Home | Adult Dermatology | Itch (Pruritus)

What is Itch?

Itchy skin is an irritating and bothersome sensation that causes you to want to scratch. This can be caused or worsened by dry skin. It is common in older adults, as the skin tends to become drier as we age. Sometimes itchiness can last a while, can be intense, and impact the quality of life measures. If you chronically rub or scratch the area, it may further worsen the problem.

Common symptoms of itchy skin include:

  • Redness.
  • Bumps or blisters.
  • Leathery or scaly skin.
  • Dry, cracked skin.
  • Lack of sleep

There are many different causes of itchy skin, which may include:

  • Skin conditions: Including dry skin, eczema, scabies, burns, psoriasis, scars, hives, insect bites, and more.
  • Irritation and allergic reactions: Chemicals, soaps, wool, cosmetics, and certain drugs, among others, can all lead to irritation of the skin or allergic reactions.
  • Nerve disorders: Certain conditions that affect the nervous system such as degenerative spine disease, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis may cause itching.
  • Internal diseases: In some cases, itchy skin can be a symptom of any serious underlying disease including malignancies, liver disease, kidney disease, blood disease, or serious infections.

Who is a Good Candidate for Itch Treatment?

Individuals with itchy skin that does not seem to go away should see a dermatologist to be evaluated. During your consultation with one of our dermatologists, we will examine your skin, and you will be able to discuss your symptoms. The provider will create a treatment plan to help control or eliminate your itch.

What to Expect During Itch Treatment?

In order to determine the cause for your itchy skin, a physical exam as well as blood tests evaluating your blood count, liver, thyroid, and kidney function, and chest X-rays may be performed. Treatment options focus on finding the cause of the itch and removing it. If at-home remedies do not ease itchy skin, treatment options may include:

  • Corticosteroid Creams: To treat red and itchy skin, a medicated cream or ointment may be prescribed.
  • Other Creams and ointments: Other creams and ointments such as calcineurin inhibitors or topical anesthetics may help to relieve symptoms.
  • Oral medications: Antihistamines (levocetirizine, fexofenadine, hydroxyzine, doxepin, etc) gabapentin, and antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Zoloft or Prozac) may help to ease chronic itch.
  • Phototherapy: This involves exposing the affected skin to a specific type of light. Multiple sessions are usually needed to get itching under control.

Following Itch Treatment

Following itch treatment, patients should see an improvement in their symptoms. In most cases, the itch will go away after some time. Your dermatologist will provide you with tips on how to keep your itch at bay.

Some quick tips for temporary, at home itch relief, include avoiding items or situations that cause you to itch, use creams, lotions, or gels that soothe the skin, moisturize daily, avoid scratching, reduce your stress, use a humidifier, and try over-the-counter-allergy medications.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are bothered by itchy skin, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Our dermatology specialists are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating all forms of skin issues for a healthy and happy you!

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