What Is Darkened Itchy Skin?
Darkened, itchy skin can stem from a number of causes, ranging from simple dry skin to certain skin disorders. Although darkened itchy skin is generally harmless, it can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Often, these areas of irritated skin can be remedied at home with common skin care products, but more stubborn skin issues may require the assistance of a dermatologist to resolve. Left untreated, darkened, itchy skin can lead to complications, such as skin infection.
Extremely dry skin can be the cause of darkened, itchy skin, as can skin conditions that include atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, contact dermatitis and psoriasis, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Skin irritation due to these conditions often causes itching, redness and inflammation, which can cause skin in the irritated areas to become rough and discolored.
Medline Plus suggests the use of moisturizers to sooth irritated skin, as well as cortizone creams to reduce swelling and antihistamines to relieve itching. Merck Manuals recommends applying cloth dipped in cool water to soothe irritated skin, or short, cool baths with colloidal oatmeal added to the water to help control itching. The Mayo Clinic website suggests covering the area with a dressing if you can't resist scratching it, as well as keeping nails trimmed short and wearing gloves to bed to prevent scratching in your sleep.
Once your darkened, itchy skin has healed, take a few preventative measures to spare you from another skin eruption and its associated discomforts. Avoid long, hot showers or baths, as hot water can dry out the skin. Use lukewarm water instead of hot, mild skin cleansers instead of harsh soaps and limit showers or baths to 10 minutes. Pat your skin dry gently, rather than rubbing, and moisturize your skin immediately.
Prolonged or severe skin irritation can lead to a number of complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, continued itching and scratching may increase the intensity of the itch and possibly lead to neurodermatitis, or lichen simplex chronicus, which is a condition in which an area of skin becomes thick and leathery from frequent scratching, creating patches that can be red, raw or darker than the surrounding skin. The Mayo Clinc also warns that persistent scratching can lead to bacterial skin infection and permanent scarring or changes in skin color.
When to See Your Doctor
Swollen, red, tender and warm skin can indicate that a bacterial infection has developed and should be evaluated by a medical professional. According to the Mayo Clinic, some bacterial skin infections can become very serious, such as cellulitis, which can be life-threatening in those with compromised immune systems. Consult your doctor if itchy, darkened skin has not responded to self-care methods within two weeks to rule out underlying health issues, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, or chronic skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
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