Itchy skin is a common ailment. While there are many possibilities that could cause your skin to itch, it's usually not a sign of anything serious. In this article, we will examine the possible causes of itching. Simple itching can be easily treated and usually resolves within a week or two.


If you have an itching that starts within minutes or seconds and spreads rapidly, call 911 emergency services immediately without waiting for it to go away. Allergic reactions can develop and get worse sometimes with itching or even without itching.

Itchy skin is a common ailment. While there are many possibilities that could cause your skin to itch, it’s usually not a sign of anything serious. In this article, we will examine the possible causes of itching. Simple itching can be easily treated and usually resolves within a week or two.

How is itching?

Itching sensation occurs as a result of physical or chemical stimulation of cutaneous nerve receptors located at the junction of the epidermal and dermal layers in our skin and around the hair follicles. This warning may be of subcutaneous tissue or external origin. Mild stimulation of these nerve receptors causes itching, while severe stimulation causes pain. Although itching is mostly due to dermatological reasons, it can sometimes occur as a complication due to an internal disease. Sometimes itching can also occur for psychosomatic reasons.

Itching due to dermatological reasons

Any skin lesion can cause itching on your skin with skin rashes. The diseases that cause itching most frequently due to dermatological reasons are summarized below:

  • Papulosquamous skin diseases
    • Eczema
    • Lichen planus
    • Seborrheic dermatitis
    • Psoriasis
    • Pityriasis rosea
  • Viscobullous diseases
    • Dermatitis herpetiformis
    • Erythema multiforme
  • Allergic reactions
    • Contact dermatitis
    • Systemic drug rashes
    • Urticaria
    • Photoallergy
  • Infestations
    • Being bitten
    • Nematodes
  • Infections
    • Bacterial infections
    • Viral infections
    • Fungal infections
  • Environmental factors
    • Wool, dust, pollen, fiberglass etc.
    • Miliaria
    • Sunburn
  • Some other reasons
    • Purpura simplex
    • Phototoxic reactions
    • Urticaria pigmentosa
    • Ichthyosis
    • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
    • Primary cutaneous amyloidosis
    • Pruritis ani
    • Pruritis vulvae

Itching without rash secondary to diseases

The most common cause of itching without a rash is skin dryness. Less frequently than this, diseases such as lymphoma and mycosis fungoides follow. Dryness of the skin increases as a normal physiological consequence of aging. In general, this dryness may increase in winter and in environments with less humidity. Itching due to dry skin is called dry skin pruritus, senile pruritus, pruritus hiemalis or asteatosis.

The most common causes and diseases of itching without rash are summarized below:

  • Skin dryness
  • Metabolic or endocrine causes
    • Obstructive biliary tract diseases
    • Uremia
    • Thyroid disease
    • Hyperparathyroidism
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Gout
  • Malignancies
    • Lymphoma
    • Carcinoma
    • Carcinoid
  • Parasitosis
    • Hookworm
    • Askaris
  • Drug reactions
    • Opium derivatives
    • Histamine-releasing drugs
  • Various other reasons
    • Polycythemia vera
    • Pregnancy

Psychosomatic itch

Sometimes patients complain of uncontrollable itching in many places on their skin. They may also express that their itching increases with stress and tension. Some patients may not want to accept their own skin lesions. In these cases, patients are considered to have serious neuroses. This condition is called pseudo-dermatitis or neurotic excoriations.

Some psychotic conditions may also be accompanied by itching. Some patients may express that bedbugs or parasites are crawling on their skin, and some of them are inside their skin. This condition is called parasitosis delusion or acarophobia. Self-made lesions and skin ulcers can also be seen in these patients. These patients do not want to accept any explanation or evidence. This type of itching is difficult to treat.

Itching due to neurology or circulatory disorders

Any neurological disease that causes tingling, numbness or hypersensitivity on the skin can cause discomfort perceived by patients as itching. Neurological tests can reveal the cause of itching. However, neurological diseases that can cause itching are very rare.

Disorders in blood circulation can also cause itching in the itchy area by causing symptoms such as edema or vasculitis. Itching often occurs in the lower extremities. Blood circulation disorders are accompanied by symptoms of blood supply disorders.

How is itchy skin treated?

Treatments for the cause of itching also reduce itching. However, sometimes these treatments can take a long time. During treatment, measures to reduce your itching may be required.

Continuing to scratch the itchy area will cause the reaction there to continue to increase, although it will relieve the itching at first, but will cause it to become more severe. In addition, new irritations will occur due to scratching and your skin will become more itchy. For this reason, it is more appropriate to lightly tap or press on the itchy area without scratching it.

Moisturizing your itchy skin will reduce itching. A simple moisturizer or Vaseline may be helpful. You can also moisturize your skin with a damp towel. Taking a cool or warm bath or shower also keeps your skin hydrated. But don’t stay in the bathroom for long. Do not use perfumed or irritating soaps, moisturizers or deodorants.

If you continue to scratch the itchy area involuntarily, at least cut your nails short and smooth.

The itching gets worse with tight, nylon, or some other fabrics. Having loose clothing and cotton will reduce contact and irritation.

Make sure that the cleaning materials you use to wash your laundry will not cause allergies in you. You can use special cleaning materials for sensitive skin.

Consult your doctor if your itching does not improve in any way or if it recurs frequently. Lumps, swellings, abnormal skin shapes, crusting and watering accompanying itching can be signs of an important disease.