Pruritus, commonly known as itchy skin, is a highly irritating and uncomfortable sensation on your body that is mostly caused by dryness. It is not a very uncommon or serious issue as treating body itching is pretty simple. Read on to know the complete science behind itchiness – what are the prominent signs, what causes it, and how to treat it.
Signs of Itching
It can affect your arm, leg, scalp, or even your whole body. If you notice the following signs and symptoms, you might want to consult a dermatologist for further guidance:
- Scaly or leathery patches
- Scratch marks
- Blisters, spots, or bumps
- Dry and cracked skin
It is advised to not scratch or rub the area that is itching as it can get itchier and lead to an injury or even bleeding.
What Causes Itchy Skin?
Most of the time, itching has an underlying cause that is often ignored. The probable causes of body itching are as follows:
- Skin Problems
Dry skin, eczema, scabies, psoriasis, burns, parasites, insect bites, scars and hives can lead to vigorous itching of the skin.
- Psychiatric Disorders
Itching can be induced by anxiety, depression, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Internal Diseases
Itching might be a symptom of underlying internal diseases such as liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, anaemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma, and thyroid problems.
- Allergic Reactions
Irritated skin can lead to itching and rashes. Wool, chemicals, harsh soaps, poison ivy, opioids, and other drugs might cause an allergic reaction that can cause itching.
- Nerve Disorders
Multiple sclerosis, shingles, and pinched nerves are certain nerve disorders that might cause the skin to itch.
The skin stretches during pregnancy and several hormonal changes take place that might cause skin irritation or itching.
Remedies for Itchy Skin
Even though there might be underlying causes of itching, most of the time, body itching is not serious. Here are a few ways that will answer your question “how to stop itching?”:
1. Application of Menthol
This helps to treat itchy skin, especially in pregnant women. If diluted peppermint oil is applied twice a day for two weeks to the irritated area it might help in reducing the itchiness.
2. Cold Compress
You can cool the irritated and itchy skin by applying ice or a wet cloth to the area. 5 to 10 minutes of cold compress is enough to reduce the inflammation and bring relief.
3. Oatmeal Therapy
Finely ground oatmeal, when mixed with water and applied to the skin, helps restore moisture and hydrate the skin. This paste causes relief as it has antioxidants as well as several anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Moisturise Well
Itchiness is often caused due to dry skin. To avoid such dryness, make sure to moisturise regularly and use a moisturiser that has a high content of water and oil. Moreover, you can keep your moisturiser in the refrigerator and use it once it is cool to calm the irritation and itchiness.
5. Wet Wrap Therapy (WWT)
This should be used if you have uncontrollable itching as this therapy helps in hydrating and soothing the skin. Follow the steps mentioned below to do the WWT:
- Moisten a piece of gauze in warm water and place it on the affected area.
- Now, cover the damp gauze with a piece of dry gauze.
- Do not disturb the covered area
- Leave the bandaged area overnight for best results.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
This contains acetic acid that is a disinfectant as well as an antiseptic in nature. Once you dilute the vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio, you can apply it to your scalp, dry it, and wash it off with lukewarm water. This gives relief to the itchy scalp. However, if you have open wounds, do not use apple cider vinegar as it might cause intense burning sensations.
7. Baking Soda
Baking soda is said to have antifungal properties. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the irritated skin, it might give you relief.
Do not use any of these products, if you are allergic to them. Make sure to consult a dermatologist before using anything for the first time on your irritated skin.
Ways to Avoid Body Itching
It is best to follow certain steps and avoid itchy skin.
- Avoid bathing in extremely hot water, as it takes away the moisture from the skin and makes it dry and more prone to itching.
- Use fragrance-free beauty products because artificial fragrance tends to irritate the skin and cause itching.
- Avoid wearing synthetic and woollen fabric, as they cause irritation and itchiness. Try to stick to loose cotton clothes.
Body itching can be caused due to various reasons. However, keep the signs and symptoms in mind and if itchiness is severe or lasts more than two weeks, make sure to consult a dermatologist immediately. Intense itching might lead to injury, and scarring and might even interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. Hence, do not delay the visit to your doctor.