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5 Causes of Chronic Itchy Skin

October 18, 2021 by VitalSkin Dermatology

woman sufferning from itchy skin on arm

There can be few ailments as frustrating as itchy skin—especially when you are unsure of what exactly has caused it. Often, it can be difficult to zero in on the cause of your itchy skin, leaving you uncomfortable and confused. The following are some of the most common causes of itchy skin. By learning about these triggers and then working in partnership with a dermatologist, you can identify and treat this condition and get back to feeling better in your own skin.

#1 – Skin Conditions

One of the most common causes of itchy skin? Skin conditions, of course. The easiest to handle is known by the medical term, xerosis, which just means ‘dry skin.’ In some patients, however, dry skin can be chronic and severe, requiring stronger moisturizers and other topical treatments.

Patients with itchy skin may also experience one or more other skin conditions, including eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. For some of these patients, avoiding certain triggering substances such as soaps or lotions can help. A dermatologist may also prescribe certain topical creams to treat these conditions. Steroids and antihistamines may also be part of a treatment plan for these types of skin conditions.

Some small children or older individuals in nursing homes can get a condition known as scabies, which is caused by a burrowing mite and requires medical intervention. Patients who suspect they have any of these skin conditions should consult with a dermatologist to determine the best course of action.

#2 – Internal Diseases

Sometimes, the root of someone’s itchy skin is an internal disease. Conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes or anemia can all trigger itchy skin. Patients with diabetes or thyroid conditions may also develop certain skin conditions that feel itchy. Finally, in rare cases, some cancers may be associated with itchy skin. A general practitioner or other specialist may consult with a dermatologist in these scenarios.

#3 – Nerve Disorders

On occasion, a patient with a serious nerve disorder, such as multiple sclerosis, may experience itchy skin, as well. In these cases, it is the sensory disturbance caused by MS and not an actual rash or skin condition that causes the itching. Shingles can also trigger an itchy skin reaction and generate a rash near nerve clusters on the body.

#4 – Allergies

allergic skin reaction on forearmAnother common cause of itchy skin is allergies. In some patients, the skin can be triggered by substances with which it comes into contact, including but not limited to wool, chemicals and soap. The chemicals that trigger these conditions may be present in household cleaners or even beauty products. In other cases, patients may experience itchy skin in response to a pharmaceutical. Some pain medications, for example, can result in rashes and itchy skin. Other substances that can cause itchy skin and trigger irritation or an allergic reaction include common cosmetics or poisonous plants, such as poison oak or poison ivy.

#5 – Psychiatric Conditions

Finally, in some rare cases, patients with certain psychiatric disorders, including stress and anxiety, may experience itchy skin. These cases are more complex, of course, and can require the collaboration of both mental health specialists and a dermatologist. Treatment plans can include a combination of therapy, medications and topical solutions.

Whatever the trigger of itchy skin, identifying and treating this condition is a top priority for most individuals. If you are experiencing frustrating, chronic itchy skin, contact a dermatology professional today. A skilled dermatologist can help diagnose your skin

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