Itching is an uncomfortable feeling on your skin that makes you want to scratch.
Itching can be caused by many different skin problems
Itching can also be caused by an allergic reaction or a disorder that affects your whole body
You may itch in only one spot or all over depending on the cause
Scratching can make itching worse and damage your skin
Bathing less often, using lotions or creams, and using a humidifier at home or work may help you itch less
Other treatments depend on the cause
Itching is usually caused by skin problems, such as:
Dry skin, especially in older people
Rashes, such as eczema, sometimes called atopic dermatitis
Allergic reaction to things that touch the skin, such as poison ivy
Skin infections caused by a fungus or parasite
Sometimes, itching is caused by problems inside your body, such as:
See a doctor right away if you have itching and any of these warning signs:
Call an ambulance or go to the emergency room right away if you have trouble breathing or feel faint. That could mean you're having a serious allergic reaction.
See a doctor in a week or so if you have:
Doctors will ask about your symptoms and look at your skin. Most of the time, doctors can tell what's causing your itching without doing tests.
Sometimes doctors may do tests such as:
Doctors treat the problem that causes you to itch. Doctors may also tell you to:
Antihistamine pills can make you sleepy, particularly if you're older. Be careful about using them if you have to drive or use power tools. On the other hand, antihistamines may help you sleep at night.
You can buy some creams for itching without a prescription. But talk to your doctor before you use them. Corticosteroid creams, such as hydrocortisone, can help some kinds of itching but are bad for others (for example, itching caused by a skin infection). Antihistamine creams and skin-numbing creams that contain benzocaine sometimes cause a skin reaction, so doctors usually don't want you to use those.