Itchy skin is an unpleasant, itchy sensation that makes you want to scratch. Itchy skin, also known as pruritus (proo-RIE-tus), is commonly caused by dry skin. It’s more frequent in older people since skin dries out with aging.
Depending on the cause of your itching, your skin may appear normal, red, rough, or bumpy. Scratching the same spot over and over can cause thickened, raised areas of skin that may bleed or get infected.
Many people find comfort in self-care methods like daily moisturizing, using gentle cleansers, and bathing in lukewarm water. Long-term relief requires identifying and treating the source of itchy skin. The most common treatments are medicated creams, moist dressings, and oral medications that relieve itching.
It is essential that patients suffering from this symptom understand the cause of their itchy skin in case therapy is required.
This article discusses the numerous causes of itchy skin and which ones require treatment.
What Causes Dark Itchy Spots On Skin?
The following are some common causes of skin that itches:
- Eczema. Eczema is characterized by itchy, red, scaly patches of skin. Patches are most commonly found on the cheekbones, elbow creases, and behind the knees. Eczema is common in youngsters and frequently runs in families with allergies, hay fever, or asthma. Atopic dermatitis is another name for eczema.
- Insect bite. A lump or blister will normally form around the bite. The affected area may become inflamed, uncomfortable, and swollen.
- Heat rash. Heat rash appears as little pink or red patches or blisters. They can appear anywhere on the body’s surface. Heat rash, commonly known as miliaria or prickly heat, is quite frequent among infants.
- Hives. Hives, also known as urticaria, are an itchy, raised, bumpy red or skin-colored rash. The rash most frequently appears on the chest, belly, or back, but it can present anywhere. The rash will persist anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours before disappearing with no scarring.
- Dry skin. Dry skin is an unpleasant condition characterized by scaling, itching, and cracking. It can happen for a number of reasons. Your skin may be naturally dry. Even if you have oily skin, you can get dry skin from time to time.
- Scabies. Scabies is a highly irritating skin rash caused by tiny mites. On the skin, there will be red lumps and threadlike traces. These are most commonly found between the fingers and toes, on the insides of the wrists, in the armpits, around the abdomen and groin, and on the buttocks.
- Psoriasis. Psoriasis is characterized by thick red, scaly areas on the skin. Silvery white scales are possible. Patches are most commonly found on the scalp, knees, elbows, belly button, and between the buttocks.
- Obstetric cholestasis. This is a rare disorder that usually manifests itself in the latter four months of pregnancy. It can produce generalized (all-over) skin itching, but generally without a rash. The entire body, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, may be affected. You usually experience itching but no rash.
Certain pharmaceuticals, recreational substances, or herbal supplements can sometimes cause itchy skin.
Itchy skin in older individuals can often be a sign of a significant medical problem, such as kidney failure, liver illness, a blood ailment, an overactive or underactive thyroid, HIV, advanced cancer, a nervous system condition, or a mental health disorder.
It’s possible for itchy skin to affect just a small area, like the scalp, or the entire body, including arms and legs. It’s possible to have itchy skin with no other outward signs of alteration on the skin at all. Or, it could be related to the following:
- Scratch marks
- Bumps, spots or blisters
- Dry, cracked skin
- Leathery or scaly patches
Itchiness can sometimes persist for a considerable amount of time and be quite intense. When you scratch or rub the affected area, the itchiness increases. In addition, the itchier it is, the more you will scratch. It might be challenging to break the cycle of itching and scratching.
Different treatments are available for itchy skin depending on the underlying cause. Drugs used orally, medications applied topically, adjustments to one’s way of life, and several other natural therapies might be helpful.
A study conducted in 2016 found that the following medications have the potential to be helpful:
- Antihistamines. Oral antihistamines are used to treat allergic responses and itchy skin or rashes caused by insect bites or stings, hives, eczema, dermatographia, and contact dermatitis. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, a chemical that causes the body to produce more histamine.
- Oral steroids. These anti-inflammatory medications, which are often referred to as corticosteroids, may be prescribed to patients suffering from illnesses such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), persistent hives, eczema, psoriasis, as well as severe allergic reactions.
