Itching is the result of severe skin irritation. It can be extremely painful, irritable and uncomfortable for an individual. There may be myriad causes of itching and all of them may not be of serious consequence.
Itching or pruritus is an irritation of the skin, which urges an individual to scratch the itching part. Scratching results in more itching, and the cycle goes on. There are numerous reasons why itching arises in the first place. Itching can be localized, meaning it limits itself to a single body part. It can also be generalized, wherein whole of the body itches a lot. Excessive scratching of the skin results in inflammation of the skin and may cover it with pus-filled pustules. Itching may be due to some minor cause or it may be a symptom of some major disorder. There are many causes of severe itching and all of them need not be an indication of skin disorder.
Causes of Itching
As mentioned above, itching may result from an entirely harmless condition or it may be a symptom of something as serious as liver or kidney disease.
Out of the many causes of body itching, dry skin is the one that is mostly found in old people or those staying in dry, cold regions. The dryness in the skin causes it to flake and induces the feeling to scratch more and more. Although, this is a generalized form of itching, it affects the region around the elbows, forearms and lower legs, the most. Moisturizing your skin regularly may help you.
Psychological conditions such as stress and anxiety also contribute to causes of constant itching. Psychological conditions have a tendency to aggravate itching, which may result due to other causes. Itching resulting out of psychological disorders, often makes a person irritable. Itching can only be relieved when the underlying psychological condition gets addressed.
Prolonged exposure to sun also leads to itching of the skin. Many people have reported that they feel an excessive urge to scratch their bodies after sun bathing. UV radiations deplete the amount of melanin from the skin and thereby make it irritable and itchy. Using a good quality sunscreen with an SPF over 20 may help.
Skin is the first to respond to any kind of allergy, even in human beings. Food allergies, allergies to medicines, cosmetics etc., are identified by excessive itching accompanied by a rash on the skin. Even allergies to certain insects produce an itching effect on the skin.
The onset of jaundice is often marked by irritation of skin. Jaundice from the backup of bile, often causes the skin to itch and turns it yellow. It begins from the head and then moves downwards and spreads throughout the body.
Leukemia and kidney diseases are the causes of chronic itching. Similarly, hyperthyroidism and some forms of cancer such as lymphoma also contribute to itching. Polycythemia vera is a blood disease which has itching as one of its symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) lead to itching of the skin, particularly in the genital region. Yeast infections are a common cause of itching in this region. However, it may spread to the rest of the body as well.
Insect infestations are a common cause of itching. Lice infestation in hair or pubic region can lead to severe itching in the respective areas. Similarly, other insects such as bugs, ants etc., also lead to itching, when they come in contact with the skin.
Although, the above causes are less likely to have serious implications in most of the cases, it is better to consult a dermatologist, if you have a particularly nasty form of itching. Severe scratching may lead to scars on the skin and result in its permanent damage.