Itchy skin is a feeling of tingling or irritation
of the skin that makes a person want to scratch the affected area. Itching may either be localized (in a particular area only) or systemic/ generalized (body-wide). For most people, itching can be simply treated by scratching but this should actually be avoided. Scratching skin may lead to small wounds from skin disruption and even bacterial infection. Itching is also medically known as pruritus.
Causes of itchy skin may range from a simple insect bite to a skin condition or an internal disease. There are hundreds of possible causes, the most common of which will be discussed later. It is necessary to determine the underlying cause in order to give proper treatment.
Causes of Itchy Skin
There is a wide range of possible causes that may result to itchy skin, most of which are not serious and can be managed at home with effective treatment. The following are the most common causes of clammy skin:
- Insect bites and stings
- Allergic reaction
- Parasites such as head lice, body lice, pubic lice and pinworm, among others
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Contact irritants
- Aging skin
- Dry skin
- Skin infections such as impetigo, etc.
- Childhood infections such as chickenpox, measles, etc.
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Certain medications and substances that may produce reactions such as antibiotics, opiates, etc.
- Stress and anxiety
- Other emotional problems
Signs and Symptoms of Itchy Skin
The associated signs and symptoms present will depend on the underlying cause. Some of the possible signs and symptoms may include:
- Blisters and bumps
- Redness and warmth
- Dry, cracked skin
First Aid Treatment for Itchy Skin
Itchy skin may be a source of discomfort, especially if the person will feel the need to scratch every so often. First aid can be applied in itchy skin to ease the itching. Always ask the doctor before doing applying any home remedies to avoid complications. The following tips are generally recommended for cases of itchy skin:
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area. Cut the fingernails short to avoid damage to the skin. It is also sometimes advised to wear gloves while sleeping.
- Take lukewarm baths while minimizing the use of soap. Instead, try using skin-soothing oatmeal or cornstarch bath.
- After bathing, apply a soothing lotion to soften and cool the skin.This is especially highly recommended in the winter months to avoid dry skin.
- Try applying cold compresses to the itchy area.
- One may also opt to take over-the-counter oral antihistamines or applying topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream over the affected areas.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. The information given is very general and should not be used for self-diagnosis of possible conditions. Seek medical attention when necessary. Understanding symptoms that are commonly present in medical situations may help when taking first aid training. To learn more about to how to manage and recognize symptoms, such as itchy skin, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved Training.
Itchy Skin (pruritus).(2011). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://www.healthline.com/health/skin-clammyhttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/itchy-skin/DS00847
Itching.(2012). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003217.htm