As we enter the wintertime, on the verge of another bout of winter weather, we would like to focus a bit more on itching of the skin. Itching, after all, is most common in the winter. Itching can be localized to certain areas of the skin, for example in the skin over bug bites. In uncommon cases, it can be widespread, affecting all the skin. The best dermatologists know that the number one cause of widespread itching without a rash is dry skin. In most cases of widespread itching all over due to dryness, you may have little or no rash.
Itching Without Rash
Our first and foremost recommendation for any individual who experiences the gradual onset of itch all over is to make sure they take aggressive steps to treat themselves for dry skin. Please refer to our previously published blog here for more information on this.
However, if following those tips does not eliminate your problem within 2 to 4 weeks, several other possible causes for the itching need to be considered. Also, a medical evaluation with a dermatology provider is recommended. Several different underlying triggers may lead up to widespread itching, though all are less common symptoms than dryness as the prime cause.
Other Factors Causing Itching
One of the most common categories of medications to cause itching are opiate-narcotic pain-relieving medications. Examples include Oxycodone, Demerol, and Morphine. Numerous other medications may also have side effects that cause itching in the skin for various reasons.
Scabies is one of the more common skin infections that can cause itching. In some cases, a rash is present, though this rash is often quite minimal and difficult to identify. We are particularly predisposed to having itching in the web spaces between our fingers and toes, the private area, and virtually anywhere else on the skin—though it generally spares the head and neck region.
Alternative skin conditions
Eczema, psoriasis, and numerous other skin conditions may cause the skin to feel itchy. Usually, a rash or other changes are visible on the surface of the skin. In some cases, the rash may be difficult to identify. This is especially true when it comes to eczema, otherwise known as atopic dermatitis. Some individuals with this condition will have such sensitive skin that they have itching in the absence of any rash.
Itching due to nerve dysfunction
Conditions that affect the nervous system — such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, pinched nerves, and shingles (herpes zoster) — can cause itching. This is a type of neuropathy. We commonly see this problem on the midback, forearms, and feet. The itch may be very difficult to control.
Itching due to an internal medical condition
This may include advanced liver or kidney disease. Thyroid disease can also contribute to this. Underlying health conditions being a concern, in the vast majority (99% plus) of the patient’s that we see with an itch, there is no underlying medical condition that is directly contributing.
Itchy Skin Treatment
Many different treatments are available to help with the discomfort relating to widespread itching. Our recent blog “Skin Itching & Scratching” has a great deal of information and tips on how you can work to improve your condition.
If not improving within a few weeks, as we said, in-office dermatology evaluation is advised. If we may be of any further assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
At Advanced Dermatology the Midlands we offer consultative services for all problems related to hair, including unwanted hair and hair loss (alopecia). Many different treatments are available, and we love providing our patients with guidance regarding the best options for them. We hope you and your family remain safe throughout the holiday season. Contact us to schedule a consultation if you have any interest in pursuing treatment for unwanted hair.