What Causes Itchy Skin?

Itchy skin can be extremely frustrating, especially when you don’t know what’s causing it. Dubbed “pruritus” by the medical community, that uncomfortable sensation that leads to an uncontrollable urge to scratch can be caused by a number of things, from dry skin to infections. Pruritus, or itchy skin, can be felt all over or in a localized area. But no matter where you feel the itch, odds are you’re looking for some relief—and fast.

Common Causes of Itchy Skin

Itchy skin has many causes. Here are a few of the common causes of itchy skin.

1. The Culprit: Dry Skin

Your skin is a delicate organ that can be easily damaged. Environmental factors like harsh sun rays, cold, windy air, or hot, dry indoor heat can strip away your skin’s natural hydrators, leading to dry, itchy skin. Even personal habits like bathing in hot water or exposing yourself to harsh cleaners and chemicals can damage your skin’s protective barrier.

Solution: Exercise Good Skin Care

If your skin is noticeably dry, scaly or flaky, a good daily moisturizer like Curél Dry Skin Therapy Itch Defense Lotion can help restore moisture and soothe your dry, itchy skin fast. With an advanced ceramide complex, vitamin E, and oatmeal extract, this ultra-moisturizing lotion helps repair your skin’s protective barrier and provides long-lasting relief. Now most people are familiar with vitamin E and oatmeal extract but what is an advanced ceramide complex? First, let start with what are ceramides? “Ceramides are naturally present in healthy skin and are the vital building blocks to keeping skin’s moisture barrier functioning properly. When ceramides are lost, your skin becomes dry and damaged,” says Lisa Adams a skincare expert on the Curél brand. Having this knowledge about our skin and the role ceramides play in our skincare we were able to make a complex that heals dry skin at the root cause.

After a shower, try a soothing lotion like Curél Hydra Therapy Itch Defense Moisturizer , which is gentle, fragrance-free, and made with calming, hydrating ingredients like jojoba and olive oils. And avoid long, hot showers and baths.

Also, as frustrating as dry, itchy skin can be, try not to scratch. Not only can scratching actually intensify the itch, but it can also lead to injury, infection, and scarring. Instead, try cold compresses, a soothing lukewarm oatmeal bath, and a good moisturizing cream to calm dry, itchy skin
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2. The Culprit: Allergies

Remove that shiny new bracelet only to find an itchy red rash beneath? You could be allergic to something in it. Known as contact dermatitis, sometimes an itchy rash is your skin’s reaction to an irritant that kicks your immune system into high gear.

Metals, especially nickel, soaps, chemicals, detergents, cosmetics, certain plants like poison ivy, and even pets can all trigger itchy rashes in people who are sensitive to these substances.

Solution: Elimination

If you develop a red, itchy rash after using a new soap, washing your clothes in a different detergent, or wearing a new piece of jewelry, you could be allergic. A safe bet is to avoid the irritant. An over-the-counter hydrocortisone or other over the counter anti-itch creams can help soothe itchiness and heal the rash
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3. The Culprit: Insect Bites and Stings

A bite or sting from a pesky mosquito or bee causes itchy skin flares in many people, particularly if they happen to be allergic. A bug bite or sting will often leave an obvious mark on your skin in the form of a large, raised bump or a noticeable bite mark surrounded by a patch of redness.

Solution: Antihistamines

Fight the bug bite itch with antihistamine or hydrocortisone creams and an ice pack. For severe itching, you may need an oral antihistamine, like Benadryl, or seek medical attention.

4. The Culprit: Fungal Infections

Fungal infections spread easily and can be extremely itchy and annoying. Athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm are common fungal infections that cause a raised, red, cracked or scaly, intensely itchy rash.

Solution: Anti-Fungal Medication

A fungal infection is extremely contagious and needs to be treated with medication. Mild infections can often be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams, but more stubborn or severe infections may require a visit to the doctor.

5. The Culprit: Illness, Infection, or Disease

Although most causes of itchy skin are relatively mild and easy to identify and treat, in rare cases, pruritis can be due to an underlying medical condition or disease. Everything from nerve disorders and organ failure to thyroid problems and certain cancers can cause itchiness over the entire body and may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, weight loss, fever, and changes in urinary or bowel habits.

Solution: See a Doctor

If you have uncontrollable itching over the entire body that doesn’t have an obvious cause, isn’t soothed by self-care measures, affects your daily life, or is accompanied by other symptoms, see a doctor right away. A medical professional can help diagnose and treat the cause of the itchiness so you can get relief.


Itchy skin can be frustrating to deal with. But by identifying the cause of the itch, you can take the proper steps to help fight the itch.

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