Skin naturally gets itchy from time to time, and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. Very severe or chronic itching can be problematic, however, since excessive scratching can damage and break the skin, increasing the risk of infections. There’s also a possibility that chronic itching is caused by an underlying medical issue that needs to be treated. If your itching is severe and relentless, see a dermatologist sooner, rather than later. If your skin itches persistently for a week or longer, it’s also time to call a dermatology office, even if the itching isn’t severe.
What Might Cause Chronic Itching
In some cases, itching may indicate an allergic reaction. Consider whether you’ve just started taking a new medication, or whether you’ve been exposed to any known allergens. You may need to call the prescribing doctor if a drug allergy is suspected. Other possible causes of severe and chronic itching include:
- Dry skin.
Dermatologists may also consider whether you need to be referred to an internal medicine doctor. It’s possible for chronic itching to be caused by:
- Liver disease.
- Kidney disease.
- Thyroid disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
How to Treat Chronic Itching
The treatment for your chronic itching depends on its cause. Medicated topical products may be helpful for conditions like eczema. Fungal infections like ringworm can be treated with antifungal medications. Patients with shingles may be prescribed medications to manage the symptoms and shorten their duration. If your itching is caused by a systemic problem like thyroid disease, diabetes, or anemia, your primary care doctor or internist will coordinate your treatment plan.
How to Prevent Itching
When itching is caused by dermatological conditions like dry skin, your dermatologist may recommend a few lifestyle changes, such as bathing with lukewarm water instead of hot water. Others include:
- Using fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products.
- Applying thick, moisturizing cream.
- Wearing soft fabrics like cotton.
- Using a humidifier during the winter.
Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology provides comprehensive diagnostic, therapeutic, and interventional services for all types of skin issues. Itchy skin problems like eczema, rosacea, and fungal infections are just a few of the conditions we treat. Call 801-266-8841 to request our next available appointment with a dermatologist in Salt Lake City.