Itching is universal. There is no individual who does not have an itch at some point in their life. The majority of cases of itching resolve without any active treatment. Only in the few cases does itch continue.
Even though itching is a simple symptom, it can have 100s of causes. Itching may be localized to one part of the body or may be a systemic feature.
Itching may be due to a simple skin disorder or may be a manifestation of an internal medical illness
Any itch on the skin may be just an isolated sensation or may be accompanied by:
- altered texture of the skin- usually rough
- scratch marks
- scaly skin
The only way to relieve itch is to find the cause. In the majority of cases, when the cause is removed, the itch disappears. When the itch persists, medical therapy may be required
Sometimes itchy skin lasts a long time and becomes very intense. As you scratch the area, it gets itchier. Sometimes this cycle of itchy skin and scratching can be difficult to break without therapy.
The causes of dry skin are numerous. The majority are related to the environment and include exposure to:
- hot or cold environments
- exposure to plants
- low humidity
- excessive use of Air Conditioning
- too much bathing
- drugs, chemicals, soaps, detergents
Systemic medical disorders that may cause itchy skin include:
- renal failure
- liver failure
- lice or scabies infection
- chicken pox
- some cancers like leukemia and lymphoma
When the itch is transient and disappears, there is no need to worry about it. However, if the itch continues to worsen and does not respond to conservative care, then medical advice should be sought.
Other reasons for seeking physician advice for an itch include:
- inability to sleep because of the itch
- the skin is red, indurated and appears infected
- affects the entire body
- is associated with other features like weight loss, decrease appetite, fever, etc