Teach Me

The Reason Why You’re So Itchy Right Now

You know when you’ve been bitten by a pesky mosquito, but sometimes an itch can’t be explained. Is it your allergies? Pets? Clothing? We spoke with Liz Cirbo, a family medicine nurse practitioner at Banner Health Clinic in Windsor, to learn some of the unexpected reasons you might feel itchy and what you can do to feel better.

Everything from changes in your body to changes in the weather can cause your skin to be irritated and uncomfortable. On top of that, your skin might also be feeling your age.

“Living in a dry climate predisposes us to itchier skin,” Cirbo explained. “But, as we age, skin thins, and our natural oil production lessens, which also leads to drier skin.”

Try asking yourself these questions to help get to the bottom of your irritation.

Are You Taking a New Medication?

Dozens of medications, including many used to treat acne, can potentially cause your skin to be more sensitive to light. If you’ve been prescribed one of these, it’s especially important for you to protect your skin from the sun to avoid experiencing a painful rash.

Did you recently change up your prescriptions? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids such as morphine and codeine can cause intense itching.

Reactions like these could also mean you are allergic or oversensitive to your new prescription. If you’re feeling itchy now that you’re taking a new medication, it’s best to talk with your provider about the side effects and what can be done to make you feel better.

Could It Be a Skin Condition or Allergy?

For many allergies or skin conditions, the itchy feeling will be limited to certain areas, and you will likely see bumps, blisters, hives or a rash. Over-the-counter remedies might bring some relief, but you should consult your primary care physician or dermatologist to make sure your treatment is as customized as possible to your specific allergy.

Some substances, like poison ivy, wool, or cosmetics, can irritate skin and trigger an allergic reaction. Other conditions like eczema or psoriasis can cause dry, scaly patches on your skin to be extremely itchy.

Is It an Internal Condition?

Are you doing everything, but that itchy feeling just won’t go away? If something is going on internally, you could feel itchy all over—even if your skin looks normal. A variety of conditions like anemia, liver or kidney disease, thyroid problems, or more serious conditions can cause skin to itch without an external cause.

Typically, itchy skin should clear up in just a few weeks.

“If your itchy skin does not resolve with staying well hydrated, using thick creams or removing an allergen,” Cirbo said, “you should see your primary care doctor to be evaluated for other causes of skin itching.”

Contact a Banner Health physician to find a solution for your itch.

Allergy and Immunology Dermatology