ITCHING / PRURITUS

About Pruritus :

Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. Also known as pruritus (proo-RIE-tus), itchy skin is usually caused by dry skin. 

 

Causes :

  • Dry skin. Seen in older age or due to environmental factors such as long-term use of air conditioning or central heating, and washing or bathing too much.

  • Skin conditions and rashes. Many skin conditions itch, including eczema (dermatitis), psoriasis, scabies, lice, chickenpox and hives. 

  • Internal diseases. Itchy skin can be a symptom of an underlying illness. These include liver disease, kidney failure, iron deficiency anaemia, thyroid problems and cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma. 

  • Nerve disorders such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, pinched nerves and shingles (herpes zoster) — can cause itching.

  • Irritation and allergic reactions.

  • Drug reaction such as in antibiotics, antifungal drugs or narcotic pain medications.

  • Pregnancy. 

 

Complication :

Prolonged itching and scratching may increase the intensity of the itch, possibly leading to:

  • Skin injury

  • Infection

  • Scarring

Presentation :

Itchy skin can occur without any other noticeable changes on the skin. Or it may be associated with:

  • Redness

  • Bumps, spots or blisters

  • Dry, cracked skin

  • Leathery or scaly texture to the skin

Sometimes itchiness lasts a long time and can be intense. As you rub or scratch the area, it gets itchier.

ITCHING: Tips for Managing

  • Bath in cool or lukewarm water before bed, using only moisturizing, scent-free soaps, baking soda, or colloidal oatmeal 

  • Apply glycerine based, oil- and alcohol-free moisturizers before bedtime.

  • Use natural ointments and creams with Vitamin E and aloe vera.

  • Trim the fingernails to reduce the chances of further irritating the skin

  • Do not allow pets in the bedroom

  • Checking the bedroom for signs of bed bugs or other insect infestations, including fleas or biting ants.

  • Stay hydrated to reduce dry skin.

  • Avoid saunas and long, warm baths or showers before bedtime to prevent increased body temperature and moisture loss.

  • Avoid scented or dyed cosmetic, cleansing, or beauty treatments before bedtime.

  • Avoid chemicals such as caffeine and alcohol that can increase blood flow to the skin.

  • Changing bedding regularly, ideally weekly.

Dr Gauri's

Skin & Hair Clinic

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