What causes itching?
The medical name for itching is ‘ pruritus ‘. It can be felt throughout the body or in a specific area, and persistent itching can reach an annoying level. In some cases, other symptoms such as skin redness or blisters are also observed along with itching.
Eczema-like skin diseases, allergic reactions, insect bites, fungal infection, intestinal parasites, systematic diseases or hormonal changes are among the main causes of itching. Abnormalities in the immune system, kidney, liver or thyroid gland diseases can cause general itching throughout the body. Rashes or hives are also known causes of itching.
In most cases, when the underlying condition of the itching is treated, the itching stops. In the meantime, washing with cold water, moisturizing the skin, not wearing clothes that will itch the skin, using perfume-free skin care products, applying calamine lotion or applying cold compresses to the itchy area may provide some relief. Additionally, medications used to treat itching, such as antihistamines or steroid creams, may also be helpful.
‘ Allergic contact eczema ‘ , which means the skin reacts to some substances it comes into contact with, is generally responsible for itching caused by allergies . Nickel jewelry, thorny plants, fabric dye, rubber gloves or chemicals in cosmetic products such as soap and perfume can trigger allergies. Due to the immune system taking action against allergens, an itching accompanied by a burning sensation begins.
Allergic contact eczema develops more easily in people who are prone to asthma, eczema or hay fever. For treatment, it must first be determined what the skin reacts to. Keeping the skin moist and using anti-allergic cosmetic products will provide relief.
If there is only itching on the skin and this symptom is not accompanied by any other rash-like abnormality, then dry skin is usually suspected. In fact, it is normal for the skin to dry out with age, but when itching comes into play, external conditions may also have an impact. The skin may become dry and itchy due to reasons such as low humidity in the air, exposure to air conditioning for a long time, central heating, chlorinated water or taking too many baths. It may be good not to forget to use plenty of moisturizer.
Even just 15 minutes of exposure to the sun may be enough to activate your immune system. You may see the first symptoms within a day after your first exposure to the sun. Small, red spots and itching, especially on the chest and arms, mean that you have an allergic reaction to the sun. It is a very common condition and the best remedy is to be careful when going out in the sun.
Apart from sun allergies, sunburns also cause the skin to become red and itchy.
Skin Diseases and Infections
Itching is among the symptoms of many skin diseases such as eczema, dandruff, fungus, scabies, psoriasis, lice, hives and chickenpox. In itching caused by skin diseases, itching affects certain areas and red spots, skin irritation, flaking or blisters may appear in the itchy areas.
When you see such abnormalities on the skin along with itching, the first step should be to see a doctor and find out what your condition is. Treatment for skin disease will also relieve itching.
Hives occur when the chemical called histamine , produced by the body against allergens, is secreted too much by skin cells. White or red blisters, approximately 1 cm in size, appear on the skin and cause itching. There are two types of hives: acute and chronic.
Acute hives can occur due to flu, cold, insect bite, or exposure to chemicals in certain foods such as tomatoes, tuna, and bananas.
Chronic urticaria lasts longer than 6 weeks and occurs when antibodies in the immune system attack the body and cause the secretion of histamine. Alcohol, stress and high blood pressure will worsen the situation.
Hormonal changes can cause general itching in the body, as if ants are crawling on you. One theory why this happens is that fluctuating hormone levels affect nerve endings in the skin. Reducing foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, preventing the skin from drying out by drinking plenty of water and moisturizing, staying away from stress, sun rays, smoking, and taking care to get enough sleep can help relieve these itches.
Some women experience an itching problem that occurs during pregnancy. Itching occurs especially in the abdomen, thighs, chest and arms. Pregnancy can also trigger skin problems that cause eczema-like itching. Itching during pregnancy usually ends after birth.
Some medications, such as penicillin, painkillers, antifungals, aspirin, or antibiotics, can cause itching and rash. Because medications are foreign chemicals that enter the body, the body can respond with an allergic response within a few hours. In this case, the best solution would be to talk to your doctor and ask if it is possible to change the medication.
Itching may also be among the symptoms of liver disorders, underactive or overactive thyroid gland, Celiac disease, chronic kidney diseases, anemia (iron deficiency), and Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin’s lymphoma). In the case of these types of diseases, itching usually affects the whole body and is not localized. The skin appears normal, except for areas that are irritated from scratching. Considering the itching and other abnormalities throughout the body, it would be appropriate to see a doctor. If no guess can be made about the cause of the itching, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
When to See a Doctor for Itching
- Very severe itching.
- If there is itching that lasts for a long time, does not go away for days, or is recurring.
- If you have other symptoms in addition to itching, such as jaundice, difficulty breathing or inflammation of the skin.
- If the whole body itches for an unknown reason.