Itchy Skin on the Entire Body
Having itchy skin on your entire body can be irritating and even debilitating if you can't find a way to soothe it. Although the underlying physical cause of an itch isn't known, it involves chemicals being released in the skin and the nerves sending signals to the brain, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Numerous conditions, ranging from environmental to health-related, can trigger an itch.
Your itchy skin is likely due to dryness if it isn't accompanied by other noticeable skin conditions such as a rash. Skin dryness can occur due to overexposure to water, long-term use of artificial cooling and heating devices and is prevalent in dry and hot or cold weather, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other possible causes of itchy skin include rashes, such as chickenpox and psoriasis, internal diseases, such as thyroid problems and liver disease and pregnancy. Other causes can be irritations to external triggers, such as soaps and wool, allergic reactions to substances, such as poison ivy and cosmetics, and adverse reactions to drugs, such as antibiotics and antifungals.
Scratching at a persistent itch may make the itch worse and can lead to a condition called neurodermatitis, which appears as darkened, thick and leathery skin in the affected area, according to the Mayo Clinic. Persistent scratching may also cause a bacterial infection or lead to permanent scars and skin color changes. To prevent potential complications, talk to your doctor if your itching is severe, if it doesn't go away, if you cannot explain the cause or if it occurs with other symptoms you can't explain, the Mayo Clinic recommends.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the underlying cause of your itchy skin by visual examination and asking questions about your medical history, the onset of the itch and your skincare practices, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. He may also perform a skin scrape, blood test or biopsy to make or confirm a diagnosis, according to the academy.
Although itching skin on the entire body may be caused by one of many conditions, some basic themes prevail in most treatments, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Your doctor will likely recommend showering using tepid to lukewarm water, using a gentle cleanser that has a low pH, completely rinsing your skin after you wash, blotting rather than rubbing the skin dry and immediately applying a moisturizer after you shower, according to the academy. Wearing light, breathable and loose attire and taking a cool bath with dried oatmeal sprinkled in may also help reduce the itch.
Depending on the cause of your skin itch, your doctor may prescribe an oral antihistamine if you have allergies or a corticosteroid cream to reduce the itching from skin inflammation, according to the Mayo Clinic. She may also prescribe wet dressings--medicated cream covered by damp cotton material--or recommend an office treatment, such as light therapy. If your itch is a symptom of an internal medical problem, your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat the disease before the itch will subside.
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