Itching on the Body: What is it, Diagnosis and Treatment
Body pruritus is defined as a persistent itching or tingling sensation throughout the body or in a specific area. Persistent itching is an uncomfortable feeling and may not be controlled. Even if you don’t want to scratch, you may not be able to stop yourself. Your skin may become irritated as a result of constant scratching. The causes of this itching mostly include skin diseases or internal diseases. However, apart from these, there are many reasons that cause itching in the body.
What is Itching on the Body?
Itching on the body may occur only in specific and small areas, as in an insect bite, or throughout the body, as in an allergy. During itching, no serious changes may occur on the skin or it may cause some symptoms.
- Inflammation on the skin
- Scratches or scars resulting from prolonged scratching
- Dry, cracked, scaly skin
Sometimes the itching sensation can be severe and persistent. In this case, you cannot stop yourself and continue to scratch or rub the area. The area continues to itch as you scratch, and at this point you enter a cycle. This cycle may be called the itch-sore cycle. It can be challenging to break this cycle of the more you scratch, the more you itch.
Itching that occurs on the body is usually not caused by a serious reason and does not cause any serious problems. Itching on the body is often a symptom, so treatment is applied to the underlying cause. If you do not know what causes the itching in your body, it is useful to consult a doctor. Your doctor determines the underlying cause and implements a treatment plan accordingly. This treatment plan may often include some type of cream or moisturizer.
What Causes Itching in the Body?
There may be many reasons for itching in the body. Some causes of itching include:
- Dermatitis (Skin infection)
- Xerosis (dry skin)
- Psoriasis (Autoimmune disease that causes skin discoloration and irritation)
- Hives (raised, discolored spots on the skin as a result of an allergic reaction)
- Ringworm (Skin fungal infection)
- Liver, kidney diseases
- Endocrine diseases such as diabetes, thyroid gland diseases
- Scabies, parasites, insect bites
- Burn or scars
- Allergy (The body’s reaction to anything eaten or touched, thinking it is being invaded)
- Dermatography (Any pressure on the skin causes a red and itchy rash)
- some types of cancer
- Opioid medications (narcotics) used to treat pain
- Nerve disorders such as shingles and multiple sclerosis
- Psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder
What Does Itching in the Body Signify?
Itching on the body is usually not a sign of something big. There are many factors that cause itching. These may be allergies, old age or skin diseases. Itching is a condition that negatively affects a person’s quality of life, and it is natural that you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Once the cause of the itching is determined, treatment is applied accordingly. During this process, you may have some tips that you can apply at home to relieve or improve itching.
Itching on the body can sometimes last longer than six weeks. In this case, it is called chronic itching. This type of itching, which deeply affects a person’s quality of life, can affect your daily activities and even your sleep, causing your stress levels to increase. Additionally, constant scratching may cause the itching to increase in intensity. Constantly scratching the same area may result in skin irritation, resulting in infection or skin injuries.
How to Treat Itching on the Body?
If you are experiencing persistent itching on your body, it would be beneficial to be examined by a dermatologist. The dermatologist begins his examination with your medical history. He or she may ask you some questions about the problem you are complaining about and how long it has existed. Then he will examine you physically. As a result of this examination, the doctor may come to a conclusion about the reason for the itching or think that it is due to a medical reason. Your doctor will ask you to have some extra tests to be sure. These tests are:
- Blood tests check for conditions that may cause itching, such as anemia
- Liver and kidney function tests
- Chest x-ray, checking for the presence of enlarged lymph nodes
Body itching and subsequent skin symptoms can be uncomfortable and even frustrating for the patient. As a result of the above-mentioned process, the cause of itching is determined and its treatment is planned in the next step. Generally, itching treatments are as follows:
- Corticosteroid creams: Corticosteroid creams and ointments are among the first treatment options for itchy and inflamed skin. After applying the cream to the problematic area, you can wrap it with cotton material. The moisture stored in this way helps the skin absorb the cream better. In any case, consult your doctor before trying it.
- A soothing routine can be applied for long-term itching. To do this, first hold the area where the itching is intense under warm water for 20 minutes. Then apply 0.025% to 0.1% triamcinolone cream to the skin. This cream locks in moisture and helps the skin absorb the medicine. You can repeat this routine right before going to sleep for a few days to see its benefits.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI): These are drugs taken orally. It is known as an antidepressant. There are types containing fluoxetine and sertraline. It may be effective in improving itching in the presence of long-term itching. However, the body has an adaptation period to SSRI drugs. Therefore, you may not feel like you are getting the full benefit of these medications during the initial 8-12 weeks.
- Light therapy (phototherapy): This is a type of treatment in which the skin is exposed to a certain type of light. It may be an alternative treatment option for people who cannot use medications taken orally or applied to the skin such as cream and ointment for various reasons.
What is Good for Itching in the Body?
Itching may not fully subside until treated. However, in this process, some home treatment tips can be mentioned to improve the itching sensation. These are generally as follows:
- Moisturize your skin regularly with a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Use medicated shampoos by consulting the pharmacy.
- Use hypoallergenic lotions or gels that cool the skin.
- Avoid scratching. For this, you can cover the itchy area.
- Do not rub your body too hard during the bath.
- Manage your stress. For this, you can try various sports such as yoga.
- Get a humidifier for your home.
- Make sure you get adequate rest.
Treatment of Itching in the Body
Depending on the cause of body itching, you can try the following treatment options:
- If you have itching caused by dry skin, you need to make sure you moisturize your skin thoroughly. You can moisturize your skin within 5 minutes after bathing.
- For itching caused by eczema, keep the cloth soaked in cold water on the itchy area for a while and then moisten that area thoroughly.
- In case of allergy-related itching, you should consult a doctor and find out what you are allergic to. Then, you treat the itching by preventing your exposure to the allergen.
- Itching that occurs with aging is normal. With advancing age, the skin becomes thinner, causing it to have less moisture. In this case, you may need to make some changes in your skin routine.
- Be sure to share any itching sensation that occurs as a side effect of any medication or treatment with your doctor. He or she can give you another suitable medicine or small tips.