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Managing Itching & Itchy Skin (Pruritus): Causes, Treatment, and Home Remedies



What is itching?

Itching, also known as pruritus, is an unpleasant sensation that prompts the desire to scratch. It can affect the skin or mucous membranes and is often a symptom of an underlying issue rather than a condition itself. Itching can vary in intensity and duration, ranging from mild and temporary to chronic and debilitating.

What are the most common causes of itching?

Itching can stem from a multitude of factors, with some of the most common causes of itchy skin including skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

  • Allergic reactions to substances such as chemicals, plants, or certain foods can also cause itching. Insect bites, dry skin, and excessive sweating are frequent triggers.
  • Additionally, systemic conditions like liver or kidney diseases, thyroid disorders, and diabetes may manifest with itching as a symptom.
  • Psychological factors like stress and anxiety can exacerbate itching sensations.

Can stress worsen itching symptoms?

Yes, stress can exacerbate itching symptoms. Psychological factors like stress and anxiety can trigger or intensify itching sensations through complex physiological pathways. Stress prompts the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that can stimulate nerve endings in the skin, leading to heightened itch perception.

Moreover, stress weakens the body's immune system, making individuals more susceptible to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, which are often accompanied by itching.

What are the types of itching?

There are various itching types characterised by their location, duration, and underlying causes. Itching, or pruritus, manifests in various forms depending on its underlying causes and characteristics:

  1. Localised Itching: This type affects specific areas of the body and is often attributed to external factors such as insect bites, contact with irritants, or localised skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis.
  2. Generalised Itching: Generalised itching involves the entire body and can be a symptom of systemic conditions such as liver disease, kidney failure, or certain infections like scabies or chickenpox.
  3. Neuropathic Itching: Neuropathic itching arises from dysfunction or damage to the nervous system, leading to abnormal signaling of itch sensations. It can occur with conditions like neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries.
  4. Psychogenic Itching: Psychogenic itching is driven by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders, without any identifiable physical cause.

Home remedies for itchy skin

Several home remedies for itchy skin can give you relief without the need for medication.

  • Aloe vera gel or calamine lotion can be applied topically to soothe itching and reduce inflammation.
  • Taking a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda can alleviate itching and provide relief.
  • Incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or flaxseeds, into your diet can help reduce inflammation from within.
  • Regularly moisturise your skin to prevent dryness, which can exacerbate itching.
  • Avoid scratching, as it can further irritate the skin and worsen itching.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics can help prevent further irritation and promote healing of itchy skin.

However, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional if itching persists or worsens despite home remedies.

What are the treatments for itching?

The itchy skin treatment depends on the severity and causes of itchy skin:

  • Prescription medications such as oral corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, or antifungal agents may be necessary for more severe cases or underlying medical conditions.
  • Phototherapy, involving exposure to specific wavelengths of light, can be effective for certain skin conditions causing itching.
  • Addressing systemic issues contributing to itching, such as liver or kidney diseases, through appropriate medical management is essential for long-term relief.

What tests diagnose itching?

Various tests diagnose the underlying cause of itching including:

  • Skin biopsy: Involves removing a small sample of skin for examination under a microscope to identify any abnormalities or underlying skin conditions.
  • Blood tests: Measure levels of certain substances in the blood, such as liver enzymes, thyroid hormones, or specific antibodies, to detect systemic conditions contributing to itching.
  • Allergy testing: Helps identify allergens triggering allergic reactions and itching.
  • Imaging tests: Such as ultrasound or MRI, may be used to evaluate internal organs for abnormalities associated with itching, such as liver or kidney disease.

How do I get rid of itching?

To get rid of itching, follow the below tips:

  • Apply cold compresses or ice packs to numb the skin and reduce inflammation.
  • Keep your living environment clean and free of allergens, such as dust mites or pet dander, which can trigger itching in sensitive individuals.
  • Consider over-the-counter antihistamines to counter allergic reactions causing itching.
  • Topical corticosteroids can target inflammation and provide relief from itching.

How can I prevent itching in the future?

To prevent itching in the future:

  • Moisturise regularly to keep the skin hydrated.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free skincare products.
  • Avoid hot showers and harsh soaps.
  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and stress management techniques.

What can I expect if I have itchy skin?

If you have itchy skin, you can expect sensations of discomfort, irritation, and an urge to scratch. Itching may vary in intensity and duration, depending on the underlying cause, and can sometimes be accompanied by visible skin changes or lesions.

When should I see a doctor for itching?

You should see a doctor for itching if it persists for more than a few weeks, is severe and interferes with daily activities, is accompanied by other symptoms like rash, fever, or fatigue, or if over-the-counter treatments fail to provide relief. Persistent itching may indicate an underlying medical condition needing attention.


In conclusion, itching, though common, can significantly impact one's quality of life, ranging from mild discomfort to severe distress. While home remedies for itchy skin can offer relief for mild cases, persistent or severe itching warrants medical attention to address underlying conditions. Prevention through proper skincare, lifestyle adjustments, and avoidance of triggers is key.

For comprehensive diagnostic tests schedule an appointment with Metropolis Labs today. We provide at-home testing facility, if you are unable to visit our diagnostic labs. Book your test now.

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