You probably associate itchy skin with mosquito bites, poison ivy, and chicken pox, but those problems tend to come and go in a few days. If your skin itches constantly for days, weeks, or months at a time, there might be something more chronic going on.
Some causes of chronic itchy skin are pretty benign and can be treated at home, but others may require professional treatment from a doctor or dermatologist. The following reasons might explain why your skin is constantly itchy:
1. You have dry skin.
This is a likely answer, and luckily, it can be treated at home with good skin care, such as:
Moisturizing regularly, especially after skin gets wet
Avoiding long, hot showers
And “dabbing” with towels instead of rubbing.
If improving your skin-care habits doesn’t calm the itch, it may be time to consider other underlying causes.
2. You’re dealing with a skin condition.
There are a number of skin conditions that can lead to itchy skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Two common chronic skin conditions include psoriasis and eczema.
Psoriasis is a condition that causes patches of scaly or thickened skin (called plaques) that tend to itch. Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) causes dry, itchy, sensitive skin with bumps and rashes. You’ll need to see a dermatologist for treatment for eczema or treatment for psoriasis.
3. You have allergies.
When skin is exposed to an allergen, it may turn red and itchy. The most likely culprits are allergies to nickel, fragrances, or latex. Stopping the itch requires ending contact with the allergen. You might need to see an allergist or derm to pinpoint the allergen.
4. You’re taking itch-inducing meds.
Certain medications can cause a side effect of itchy skin. For example, aspirin, opioids, and medications for hypertension are known for causing itchy skin, according to the AAD.
If your meds are causing unpleasantly itchy skin, do *not* discontinue your prescribed medications. Always talk to a doctor if side effects are a bother before changing or stopping medications.
5. You may have a chronic disease.
Sometimes, itchy skin can be a warning sign of an underlying (and unexpected) disease. Surprisingly, itchy skin may signal one of these conditions, according to AAD:
A blood disease, such as lymphoma
A kidney disease
A liver disease, such as hepatitis C
A pancreatic disease
Or skin cancer.
Because itchy skin can be a sign of these chronic and serious illnesses, you should check with a doctor if you don’t find relief with basic skin-moisturizing habits.