Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. Dry, itchy skin is also known as pruritus, and it is often caused by the impact of the weather on your skin and also as we age.
If your itchiness comes with other signs and symptoms such as tiredness, weight loss, change in bowel habit or urinary frequency, fever or redness of the skin, there may be a medical cause that requires investigating.
When dry air is present, it tends to suck the skin’s moisture. Therefore, it is essential to wear gloves during the cold, dry weather season. Air conditioning and central heating can also have the same impact on the skin. Also wear a thick moisturiser in the winter.
– Exposure to water
Long periods in water, especially hot water, can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dry skin.
– Exposure to chemicals
Certain professions require excessive exposure to chemicals in water; this can lead to dry skin. We see this frequently experienced by those who must wash their hands often, like nurses. Swimmers can also get dry skin from the chlorine.
– Medical conditions
There are certain medical conditions like diabetes or eczema that can cause dry skin. Therefore, a patient’s medical history must be taken into consideration for an effective treatment plan.
Dry skin is more common in older adults as their skin will develop cracks between the cells with age, which can let moisture out. Wonen may also suffer from dry skin due to hormonal changes.
Depending on the cause of dry, itchy skin, the skin may appear relatively normal. It can have slight bumps, and then repeated scratching can cause raised, thickened areas of skin that can even bleed or become infected, or it can be red and rough, or it can have blisters.
Very simple self-care measures include moisturising the skin well, using gentle over-the-counter anti-itch products and taking cool baths, which can help relieve dry, itchy skin. Some people put bicarbonate of soda or oatmeal in the bath to help relieve the skin. However, long-term relief of itchy dry skin requires identifying and treating the cause.
Furthermore, it is advised that you should wear loose attire and only use dermatological soap when bathing and washing hands.
You should see your doctor or a skin specialist dermatologist such as Dr Jennifer Crawley at ClinicaLondon if the itchiness has lasted more than two weeks and has not improved with your self-care measures. You should also see a dermatologist if the itchiness distracts from your daily routine or prevents you from sleeping.
Many people feel their skin itch a lot more when they are asleep. In particular, you must see a dermatologist if the itching comes on suddenly and impacts your quality of sleep. You should also see a dermatologist if it is beginning to affect your whole body, as this may be more of a serious condition.
Eczema and other rashes
Eczema (dermatitis), psoriasis, scabies, lice, chicken pox and hives all cause itchy skin. In these situations, the itching usually affects specific areas, and the redness and bumps or blisters give specific signs in their distribution and appearance.
Irritation and allergic reactions
Many people are allergic to wool and get eczema from it or just a plain allergy with redness and itching. Furthermore, chemicals, soaps and other substances can irritate the skin and can cause itching. Cosmetics can cause an allergic reaction, and food allergies can also cause the skin to itch. Other areas where itching could be due to systemic internal disease, nerve disorders, drugs and pregnancy.
To ensure your safety and the safety of the staff, all staff are tested for COVID-19 regularly, are fully vaccinated and wear masks.
We continue to offer video consultations.