Itchy skin, also known as “pruritus,” is a very frequent complaint and an extremely unpleasant feeling. Pruritus may be felt as a stabbing, burning, biting, prickling or gnawing sensation. Those affected have the urge, often difficult or impossible to resist, to counter the sensation by scratching, pressing, pinching or abrading their skin.
How itching starts
What are the causes of itchy skin?
- Kidney, liver, or thyroid disorders, diabetes mellitus, iron deficiency, blood disorders
- Worm-related conditions
- Cancer (e.g. prostate cancer)
- Neurological conditions (e.g. zoster neuralgia after shingles)
- Mental-health disorders (psychosis)
- Particular medicinal products
- Atopic dermatitis (neurodermatitis)
- Contact allergies
- Healing after sunburn (dermatitis solaris)
- Dry “old-age” skin
- Hives (urticaria)
- Chilblains (pernio)
- Drug-induced exanthem
- Auto-immune disorders of the skin
- Skin infections (shingles, herpes simplex, scarlet fever, chickenpox, fungal diseases)
- Infestation of the skin by itch mites (scabies), lice (pediculosis), insect bites, or worms (oxyuriasis)
Avoid substances that could irritate your skin. Use basic care containing substances with urea that replenish and dissolve flakes of dead skin.
When itching is acute, do not scratch
Those affected by itching of the legs or back feel a strong urge to scratch, rub or abrade the itchy areas, but it is important to refrain from doing so. Usually, the additional irritation just intensifies the itching. Instead, damp, cooling compresses made with yogurt or black tea can be used to bring about significant relief from pruritis. After such cooling, the skin should then be massaged with a replenishing or moisturizing lotion. Because itching often occurs at night, and children in particular often scratch then without knowing it, cotton gloves should be worn to protect the skin.
Keep a symptom diary
If the itching is caused by allergies or an inappropriate diet, the allergens or foods that trigger it should be avoided. The same thing applies for all factors that cause dry skin, which frequently leads to itching and can be treated very easily with replenishing, moisturizing skin-care products.
Relaxation exercises or regular yoga can reduce stress and be an additional helpful supportive measure for many affected individuals.