You know when you get a stuffy nose, and you sit and think about all of the times you didn’t have a stuffy nose and how you took it for granted? That’s how we feel when it comes to irritated, inflamed, and itchy skin. A couple of hard-to-reach mosquito bites is all it takes for us to think back fondly on all the times that our skin was calm and cool and comfortable.
What’s more annoying is when your skin itches for what seems like no reason. One day all is well, and the next you’re ceaselessly scratching your arms and legs, trying to pinpoint a culprit to no avail. As it turns out, the sources of skin itchiness are varied, but there are a few that are most prevalent. First off, it’s important to distinguish general itchiness from a rash. “The first question one should ask is whether there is an itch that rashes or a rash that itches,” says dermatologist Adam Friedman. “Many inflammatory skin diseases are itchy, ranging from eczema to hives to lichen planus. Treating the underlying disease is an important part of addressing the itch.” That’s why he recommends always checking in with an expert if itchiness is a chronic issue for you. “I think when you are dealing with itch without a rash, seeing a dermatologist is central to proper care. In many cases, generalized or focal itch may be due to overactive nerve signaling, but it could be associated with something more nefarious. A proper workup is key.”
Beyond that, if it is, in fact, general and occasional itchiness you’re concerned with, and there’s no irritation that’s obvious to the naked eye, know that there a few easy things you can do to prevent and treat that dreaded prickling sensation. Read on to hear all about the most widespread causes of skin itchiness, along with the most effective ways to soothe it, straight from a couple of leading dermatologists.