Itchy skin is something we have likely all experienced at one time of the year, yet the cause can sometimes be a mystery if you are not accused of it occurring. While sometime it is caused from a skin condition and genetics, environmental factors can also be at play. Here, we look into the causes of itchy skin, how it can be soothed and how you can care for your epidermis all year round.
What is itchy skin?
A self-explanatory term, itchy skin is a common irritation of the epidermis making you want to scratch the area. This can occur anywhere on the body and can be irritating to live with, and frustrating to control throughout the day. Some itching can occur on a small part of the body, like after a bug bite, or can encompass the entire body, like when having an allergic reaction. While itchy skin can typically be treated with moisturizer, there are some cases when it is triggered through a medical condition.
What causes itchy skin?
There are four common causes of itchy skin, including:
Dry Skin: Skin which is excessively dry can become itchier as the weather changes from hot or cold temperatures. It is identifiable through a flaky appearance, can feel rough to touch however is typically not red in colouring. Dry skin is prone to cracking, which can also lead to itchiness.
Insect Bites: Insect bites can cause itchiness in the skin located around the site of the bite. They will usually be a bump or blister-like shape and may appear inflamed and swollen.
Eczema: A skin condition, eczema is known for aggravating skin and causing itchiness. Eczema is commonly found in elbow creases, at the backs of the knees and can also appear in eyebrows, known in this instance as seborrheic dermatitis. Eczema is traditionally a hereditary condition and is diagnosed in childhood, but can develop into adulthood.
Skincare: If you have recently employed a new product in your skincare routine and have noticed a change to the stabilization of your skin, you may be causing the itchiness yourself. It is always best to patch test a product prior to employing it as a regular item in your routine to see if any irritation occurs.
Can I prevent itchy skin?
If your itchy skin in caused by triggers other than eczema, there are some simple fixes that can help to prevent the irritation.
Liberally applying a moisturizer after showering or bathing, while skin is still a touch damp, is a key way to lock in moisture after its exposure to hot temperatures. While showering, ensure time spent in water is kept to a minimum and the water isn’t scalding – if your skin is red when you step out, its probably been too hot.
Ensuring you are adequately hydrated throughout the day can also keep skin supple and less prone to drying out, alongside employing a humidifier when the weather is excessively dry or if you live in a dry climate.
Those with eczema – or suspecting their dry skin is more than a seasonal irritation – should speak with their GP or health professional for potential treatment options and clinical advice.
How can I soothe itchy skin?
If your skin is already itchy and thus beyond a preventative stage, you may me looking for means to soothe the impacted area. Some helpful solutions include:
- Attempt to not scratch the area as this will make the itching worse.
- Avoiding foaming or gel body lotions as they can cause the itching to worsen
- Wear loose cotton clothing to prevent overheating, and avoid scratchy fabrics which may irritate the skin
- Keeping nail length short to avoid breaking the skin if you do scratch the area
- After bathing, pat yourself dry rather than rigorously rubbing your skin
As a writer who herself has suffered with eczema since childhood and still has very regular flare ups, the struggle with finding product that is readily available and won’t cause itchiness is real. However, the selection below have proven to be invaluable and highly recommended for those with itchy skin. Remember the golden rule: Patch test before applying all over your body!