- Immunosuppressants. This class of drug dampens the activity of the immune system. Immunosuppressant medications could be beneficial in the treatment of flare-ups brought on by inflammatory disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), chronic hives, and eczema.
- Antifungal medications. The itching caused by athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, or diaper rash can be alleviated with the help of these antifungal drugs, which also treat fungal infections. The antifungal drugs griseofulvin (Gris-PEG), fluconazole (Diflucan), and itraconazole are only a few examples of the available options (Sporanox).
- Antibiotics. These medications treat infections that are brought on by bacteria. According to a study that was conducted in 2019, certain forms of antibiotics, such as rifampicin (Rifadin), can also be used to treat the itching that is brought on by liver illness. Impetigo can also be treated orally with antibiotics such as amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin) or clindamycin (Cleocin), particularly in more severe instances.
- Antidepressants. It is common procedure to treat itchy skin caused by liver illness with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include medications like sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac).
The following are some of the topical drugs that are used to treat itchy skin, and they are among the most common:
- Topical steroids. When applied to the skin, steroid creams have the effect of reducing both edema and inflammation. Instances of eczema, scabies, psoriasis, neuropathic itching, systemic lupus erythematosus, contact dermatitis, insect bites, allergic reactions, and rashes can all be treated with these medications, and they are available both over-the-counter and by prescription.
- Antifungal creams. To alleviate the discomfort caused by fungal infections such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, diaper rash, and jock itch, these creams are frequently suggested as a treatment option.
- Topical antidepressants. Doxepin, sold under the brand name Zonalon, is a tricyclic antidepressant that comes in topical form. According to a review that was conducted in 2014, it is sometimes utilized in the treatment of conditions such as eczema.
- Topical anesthetics. Pramoxine lotion, hydrocortisone-pramoxine cream, and other additional topical anesthetics are included in this category. Scabies, insect bites or stings, hives, and rashes are some of the ailments that can be alleviated temporarily with their use. They provide relief from itching as well as pain.
- Scabicide. Scabies can be treated using a topical scabicide known as permethrin cream, which is a form of topical scabicide.
- Zinc oxide. Zinc oxide, which comes in the form of a cream or a paste, has been shown to reduce the amount of skin irritation produced by diaper rash as well as other types of rashes. Additionally, it can be discovered in goods such as calamine lotion.
- Pediculicide. A topical medicine of this kind is sometimes used in order to treat an infestation of lice.
The following are some modifications to lifestyle that might be helpful in preventing itchy skin:
- Keep skin moisturized. Dry skin or eczema can cause itching, which can be relieved by using a humidifier, applying moisturizer on a daily basis, minimizing the amount of time spent in the bathtub or shower, staying hydrated, and keeping hydrated.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. This can reduce irritation to the skin and make it easier for the skin to breathe, both of which can help avoid fungal infections.
- Consume food that is good for you and well-balanced. According to the findings of a review published in the journal 2020, making adjustments to one’s diet may be able to assist in the management of symptoms associated with psoriasis, lupus, cirrhosis, and eczema.
- Get some rest and relax. A study that was conducted in 2018 found that methods of stress reduction such as yoga, meditation, and activities that involve deep breathing could potentially prevent flare-ups of illnesses such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatographia, and SLE.
- Avoid hot water. The skin might become irritated by hot water, which can make hives or dry skin worse.
- It is important to maintain good hygiene. It is possible to prevent an infection caused by pinworms and lice by taking daily showers, laundering all of your clothes and bedding, and switching out your clothes at least once every day. It is also possible that it will help block the spread of other illnesses, such as ringworm and impetigo.
- Make use of soaps and wipes that are gentle, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free. Dry skin, eczema, and diaper rash are all potential causes of irritation that can be avoided using this method.
- Avoid allergens. Beneficial effects may result from determining the foods, goods, and environmental allergens that bring on your symptoms and then avoiding those things.
The majority of cases of itching can be treated medically and do not point to a more serious condition. However, it is preferable to confirm a diagnosis and treatment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.