Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. Also known as pruritus (proo-RIE-tus), itchy skin can be caused or worsened by dry skin. It’s ordinary in older adults, as skin tends to become drier with age.
Depending on the reason of your itchy skin, it may appear normal, red, rough or bumpy. Repeated scratching can reason raised thick areas of skin that might bleed or become infected.
Itchy skin can be the result of a rash or another skin situation. It can also be a symptom of a more serious situation such as liver disease or kidney failure. To get relief, it is important to identify the problem and treat the underlying cause.
You may have itchy skin over certain small areas, such as on an arm or leg, or over your whole body. Itchy skin can happen without any other noticeable changes on the skin. Or it may be associated with:
- Bumps, spots or blisters
- Dry, cracked skin
- Leathery or scaly skin
Causes of itchy skin include:
Nerve disorders-Conditions that affect the nervous system — such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, pinched nerves and shingles (herpes zoster) — can reason itching.
Psychiatric diseases- Examples of psychiatric diseases that can reason itchy skin are anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.
Skin conditions-Many skin situation itch, including dry skin (xerosis), eczema (dermatitis), psoriasis, scabies, burns, scars, insect bites and hives.
Internal diseases- Itchy skin can be a symptom of an underlying illness. These include liver disease, kidney failure, iron deficiency anemia, thyroid problems and certain cancers, including multiple myeloma and lymphoma.
Irritation and allergic reactions– Wool, chemicals, soaps and other substances can irritate the skin and cause itching. Sometimes the substance, such as poison ivy, parasites or cosmetics, reasons an allergic reaction. Also, reactions to certain drugs, such as narcotic pain medications (opioids) can reason itchy skin.
Pregnancy-During pregnancy, some women experience itchy skin.