Itchy skin can be the result of a rash or another skin condition. It can also be a symptom of a more serious condition such as liver disease or kidney failure. To get relief, it is important to identify the problem and treat the underlying cause.
Itching is one of the most common symptoms of all skin problems.
Skin serves a vital purpose as the barrier that protects the inside of the body. It is filled with special cells of the immune system that can protect the body and skin from viruses, bacteria, and other hidden threats.
Once the skin cells detect any type of suspicious substance, they trigger a reaction that causes the area to become inflamed. Medical professionals refer to this inflammation as a rash or dermatitis. This can lead to itching.
Immune cells can react to something that touches the skin, a whole-body infection, or an illness. Some rashes are red, painful, and irritated, while others can lead to blisters or patches of raw skin.
Itching is a symptom common to many skin complaints. Skin can itch all over the body or only in specific areas.
Here are some specific causes of pruritus:
Dry skin is one of the most common causes of itchy skin. If a person does not see any bright red bumps or notice a sudden change to their skin, dry skin is a likely cause.
Environmental factors that can lead to dry skin include excessively hot or cold weather with low humidity. Washing too much can also cause dry skin. It can affect any age group, but as people age, their skin becomes thinner and drier.
A good moisturizer can usually help repair dry skin. Extremely dry skin can be a warning sign of dermatitis, so it may be necessary to see a dermatologist to help get relief and keep the condition from becoming worse.
Common signs and symptoms of dry skin include:
- rough, scaly, or flaking skin
- excessive itching
- gray or ashy-looking skin in people with darker skin
- cracks in the skin that are prone to bleeding
- chapped or cracked skin or lips
It is important to seek help to treat dry skin because cracks in the skin can allow germs to enter. Once inside the skin, these germs can cause an infection. Red, sore spots on the skin are often an early sign of a potential infection.
A skin specialist may prescribe a special moisturizer to apply throughout the day or a topical medicine to apply directly to the skin.
Eczema affects 1 in 5 infants but often improves over time.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is the most common cause of skin rash in children.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) report that eczema affects 1 in 5 infants but only 1 in 50 adults.
The cause is linked to the leakiness of the skin barrier. This causes the area to dry out, putting it at risk of irritation and inflammation. It is vital to keep the skin moisturized.
Eczema often improves over time. People with eczema must be careful, however, as they are more vulnerable to skin infections.