Does your skin itch from time to time over your whole body, or in certain areas, like your arms or legs? Rashes can occur without any visible changes, but more often than not it is associated with redness, bumps or dry skin. While it can usually be treated with either a moisturizer or an anti-itch cream, sometimes it can last a long time and be intense. If you scratch the affected area, the itchiness tends to get worse, and you may even cause damage to your skin or an infection.
Causes of Rashes
Possible causes of itchy skin include:
- Dry skin: If your skin doesn’t have red bumps or any other change in the area, the culprit is likely dry skin. Dry skin can result from a number of different factors such as old age, the environment or even washing and bathing too much.
- Skin conditions and rashes: Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, lice, chickenpox and hives need to be properly diagnosed by a physician or dermatologist and are usually treated with prescribed medications and ointments.
- Internal diseases: Itchy skin can affect the whole body and be a symptom of underlying illnesses, such as liver disease, kidney failure, thyroid problems and even cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
There are a number of lifestyle and home remedies you can follow for temporary relief:
- Avoid items or situations that make you itch. Try to pay attention to what causes your symptoms so you can avoid it. This could be anything from rough clothing, to very hot showers, or even things you may be allergic to, such as pets or perfumed soap.
- Use a high-quality moisturizing cream on your skin at least once a day. Drug store brands such as Cetaphil and CeraVe work great.
- Apply an anti-itch cream. Short-term use of nonprescription hydrocortisone cream can temporarily relieve an itch accompanied by red, irritated skin.
- Take a bath. Use lukewarm bath water and sprinkle in baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal. When you are finished, rinse your body off and apply moisturizer.
- Keep your allergies in check. If you can’t avoid your allergens, drugs such as Benadryl, Zyrtec or Claritin can help you avoid feeling itchy throughout the day.
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor or dermatologist if the itching:
- Lasts for more than two weeks and doesn’t improve with self-care treatments
- Is so severe it interferes with your daily activities or keeps you up at night
- Comes on suddenly for no apparent reason
- Affects your whole body
- Is accompanied by other symptoms such as feeling tired, weight loss, changes in bathroom habits, fever or visible changes in the skin
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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