Itching (pruritus) is a sensation of the skin to which you react with scratching or rubbing. The causes behind the unpleasant itching are manifold: itching can be caused, among other things, by a dry skin, an allergic reaction as well as by diseases of the skin or internal organs. Certain diseases cause itching all over the body. However, it can also be restricted locally to specific parts of the body such as the scalp or the genital area. Read here what you can do to prevent unpleasant itching.
Itching - multiple causes
Itching is often triggered by too dry skin or by skin conditions such as hives, psoriasis or atopic dermatitis. If a skin disease is the cause, in addition to itching, changes to the skin usually occur as well. In addition, hypersensitivity to certain foods, medications and insect bites can cause itching.
In rare cases, itching can be a symptom of an internal disease - for example, it can be caused by diabetes, a liver or kidney disorder, and leukemia. In such diseases, the itching occurs without skin changes. However, this is also the case with so-called idiopathic itching which has no apparent cause. Often then put mental problems behind the complaints.
Dry skin as a cause
Dry skin not only feels rough and tense, it can also itch. Possible causes include external factors such as dry indoor air or exaggerated hygiene. For example, certain care products can dry out the skin. In addition, it is also possible that internal causes, such as problems in the regulation of fat and moisture, lead to a dry skin.
If you have dry skin, you should avoid using perfumed care products when washing and showering and prefer to use acid-neutral products instead. Also cream the skin regularly. Most suitable are moisturizing lotions. Also make sure to drink enough liquid.
Since dry skin and itching can conceal serious illnesses, you should seek medical attention if these measures do not work.
Rash and itching
If itching occurs together with a rash, often skin diseases such as hives, psoriasis or eczema are behind the discomfort. While hives develop itchy hives, in psoriasis reddened skin areas appear whose uppermost layer of skin is white-skinned. Characteristic of atopic dermatitis is a red rash that feels rough and scaly.
In addition to these three skin diseases but also skin infections and the so-called nodular lichen associated with rash and itching. In the latter form blue-red nodules, which are about pin size and itch strongly. The symptoms are especially common on the wrists and lower leg. Children suffering from skin rash and itching may also be the cause of typical childhood diseases such as chickenpox.
Scabies as a cause
Scabies is a skin disease caused by mites. The itch mites preferably affect the areas between the fingers and toes as well as the armpits and the genital area. There they dig into the upper layer of the cornea and thus have a relatively secure hiding place, in which they can survive even full baths.
In the case of scabies it comes next to a strong itching to a red, nodular rash. With the aid of a magnifying glass, it is often possible to identify the passages that the mites have dug into the skin. Mostly, the disease can be treated well with anti-mite agents that are applied externally to the skin.
Allergy as a trigger
An allergic reaction of the body is often accompanied by itching. In an allergy, the immune system reacts extremely harmless substances and causes the body to release larger amounts of the messenger histamine. This then ensures, for example in hay fever that itchy eyes and nose.
In addition to hay fever, itching can also be triggered by other types of allergies - including contact allergies. If complaining occurs only locally on certain parts of the body, you should check whether a particular garment - such as a pair of tights or a watch - can be the trigger.
In addition, itching can also be caused by an allergy to certain foods or medicines. If you suffer from itching, for which there is no obvious cause, you should always consider that an allergy could be the cause and cause an allergy test.
Itching during pregnancy
Itching is a symptom that often occurs during pregnancy. About 20 percent of all pregnant women are affected. It is believed that in most cases, the hormonal changes in the body are the trigger. Often the symptoms can be alleviated by regular creaming with a moisturizing lotion.
However, severe itching, which occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy, may indicate liver disease - a so-called intrahepatic pregnancy scholestasis. Although less than one percent of all pregnant women are affected by this condition in Germany, it should nevertheless be ruled out if there is severe itching. For the liver disease can result in both a premature birth and a stillbirth.
What to do against annoying itching?
If itching occurs along with a rash, you should consult a dermatologist and have the exact cause clarified. If necessary, the doctor can prescribe suitable medications. For example, cortisone-containing ointments can help relieve itching.
If itching without skin rash, you should first check whether your skin may be too dry. If this is not the case, or the symptoms are not less despite careful skin care, a doctor must examine whether there is a disease. If this is the case, the treatment depends on the particular underlying disease.
If it is idiopathic itching, itching remedies can help. Externally applied are local anesthetics, which inhibit the transmission of stimuli between the nerve cells. Likewise, isoprenaline - an ingredient in the group of betamimetics - as well as cooling ointments and gels with menthol or camphor can help to relieve the itching. If in doubt, talk to a doctor before using any of these remedies.
If the itching occurs over a large area of the body, the intake of H1-receptor blockers, which inhibit the effect of histamine in the body, provide relief. Likewise, in many patients, treatment with UVB rays has proved helpful. It is very important that you do not scratch the itchy areas even if you have itching. Because of the scratching, it can not only lead to unsightly scratch marks on the skin, but it can also cause infections.