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Causes for Itchy Skin

Causes for Itchy Skin Causes for Itchy Skin Causes for Itchy Skin

Itchy skin usually accompanies a rash and is a result of an environmental trigger. Itchiness begins as a tingling sensation where nerve receptors tell the brain to scratch a part of the body. Most itching occurrences are not serious and may not indicate an underlying issue. A recurring problem of itchiness, however, can mean a skin problem that needs evaluation and treatment. People should contact a dermatologist immediately if a rash persists and symptoms worsen.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis causes inflammation of the skin after encountering an irritant such as detergent, soap, pollen, chemicals or animal dander, according to Medline Plus. The development of the reaction as well as the progression varies among people, although individuals with allergies tend to have a more severe reaction called allergic dermatitis. This develops when an allergen directly contacts the skin causing the release of histamine. Symptoms of swelling, inflammation and extreme itching usually appear 24 to 48 hours after exposure. For some individuals hives can appear, which are red, itchy lesions that vary in size. They usually subside on their own within a couple of hours.


Eczema is an all-encompassing term for dermatitis, which refers to several forms of skin swelling. This condition is not contagious but causes itchiness, redness and swelling of the skin, according to MedlinePlus. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, in which an allergic reaction on the skin occurs exhibiting symptoms of extreme dryness and itching. It usually affects babies and children but can occur in anyone. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskelteal and Skin Diseases says that the origin of atopic dermatitis remains unknown, however, it is most likely a result of genetic and environmental influences. Patients should refrain from scratching irritated skin to prevent a secondary bacterial infection and keep the area clean of any contaminants, including beauty products. Corticosteroid creams can relieve swelling and irritation, as well as reduce itchiness.

Dry Skin

The most common cause of itchiness is dry skin, according to MedlinePlus. It usually occurs on the lower legs, arms, flanks and thighs and can appear as scaly, cracks in the skin. Seasonal occurrences of this condition often appear during the winter and summer when temperatures become extreme and humidity levels are low. This causes the skin to lose its natural moisture making it crack, peel and inflame. Bathing frequently especially with products that dry out the skin can significantly contribute to dry skin and itching. MedlinePlus recommends using warm, not hot, water for bathing, use moisture-rich body products and drinking water for proper levels of hydration.

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