Itchy Skin

Nothing drives a person to distraction more than itchy skin! Sometimes the skin looks normal but it is incredibly itchy. Sometimes there is a rash that is itchy. And, quite commonly, scratching causes a rash – usually wheals and whelts like mosquito bites – where you have scratched.

There are only three causes for an itchy skin.

The first is a skin disease, like sunspots or psoriasis or even skin cancer. Your doctor will usually give you the appropriate advice, which may include seeing an allergist or dermatologist (skin specialist). One of the commonest causes for itchy skin is dry skin. Some causes of skin disease causing itch are autoimmune, with the body reacting against its own skin.

The second cause is an internal problem in the body. There are many causes in this area, including upsets in the major organ systems, like the liver and kidneys, among others. Again your doctor will investigate you to sort this out.

Finally, there are causes outside the body, such as foods or food additives or environmental/inhalant allergies. These problems may lead to eczema, or hives (called urticaria). Only some people are susceptible to these problems, therefore there has to be a genetic predisposition or a change in a person’s immune system which allows them to develop these conditions.

There are causes of itch that overlap these three categories, just to confuse the picture. One of these complicated causes of itchy skin is urticaria (or hives). Sometimes, when hives are persistent, your doctor may send you to the allergist to sort out whether there are autoimmune or food triggers, or physical triggers, causing the problem.

Speak to your doctor – you may need assessment. And remember – if you itch and you scratch, then you’ll itch more. But it’s so hard to stop! So see your doctor earlier rather than later.

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