Itchiness is an undesirable sensation that forces an individual to scratch an affected area. Itchiness is medically called as pruritus. It is important to note that itchiness can affect any part of the body that can either be:
- Generalized – occurs all over the body
- Localized – occurs only in a specific region
Oftentimes, there might be a rash or spot where the itchiness occurs. A mild, brief episode of itchiness is prevalent, but the issue can become severe occasionally and quite frustrating to live with.
The itchiness can be brought about by various conditions such as the following:
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Skin reactions or allergies
- Insect bites and stings
- Parasitic infestations such as scabies
- Fungal infections such as vaginal thrush or athlete’s foot
- Hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy
- Systemic conditions such as kidney or liver issues or an overly active thyroid gland
What can you do for the itchiness?
If an individual experiences troublesome itchiness, there are measures that can be done to relieve it as well as prevent damage due to scratching such as:
- Patting the itchy region instead of scratching
- Bathing or showering in lukewarm or cool water
- Apply a cold compress such as moist towel or cloth over the area
- Use a moisturizer or emollient if the skin is flaky or dry
- Avoid clothes that can irritate the skin such as synthetic fabrics or wool
There are also medications such as steroid creams and antihistamines that are available over-the-counter that can alleviate the itchiness triggered by certain skin issues.
When to consult a doctor
Most cases of itchiness settle over a brief period of time. Nevertheless, a doctor should be consulted if the itchiness is severe, persists for an extended period of time, recurrent or linked with other symptoms such as swelling, redness or jaundice.
A doctor should be consulted if the whole body itches and there is no evident reason since this might indicate a serious condition.
In some instances, skin scraping or a swab might be tested to identify the root of the itchiness. A blood test is also performed to check for any underlying issues such as kidney or thyroid disease.