Excessive itching (Pruritus)

What is excessive itching?
excessive Itching

Excessive itching or pruritus is an irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch your skin. Sometimes itching can feel like pain, but it is different. Often, you feel itchy in one area of your body, but sometimes you may feel itching all over.

Certain cancers such as malignant melanoma, leukemia and lymphoma, commonly cause itching.

How bad is my excessive itching or pruritus?

Mild: Mild or localized; topical intervention indicated.

Moderate: Widespread and intermittent; skin changes from scratching (e.g., edema, population, excoriations, lichenification, oozing/crusts); oral intervention indicated; limiting instrumental activities of daily life.

Severe: Widespread and constant; limiting self-care activities of daily life or sleep; systemic corticosteroid or immunosuppressive therapy indicated.

How to manage mild itching skin?
  • If you know what is causing your itchy skin, you may be able to prevent it. For example, if it is caused by allergies, you will need to take your allergy medicine regularly. You may need to avoid the outdoors or other things that trigger your allergies.
  • If it is due to diabetes, it may indicate you are not controlling your blood sugar levels. This means you will need to follow your doctor’s directions for taking medicine, exercising, and eating healthy.
  • If it is caused by pregnancy, it will likely clear up once the baby is born.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antihistamines.
  • Avoid scratching, wearing irritating fabrics, and exposure to high heat and humidity.
How to manage moderate and severe itching?

See your doctor or a skin disease specialist if the itching lasts more than two weeks and doesn’t improve with self-care measures. Is severe and distracts you from your daily routines or prevents you from sleeping. Comes on suddenly and can’t be easily explained.

What causes excessive itching?

It is a symptom of many health conditions. Some common causes are

  • Allergic reactions to food, insect bites, pollen, and medicines
  • Certain cancers or cancer treatments
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin
  • Irritating chemicals, cosmetics, and other substances
  • Parasites such as pinworms, scabies, head and body lice
  • Pregnancy
  • Liver, kidney, or thyroid diseases
  • Diseases that can affect the nervous system, such as diabetes and shingles

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