What Causes Severe Itching?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell
A woman applying an anti-itch cream.
A woman applying an anti-itch cream.

Severe itching is a relatively common problem and can have a multitude of causes. Dry skin and other skin conditions are among the most common causes. Some diseases such as kidney disease or certain forms of cancer can lead to severe forms of itching. which can affect the entire body. Allergies to foods, medications, or other substances are responsible for many cases of severe itching as well. Treatment is primarily focused on the cause of the itching and can include oral medications, creams, or lifestyle changes.

A pubic louse, which can cause severe itching.
A pubic louse, which can cause severe itching.

Dry skin is perhaps the most common as well as the most easily treated cause of severe itching. Dry skin becomes more common as a person ages, and colder climates tend to have more reported cases of dry skin. Drinking plenty of water and keeping the skin moisturized with a gentle lotion are the best solutions for this type of itching.

Skin disorders such as eczema or psoriasis can often cause severe itching. These skin disorders may be linked to food or chemical allergies in some people, although the exact cause is not always known. A dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of skin disorders, can recommend the proper types of treatment for these conditions.

Severe itching is a common problem that can have a multitude of causes.
Severe itching is a common problem that can have a multitude of causes.

Chronic disease can often cause severe itching due to certain organs or systems not being able to function properly. Diseases involving the kidneys or liver are particularly known for causing severe itching, which sometimes feels like it is coming from underneath the skin. Some forms of cancer, especially leukemia or lymphoma, may also cause this type of itching.

Hives can be very itchy.
Hives can be very itchy.

Parasites are not something most people think about, but they are a relatively common source of severe itching. Scabies is a skin condition caused by a small mite and can develop anywhere on the body. Lice are small insects typically found on the head, although pubic lice, found on or near the genitals, are also relatively common. Medications to treat these conditions can be bought over the counter or with a prescription.

Head lice causes scalp itching.
Head lice causes scalp itching.

Any persistent severe itching should be reported to a medical professional in order to obtain a correct diagnosis. The primary treatment involves directly treating the source of the itching. Medicated creams and oral anti-itch medications are available over the counter at most drug stores and can often help to relieve some of the symptoms while the patient searches for answers concerning the cause. If these medications do not provide adequate relief, the doctor may prescribe stronger medications.

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    • A woman applying an anti-itch cream.
      A woman applying an anti-itch cream.
    • A pubic louse, which can cause severe itching.
      A pubic louse, which can cause severe itching.
    • Severe itching is a common problem that can have a multitude of causes.
      Severe itching is a common problem that can have a multitude of causes.
    • Hives can be very itchy.
      Hives can be very itchy.
    • Head lice causes scalp itching.
      Head lice causes scalp itching.
    • Mosquito bites can cause severe itching.
      Mosquito bites can cause severe itching.