What is Itching?
Itching is an unpleasant and sometimes painful sensation that makes you want to scratch all the time. Skin itching is called pruritus. These can be localized or extended to much or all of the body. Most often, the skin displays redness, a rough look, small pimples, bumps, or blisters, which trigger itching. However, itching can also occur on healthy skin for no apparent reason.
Itching can be the simple fact of dry skin, but can also be one of the symptoms of more serious diseases. For more information, the doctor will conduct an interview and an in-depth examination to determine the causes of itching. He may also prescribe additional tests to refine his diagnosis : blood tests, allergy tests or skin samples.
What causes itching?
Itching can be caused by many diseases. For this reason, do not hesitate to consult a doctor, especially if the itching is intense, persistent or extensive.
Potential causes of itching include: :
- skin rashes, such as eczema, psoriasis, varicella, urticaria or those caused by scabies. These itching are localized and are accompanied by redness, small pimples or blisters.
- bites from mosquitoes, lice, jellyfish, or plants (such as nettles) are often very irritating.
- dry skin is the result of environmental factors such as cold and dry weather, the use of central heating or air conditioning, or a large number of showers or baths. The skin may, in this case, show signs of cracking.
- internal diseases, such as liver disease, kidney failure, biliary retention, hematological diseases, thyroid problems or lymphoma. Itching then usually affects the whole body. In these cases, the skin shows no signs of redness, blisters or pimples.
- allergic reactions to drugs, chemicals, cosmetics applied to the skin, or certain foods. Itching is most often localized but can be generalized in case of a reaction to a drug.
- pregnancy: pregnant women may experience itching in the breasts, thighs, arms and abdomen, often due to stretching of the skin.
- diseases affecting the nervous system: multiple sclerosis or herpes zoster can cause pruritus sensations
What are the solutions to relieve itching ?
When the skin is itchy, the first reflex is to scratch. But beyond providing relief for a limited time, scratching can worsen itching and lead to a risk of infection. The more a person scratches, the more likely they are to bare their skin and expose it to germs. It is advisable to use suitable treatments, or at least to relieve yourself with the palm of the hand (not with the nails).
Itching and associated physical consequences (redness, pimples, blisters, etc.) can also be embarrassing and have a psychological impact on the person affected. A persistent pruritus can be profoundly disabling.
What can I do to relieve itching?
- Since itching is a sign of many diseases, do not hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice, especially if it is intense, widespread or persistent.
- If you are allergic, avoid, if possible, the responsible substance (food, cosmetics, drugs).
- If your skin is dry, do not take long baths or showers too often, especially when using soap. Apply moisturizer to your entire body on a daily basis, focusing on itchy areas of the skin : face, legs, hands, feet, etc.
- Avoid scratching, especially if the pruritus is accompanied by pimples. You might have some scars. In addition, scratching prolongs and aggravates the local reaction.
- If the urge to scratch is overwhelming, rub the itchy part with the palm of your hand. This has the same effect as scratching but does not damage the skin or itch.
- Limit the use of scented products for skin care.
- Cut your nails short and file them to prevent your nails from causing scratching lesions.
What does the doctor do to relieve the pruritus?
He’s trying to determine the cause of the itching. In addition to an interview and an in-depth examination, he may have additional tests carried out, such as blood tests, skin sampling or allergy tests. Treatment depends on the cause.
To calm a severe itch, the doctor may also prescribe medication to relieve symptoms regardless of their cause.
How to prevent itching?
If you have a predisposition to itching, try to protect yourself from pruritus and dry skin by moisturizing your skin. In the pharmacy and parapharmacie there are many milk, cream and ointments for the daily care of dry skins. Avoid, for example, scented and over-detergent bath and Shower products.