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Itchy skin, also known as pruritus, is an irritating and uncontrollable sensation that makes you want to scratch to relieve the feeling. The possible causes for itchiness range from internal illnesses, such as kidney or liver disease, to skin rashes, allergies, and dermatitis.
It’s important to see a doctor for itchiness if the cause isn’t obvious. A doctor can find the underlying cause and provide treatments for relief. Several home remedies such as over-the-counter creams and moisturizers work well for itching.
Causes of Itching
Itchiness can be generalized (all over the body) or localized to one small region or spot. The possible causes are numerous and varied. It may be a result of something very serious, such as kidney failure or diabetes (though uncommon), or can come from something less severe, such as dry skin or insect bites (more likely).
Many skin conditions that are common can cause itchy skin. The following can affect any area of skin on the body:
- dermatitis: inflammation of the skin
- eczema: a chronic skin disorder that includes itchy, scaly rashes
- psoriasis: an autoimmune disease that causes skin redness and irritation, usually in the form of plaques
- dermatographism: a raised, red, itchy rash caused by pressure on the skin
Infections that cause itching include:
- chicken pox
- fungal rashes
- mites, including bedbugs
Substances that irritate the skin and make it itchy are common. Plants such as poison ivy and oak and insects such as mosquitoes produce substances that cause itching. Some people get itchy when in contact with wool, perfumes, certain soaps or dyes, and chemicals. Allergies, including food allergies, can irritate the skin as well.
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