we get the urge to scratch in the first place.
Since the stimulation of nerve cells in the skin is what makes us itch, what happens if our nerves are damaged?
Damage to the nervous system can cause what’s known as a neuropathic itch. This type of itch can feel completely unlike a “normal” one because scratching probably won’t give you any relief.
Instead of your brain telling you exactly where there’s an itch on your skin, a damaged nervous system means your brain might be communicating an itch that isn’t actually there.
Beyond this phantom itch, neuropathic itch brought on by nerve damage might cause further symptoms, including burning, numbness, and other types of pain.
From shingles and stroke to diabetes and vitamin deficiencies, many diseases and conditions can cause neuropathic itch.
Although it’s likely a rarer cause of itchy skin, an underlying illness might be what’s making your body beg to be scratched.
Some diseases known to cause itching include diabetes, blood disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lymphoma, and thyroid problems.
The itching caused by disease sometimes takes place around specific parts of the body. Liver disease, for example, often causes the palms and soles of your feet to itch before spreading elsewhere. Kidney diseases may cause intense itching on your arms, legs, and back.
How To Relieve Itchy Skin
The cure for your itchy skin mostly depends on what’s causing it, but there are countless ways to get relief that goes beyond a temporary scratch.
Moisturizing your skin works best for itching caused by dry skin. But it can also be extremely effective in preventing irritation, soothing bug bites, and keeping rashes or other conditions, like eczema, from getting worse.
Try Colloidal Oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal works to lock moisture into your skin and allow it to rehydrate. If you live with a skin condition like eczema, this helps reduce symptoms and calm itching while softening skin.
It’s why we use colloidal oatmeal in our Eczema Daily Calming Cream. The combination of its anti-irritation properties and our proprietary blend of botanicals relieves eczema and helps improve the appearance of skin over time.
Use A Cool Compress
Itching caused by inflammation and allergic reactions can be relieved by a cool compress. This easy method of providing relief helps restrict blood flow in the targeted part of your body to reduce swelling, pain, and itchiness.
For a simple compress, dampen a cloth with cold water and place it over the affected area for about 10 to 15 minutes. If the itching persists, wait an hour and repeat as needed.
Hydrocortisone is an over-the-counter medication that comes in a variety of sprays and lotions to help treat a wide range of skin conditions. Symptoms caused by allergic reactions, rashes, eczema, irritation, bug bites, and more can be relieved by applying this medication.
Although there are plenty of hydrocortisone options available, we recommend talking to your doctor about which one is right for your specific condition.
Note: Avoid using hydrocortisone on your face or underarms, and always keep it away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
See A Professional
Keep in mind that not every itch should be treated with home remedies. If your itching persists or becomes severe, then visit your doctor or dermatologist as soon as you can.
Try Bodewell For Relief That Lasts
Itchy skin is frustrating, to say the least. But with Bodewell, you don’t have to let itching due to eczema or psoriasis get the best of you.
Our skincare products help take care of your skin without compromising its natural beauty. With our active ingredients and botanical blend, our products deliver proven results for unique skin conditions.
For a lightweight, oil-free solution to your itchy skin, try our Psoriasis Soothing Spray — uniquely formulated with a proprietary blend of botanicals. Or choose our moisturizing Eczema Daily Calming Cream to reduce symptoms of eczema on the skin.
If you're looking to ease the symptoms of itch and irritation from eczema and psoriasis, you’re sure to find exactly what you need to enjoy more good skin days with Bodewell.