Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause skin changes associated with itchiness. These include dryness and patches of thick, scaly, discolored skin.

Thyroid conditions can also cause an increase or decrease in sweat, which can also lead to itchiness under certain conditions.

Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease are two autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the thyroid glands. Both conditions have connections with itchy skin.

This article discusses the associations between itchy skin and thyroid conditions, plus how to manage the discomfort.

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Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an excess amount of thyroid hormone. Itchiness is one of the symptoms of this condition. However, not everyone with hyperthyroidism will experience it, according to older research.

This may present as an overall itchiness across the body or a raised and itchy rash that forms in the crevices of the skin. Other skin changes that can accompany hyperthyroidism include warm, discolored skin and excessive sweating. When sweat dries, it can lead to itchiness in the form of a heat rash.

Additionally, some research suggests that people with psoriasis may be more likely to also experience thyroid disorders. However, experts need to conduct more research on this potential connection. Psoriasis is a condition that causes dry, itchy, and scaly patches of skin near the knees, elbows, waist, and scalp.

Learn more about hyperthyroidism.

Graves’ disease can lead to hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the healthy cells in the thyroid gland. This leads to enlargement of the thyroid gland and the overproduction of thyroid hormone.

One complication of Graves’ disease is Graves’ dermopathy, which is discoloration and thickening of skin that also causes itchiness.

Aside from the same skin itchiness associated with hyperthyroidism in general, Grave’s disease can also cause bulging, dry, and itchy eyes. This condition is Graves’ eye disease.

Over-the-counter eye drops can provide temporary relief in mild cases. For more severe cases, doctors may prescribe steroids such as prednisone that can target the swelling behind the eyes.

Learn more about Graves’ disease.

Hypothyroidism refers to when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

This thyroid condition can cause dry skin, which can be itchy and uncomfortable. Dry skin can shift the skin’s texture from soft to rough, causing itching.

Hypothyroidism can also have links with eczema craquele, also known as asteatotic eczema. This is a form of dermatitis that appears as splitting on the skin. This may appear as diamond-shaped plates of skin separated by discolored bands. It may also involve scratch-like marks and begin on one shin before slowly spreading to all of the skin on both lower legs.

Learn more about hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s disease can cause hypothyroidism. As with Graves’ disease, it is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland. However, instead of causing the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone, it does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

Some research suggests a correlation between Hashimoto’s disease and chronic hives. In fact, in 25–30% of chronic hives cases studied, there was antithyroid peroxidase in the blood. This is a hallmark sign of Hashimoto’s disease.

Learn more about Hashimoto’s disease.

There are several lifestyle and self-care changes people can make to help manage itchy skin. These may also be helpful for itchiness associated with thyroid disease.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests the following:

  • soak in a lukewarm oatmeal bath
  • apply topical anesthetics containing pramoxine
  • apply cooling agents containing menthol or calamine
  • apply a fragrance-free moisturizer
  • wear loose-fitting cotton clothing
  • maintain a cool temperature and neutral humidity level in the home
  • take steps to reduce stress where possible
  • avoid scratching skin

Ultimately, resolving itchiness due to thyroid conditions involves managing the condition and the level of thyroid hormone in the blood.

Some forms of hypothyroidism, including Hashimoto’s disease, require thyroid replacement therapy through levothyroxine. The required dosage can fluctuate, so doctors may recommend regular blood tests. Most cases of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease require lifelong treatment.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism may involve taking a prescription medication to suppress thyroid function, such as propylthiouracil or methimazole. Radioactive iodine treatment is another option for managing hyperthyroidism. It is a type of radiation therapy that helps to destroy cells in the thyroid gland, reducing the amount of hormones it produces.

In some cases, including cases of Graves’ disease, doctors may recommend a thyroidectomy, which is surgical removal of the thyroid gland, or radiofrequency ablation therapy to dissolve the thyroid gland.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about thyroid disorders.

What are early warning signs of thyroid problems?

Early symptoms of thyroid conditions can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. Early symptoms include:

Where might a person itch with thyroid problems?

Itching can occur anywhere on the body, but often occurs in crevices such as the armpits, elbows, and groin.

Thyroid conditions, including both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can cause skin changes, including itchiness, dryness, and discoloration.

Autoimmune disorders such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease, in which the immune system targets the thyroid, often coincide with itchy skin.

Hyperthyroidism may lead to an overall body itch, rash, and heightened sweating. Sweat that dries and stays on the skin for a prolonged period can cause a heat rash.

Graves’ disease can also cause patches of persistently itchy, discolored, and thickened skin.

Hypothyroidism results in cool, dry skin and potential texture shifts, inducing itching.

Hashimoto’s disease may correlate with chronic hives.

Psoriasis may occur with hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s disease.

Management involves lifestyle adjustments, such as oatmeal baths, cooling agents, and stress reduction. Resolving itchiness ultimately requires a doctor to address the underlying thyroid condition, often requiring medications or other forms of treatment, such as radioactive iodine therapy.