1. Dry skin
The skin’s outer layer is called the stratum corneum, and it can get parched on occasion due to special lipids acting as a barrier to your skin being in short supply. Although scratching your dry skin might temporarily relieve itching, it’ll almost certainly damage your skin’s outer layer even further. Remedy itches caused by dry skin by taking warm (rather than hot) showers and applying a moisturizing ointment or cream while your skin is still damp.
2. Insect bites and stings
A mosquito bite results in your immune system detecting the little critter’s saliva, immediately triggering a release of histamines. It’s the latter that causes you to itch, rather than a mosquito bite itself. Chiggers, which are baby mites found in forests or grassy areas, can also release an enzyme into the skin that erodes tissue and causes skins cells on the periphery to harden and itch. Last but not least, fire ant stings release venom that results in itchy, pus-filled blisters. If you’re bitten or touched by any of these bugs, cool the offending area with an ice pack or apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
3. Wounds that are almost (but not quite) healed
Cuts and scrapes don’t itch until they’re right at the very end of the healing process. This is part of the body’s natural inflammatory response, because nerves are damaged when skin gets broken. Their wires get crossed as a result, causing an itching sensation. Scratching an almost-healed wound can prolong the healing process or worsen scarring. Try applying a cooling topical menthol to avert the need to scratch.
Sunburn is horrible in itself, but the itch that sets in as a result of it is also terrible. In fact, it’s so aggravating that many people refer to it as hell’s itch. Sunburn sends your body’s inflammatory response into high gear. Although the nerves in the skin don’t get severed because of sunburn, they do get riled up, which causes itching. Aloe Vera gel is a great way of calming an itch from sunburn, while cortisone cream can help to ease inflammation.
Although it’s often used as an umbrella term for dry, rough and inflamed skin, eczema is typically used to refer to atopic dermatitis, a condition in which the skin’s outer layer fails to work properly. The effect is the same regardless of the cause – itching. It can be incredibly hard to resist scratching this kind of itch, but you really should try, because doing so could lead to you developing prurigo nodularis, which is the formation of itchy bumps.
You can remedy this ill by using cool compresses and thick hypoallergenic creams, but if the itching is still too much to bear, then you should see a doctor. Your doctor will likely prescribe you with a strong topical steroid to break through rough skin, together with antihistamines to calm inflammation.
A highly overactive immune system is responsible for psoriasis – it causes the body to produce cells at a very rapid rate. This leads to the new cells being pushed to the surface in as little as three days. The process is normally supposed to take 28 to 30 days.
The resulting redness and flakiness are caused by dead skin cells not being able to shed quickly enough to keep up with new skin cell growth. As you can imagine, psoriasis can be terribly itchy. If you happen to have psoriasis, you can ease its symptoms by moisturizing, but your doctor might also prescribe special treatments such as ultraviolet light therapy and prescription medications.
7. Contact dermatitis
A sub-category of eczema, irritants or allergens are often the causes of contact dermatitis. These irritants break through the skin’s outer layer and cause immediate inflammation. This inflammation eventually leads to a rash at the point of contact or somewhere else on your skin. Resist the urge to scratch if you want to avoid bleeding, infection and even more intense itching. Soothe the itch with a cool compress, hydrocortisone cream or over-the-counter allergy medication.
Dandruff is caused by a fungus called malassezia, which actually lives in everyone’s scalp, but causes irritation and excess skin cell growth in those who develop dandruff. What’s more is that dandruff can itch really badly. If you happen to have dandruff, invest in an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that will help to manage the pesky fungus. A dermatologist can recommend something stronger if a shampoo doesn’t work.
9. Athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot does far more than cause scaly skin – the fungus can also make the soles of your feet (and the skin in between your toes) really dry and itchy, not to mention make them turn red. Scratching athlete’s foot will result in fissuring, infection and potentially spreading the fungus to other parts of your body. Treat it with over-the-counter antifungal cream and, failing that, consult your doctor about a more potent solution.
Having hemorrhoids is never an easy thing to talk about. They’re caused by swollen veins in the surface of the lower rectum’s mucus membrane and the anus, leaving excess itchy skin as they dissolved. Refrain from scratching them to make the itch worse. An over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream can help to put them right, as can witch-hazel pads or ice packs. Also take care when wiping your behind after a bowel movement, because being too vigorous can just make everything worse.