Do you have an itch that you just can’t seem to scratch? Irritated and itchy skin makes it hard to focus, and let’s be honest, it’s just extremely uncomfortable to deal with. Often times you can pinpoint the problem like mosquito bites, poison ivy, or dry skin. But there are several other things that could leave you with an uncomfortable itch that won’t stop.

The first step to relieving your itch is finding out what the cause is behind it. In some cases, this may be as simple as switching your laundry detergent, using a milder soap, or just waiting for your bug bites to get better. But this annoying itch could also be a symptom of something more serious.

Keep reading to find out what are some of the most common causes behind an irritated skin.


What Causes Itchy Skin and How to Soothe it

Skin itchiness isn’t predictable at all. It can affect small areas like your arms or scalp, or it can leave you scratching your entire body. What makes itchy skin even more mysterious is that it can also take on many different forms. This irritated skin can appear as dryness, redness, scaly patches, bumps, rashes, scratch marks, or cracked skin.

How do you know what’s causing your itch, and how can you stop it? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to help find out what’s itching you:


1. Is Your Skin Dry?

During the winter months, and in places where the air is dry, it is common for people to suffer from drier skin. And unfortunately, dry skin becomes even more common as we age. If you notice your skin is dry, there are many itchy skin treatments out there that can bring you some much-needed relief:

dry skin

  1. Moisturize often

If you have extremely dry skin, then it’s important to keep it moisturized. Your dermatologist can recommend a moisturizer for you or prescribe one that would be best for your skin type. Keep in mind, it is best if you apply your moisturizer within five minutes after getting out of the bath or shower.

  1. Use a humidifier

You can increase the humidity level in your home with a humidifier. There are also portable humidifiers that you can use at work or in your bedroom to provide your skin extra moisture no matter where you are.

  1. Use a gentle cleanser

Dry skin is damaged skin, so you’ll want to make sure you stay away from harsh cleansers that could irritate the skin even more. Make sure when you’re shopping for a cleanser that you look for one that is fragrance-free. 

  1. Don’t take long hot showers

As good as a hot shower feels, it’s not good at all for your skin. That’s because the hot water strips the skin of moisture, which can make your dry skin even worse. If you use warm or hot water when you shower, make sure you limit them to just five minutes.

  1. Protect your skin during all seasons

In the winter, make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands. In the summer, make sure to protect your skin with a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and pants. It’s also best to use a fragrance-free sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.


2. Do You Have a Rash?

When you started scratching, does it look like a rash is appearing? There are several different skin conditions that can be behind this.

  • Fungal and bacterial infections like impetigo and folliculitis.
  • Scaly dry patches of skin can be caused by eczema or atopic dermatitis.
  • Food allergies can cause rashes, especially in children or someone that has a family history of allergies.
  • Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash that comes on when your skin touches something it is sensitive to, like jewelry, a cleaning product, or a chemical.
  • Poison ivy is a form of contact dermatitis that causes an itchy rash.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease is an irritating rash that appears on the hands, on the feet, or on both areas at the same time. This condition can also cause mouth sores. It appears in kids younger than 5-years-old.
  • Hives are welts on the skin can appear in all different shapes and sizes. The tricky thing about hives is they can literally appear just about anywhere.

In order to get relief from your itching rash, you need to know what condition you have so you can get something to cure it. A board-certified dermatologist can diagnose your rash and recommend skin care products for your itchy skin treatment.


3. Do You Have a Bug Bite?

When you’re bitten by a mosquito, you usually know it. Most often, you can tell what a mosquito bite looks like, and you know that it’s not an itch that you’ll have to scratch for very long. However, there are some bug bites that aren’t as recognizable and can cause itching that just doesn’t seem to go away.

Here are some bites that could be bugging you:

  • Bed bugs can often look like a rash. They are raised bumps that are often clustered or can leave straight rows of bites.
  • Head lice cause a crawling and itching sensation in your scalp and sometimes in the pubic hair.
  • Scabies are so small, they can’t be seen on the skin. These mites burrow into the top layer of the skin to feed, which causes a rash with an extreme itch.

Some over-the-counter medications and shampoos can treat bug bites. However, if you’re unsure what is going on with your skin, a dermatologist can fully diagnose and treat the condition.

bug bite


4. Is It Your Nerves?

Your nervous system can play tricks on your body and make your skin start itching when there’s actually nothing that’s causing it to itch.

This can happen if you have problems with:

  • Shingles
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Nerve damage
  • Pinched nerves


5. Is It Your Medication?

This is another condition where your body and your mind can play tricks on you. Certain medications can make you start scratching even if there isn’t a rash or irritation present. Here are some medications that have been blamed for itchy skin:

  • ACE inhibitors that are used for high blood pressure
  • Allopurinol for gout
  • Amiodarone that is used for heart rhythm issues
  • Diuretics that are used for bloating
  • Estrogen
  • Opioids
  • Simvastatin that is used for high cholesterol
  • Hydroxyethyl cellulose
  • Some over the counter medications have also been known to have itchy side effects on some people, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium

Of course, make sure to check with your doctor if the itch becomes too uncomfortable.



Itching for Answers?

At Winston Salem Dermatology, we take itching seriously. We know that it can impact your quality of life. Constant itching can interrupt your sleep, make it difficult for you to concentrate at work, and it can cause embarrassment, especially if you scratch so much that it starts to bleed. If you’re itching for answers, we are ready to scratch them out for you! We offer the best dermatology services in the Triad. Let us diagnose your itchy skin and come up with a treatment plan, cosmetic skincare routine, or cosmetic skin enhancement treatment that will solve your problem. What are you waiting for? Give us a call at (336) 774-8636 and stop itching today!