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February 25, 2019

What Makes Us Itch?

WHAT MAKES US ITCH?

For the most part, itchy skin -- caused by irritation of the skin cells or the nerves associated with them -- is nothing to worry about and is usually treatable at home. Still, itching is unpleasant, and in rare cases, it can point to a serious health problem, so it helps to know the facts.

CAUSES

Itchiness is mostly caused by dry skin, allergies, or a skin disorder. More rarely, itchiness can result from prescription medications, thyroid dysfunction, or illnesses like diabetes or cancer. Itchy skin also comes with age, unfortunately: older adults' skin retain less moisture, and menopause can cause itching, as well.

AT-HOME REMEDIES

Try taking shorter baths and showers in lukewarm (not hot) water. You'll want to wash your skin with a mild cleanser and use a daily moisturizer. Both should be hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Be careful, though: "unscented" means something different on labels than "fragrance-free," and unscented products might not get the job done.

Whatever you do, don't scratch! Scratching an itch just makes it worse and could lead to infection. Soothe your skin with over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion instead.

SEEING A DERMATOLOGIST

If your itching has lasted for more than two weeks, is all over your body, is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or you're just tired of the discomfort, then it's time to see a doctor. An expert dermatologist like the board-certified clinicians at West Dermatology, can prescribe anti-itch medications and uncover any chronic conditions (like eczema) or underlying health issues (like liver disease), so you get relief for good.

If you're itching for more information on your skin health, just make an appointment with us.

Yours in good health, 
The West Dermatology Team