Itchy skin is a very common symptom that many Americans report experiencing. It affects many seniors every day, and can get so bad that it often leaves older Americans bedridden until the pain subsides and they can once again move freely.
Itchy skin has a wide variety of causes, but some are more concerning than others. All it takes to stay up to date is a quick search online. If you’re concerned, see your doctor or dermatologist about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
Itchy skin can be triggered by a number of potential causes including:
- Skin conditions, including dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, parasites, burns, scars, insect bites and hives.
- Irritation and allergic reactions to topical things like wool, chemicals, soaps and other substances can irritate the skin and cause rashes and itching. Sometimes the substance, such as poison ivy or cosmetics, causes an allergic reaction.
- Reactions to certain drugs, such as narcotic pain medications (opioids).
Mild causes of itchy, irritated skin include:
- Internal, underlying diseases such as liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems, multiple myeloma or lymphoma.
- Nerve disorders, including multiple sclerosis, pinched nerves and shingles.
- Psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.
Major conditions that can cause itchy skin include:
- Dermatomyositis: Signs of this uncommon inflammatory disease include an itchy and painful rash, and may be indicative of an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
- Breast Cancer: Early symptoms may include persistent itching and the appearance of a rash or small irritation similar to an insect bite. The breast typically becomes red, swollen, and warm with dilation of the pores of the skin. The skin may appear pitted like an orange peel, and nipple changes such as inversion, flattening, or dimpling may occur.
- Crohn’s Disease: A Crohn’s flare can trigger rashes or skin disorders in as many as 1 in 5 cases.
- Hepatitis C: Up to 20 percent of people living with chronic hepatitis C report itchy skin. It typically occurs without the appearance of a rash and isn’t relieved by scratching.
- Eczema: Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and sore. Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread inflamed skin all over the body. Inflamed skin can become red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin.
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that can lead to skin rashes, scaly patches, and other skin changes, all of which can be itchy.