Various conditions can cause an individual to be itchy which may lead to skin redness and rashes. However, some may experience itchy skin with no rash. This condition is referred to as pruritus. What is pruritus and how can it be treated?
What is Pruritus?
This condition refers to an intense desire to scratch due to the itchy sensation of the skin. Pruritus is a symptom of an underlying systemic illness, skin disease or a psychological disorder. For numerous skin disorders, pruritus is the most common symptom.
Approximately eight to nine percent of the general populace experience pruritus. It may be generalized or specific to an area of the skin. If the condition extends for more than six weeks, then it is referred to as chronic pruritus.
Numerous factors can cause itchy skin. Some of these include the following.
As mentioned, pruritus may be an indication of an underlying disease. Such illnesses may include thyroid problems, iron deficiency anemia, liver disease, and kidney failure. It may also be indicative of cancer, such as lymphoma or multiple myeloma.
Dry skin may cause itching. Other skin conditions that cause itching also include hives, insect bites, burns, scabies, scars, eczema, and psoriasis.
Itchy skin may be a symptom of psychiatric disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety.
Some conditions that affect an individual’s nervous system can lead to itchy skin. Such conditions include shingles, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.
Substances that may cause irritation or an allergic reaction cause the skin to itch. The common substances that lead to itchiness include soaps, chemicals, cosmetics, poison ivy, parasites, and wool. Some drugs are also likely to cause an allergic reaction that leads to pruritus.
Women who are pregnant sometimes experience bouts of severe itchiness. In some cases, the cause of the itchy skin is undeterminable.
In individuals above 65 years old, itchy skin with no rash is common and is usually due to dry skin.
Some drugs may cause an adverse reaction such as itchiness. Speak to a doctor about the medication that is causing the feelings of itchiness. The physician may then prescribe a different medication that does not cause such a side effect.
Itchy skin may occur with or without changes on the skin. Some of the symptoms associated with pruritus may include the following.
- Blisters, Bumps, or Spots
- Cracked, Dry Skin
- Scaly, Leathery Skin
The feeling of itchiness may be intense when the area is scratched. When a person scratches, the skin becomes itchier than when it is not rubbed or scratched.
When to See a Doctor
An individual should seek the advice of a doctor if he or she experiences the following.
- Itchiness fails to improve after home remedies.
- Itchiness lasts more than a week.
- Itchiness affects the entire body.
- Itchiness suddenly attacks, and its cause cannot be determined.
- Itchiness is severe.
- Itchiness distracts an individual from activities of daily life.
- Itchiness affects the quality of sleep.
- Itchiness is paired with other symptoms like weight loss, fever, redness of the skin, fatigue, and changes in bowel or bladder habits.
For conditions that persist after three months of continuous treatment, it is advised that an individual seeks advice from an internist. This is to evaluate the individual for the presence of an underlying condition that is causing pruritus.
For itchiness that is a symptom of an underlying internal problem, the treatment is focused on the internal disorder. As for itchiness caused by other factors, some of the recommended treatment methods are as follows.
Creams that contain anti-itch compounds can be bought without a prescription. Such creams contain lauromacrogols or crotamiton. Doctors may also recommend doxepin cream that also contains antihistamines.
For some cases of pruritus, antihistamines in syrup or tablet form can help. The non-sedating type is usually prescribed since the sedating type is no longer advised.
For itchiness brought about by dry skin, moisturizers or emollients are used. Individuals with dry and scaly skin are advised to use moisturizers frequently.
Steroid Ointments or Creams
For itchiness that causes inflammation and redness, topical steroids are advised.
This treatment is administered at the hospital. Ultraviolet light is aimed at the skin for the reduction of pruritus.
Itchy skin can lead to an unhealthy habit of scratching that may be difficult to break. Try to identify the times in a day or the activities that cause the skin to itch. By identifying such factors, it may aid an individual break and reverse the unhealthy behavior. In turn, it may break the itch-scratch cycle.
Self-care is needed to prevent pruritus. Some of the methods to avoid itchy skin include the following.
- Shower using tepid water. Also, take a bath once a day. This helps keep the natural oils in the skin to avoid dryness that leads to itching.
- Avoid soaps or body wash that claim to be great for dry skin. These substances may harm the skin further. Also, opt for fragrance-free soaps.
- Avoid long baths in the tub, especially when using hot water. Doing so may strip off natural oils from the skin.
- Keep the bedroom cool. Avoid using heavy comforters, especially if one feels hot and itchy.
- Moisturize the skin, especially if one has dry skin. Apart from keeping the skin supple and soft, reduces skin scaling that often leads to itchiness.
- For individuals who already experience pruritus, pat the skin rather than scratching it. Also, avoid factors that lead to itchy skin.
- Wear clothes that are loose and breathable, especially for days when it is hot and humid.
Manage and treat itchy skin right at home with these natural remedies.
It contains cooling compounds that alleviate itching and pain. Before applying this essential oil to the skin, make sure to dilute it in a carrier oil. Also, do a spot test to check for allergies to the product.
Wet and Cold Pack
As stated in a study by the American Academy of Dermatology, the application of a wet and cold cloth over the itchy area for five to ten minutes can relieve itchiness. This is because cooling reduces the inflammation that triggers itchiness.
Another method is using water-soaked gauze and wrapping it around the itchy area. It helps soothe and rehydrate the skin. This method works best for children.