Itching is an annoying sensation that can be caused by different diseases and skin irritations. There can be two types of itching and they are mild itching and severe life threatening itching troubles. The mild condition can occur to anybody, who lives in a dry climate where there is no moisture in the air or may occur during winter or in case there has been a building up of dead skin cells. However, the severe itching problems are more than mere problems of dry skin and may occur due to infection, insect bites, and inflammation or due to diseases like liver disease, celiac disease, and others.

Whether occurring only in the hands and feet or in the entire body, itching can be really irritating and if the disease is not treated, it may lead to severe trouble.

Health Conditions Leading to Itching

  1. Itching Caused by Skin Disorders and Conditions:

    There are certain skin conditions and disorders that can cause chronic and recurrent itching sensation on the skin. These include:

    • Itching Caused due to Psoriasis: Affecting about 2% to 3% of the US population, this is a common non-contagious skin trouble. The affected person will have thick, red, and scaly patches on the skin. Mostly it is associated with a disorder in the immune system and the specific cause is not discovered but it runs in the family.
    • Itching Caused due to Athlete's Foot: Also known as ringworm of the foot or Tinea Pedis is a superficial skin disease or a fungal infection that occurs only on the feet. Usually, this highly contagious disease gets contaminated through direct contact with an infected person, animal or from towels and bed sheets used by them. Spacing or webs occur in between the fingers in the toe.
    • Itching Caused due to Pitted Keratolysis: Caused by a bacterial infection, this disease affects the soles of the feet and rarely the palms of hands. An unpleasant odour can also be encountered from the infected feet. Unventilated and sweaty feet are likely to develop pitted keratolysis and it becomes extremely itchy.
    • Itching Caused due to Dyshidrotic Eczema: This is a common skin disease that exhibits itchy, fluid filled rashes on the palms of the hands and or on the feet and in between the gaps of the fingers. The cause of these small itchy blisters is unknown.
    • Itching Caused due to Irritant Contact Dermatitis: When there is a direct chemical injury on the skin, there is a stinging and burning sensation occurring from the inflammation that gradually and persistently causes itching as a predominant phenomenon.
    • Itching Caused due to Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Some environmental chemicals and allergens such as nickel, rubber chemicals, chromates, different kinds of ointments and creams, fragrances as well as lanolin formaldehyde etc. are reasons that can cause a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Scaly and elevated skin, swelled eyelids, blisters as well as severe itching are its common symptoms.
    • Itching Caused due to Sweaty Rock Syndrome: This is yet another skin disease that is a main reason for the skin, especially on the soles of the feet, to itch. The itching can continue for many years. This condition mainly occurs in the children, and as they lead towards puberty, it gradually disappears. However, in severe cases, the skin becomes so tight and dry that they develop fissures or painful cracks.

    If you have these skin diseases or disorders, it is very important that you cure them at first. Otherwise, itching will continue to persist.

  2. Itching Caused by Insect Bites and Stings:

    Different insects can cause prolonged itching due to their poisonous injects. The bugs and insects that bite us aren't all severely dangerous and poisonous and hence, can only leave an itchy patch on the skin. Ticks, scabies mites, fleas, horse flies, chigger mites, bed bugs, pubic lice, mosquitoes, head lice, black flies etc. are the most common insects and bugs that bite and cause itchy sensation.

    Apart from these harmless insects, which only cause itching, there are other insects and bugs such as fire ants, wasps, bees, yellow jackets and paper wasps, which can cause severe inflammation of the skin. This sometimes leads to swelling of the bitten area, hives as well as red and soft itchy bumps. Redness of the skin is also a common problem. Mosquitoes, spiders and other bugs can cause itching in a large area along with bruises in the area near the bites. Lice can, on the other hand, cause so much itching by crawling in the scalp that the scalp starts to swell.

  3. Itching Caused by Allergies:

    If you are allergic to something, and you consume it or come into contact with it, you will grow itching on the entire body or at least locally. Cat allergies and pet allergies can cause itching along with sneezing, swelling of eyes and more. Milk, aubergine, shellfish, peanut, soy, tomatoes etc. are some common food items that can cause severe allergies to those, who have intolerance to these. Reportedly, 6.5 million adult Americans are allergic to different kinds of shellfish, including shrimp, prawn, crab, crayfish, clams, lobster, mussels, squid, oyster, octopus, scallops, snails, cuttlefish and more.

    The allergy causing itching can also occur from some medicines or drugs. Which drug would be allergic for whom, cannot be pre-defined. One person, who is likely to be benefited with one drug, may be allergic to other, whereas, that same drug might suit someone else. Drug allergies are common causes for itching along with many other symptoms such as stomach upset, nausea and vomiting. MSG or monosodium glutamate is also a reason that can cause itching on the skin of those, who are allergic to this food taste enhancing additive.

    An extremely strong allergen that irritates and cannot be tolerated by the whooping 85% of the allergic sufferers in the United States of America is the ragweed. This causes the Hay Fever, one of the strong diseases, which occurs throughout the country amongst the 70 million allergy sufferers. Its common symptom is itchy and watery eyes. Sunburn and prickly heat is a common cause of itchiness. It can exhibit red small bumps throughout the body or in areas, where maximum sweating occurs.

  4. Itching Caused by Physical Condition:

    There are various involuntary physical, both external and internal, conditions that can cause itching throughout the body.

    • Itching Caused due to Dry Skin: No doubt this is the most common physical cause that can cause skin itching. Long term bathing, washing and prolonged stay in air conditions or central heating system can cause dry skin. But generally, those who live in low humid and cold areas, are likely to develop red bumps on the body that severely itch and this is because of their dry skin.
    • Itching During Pregnancy: During pregnancy, women can develop an itchy experience on their abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms.
    • Itching due to Hormonal Changes and Menopause: This is a physical condition during which the skin tends to become dry because of the hormonal changes and hence, itching occurs.

    As these are involuntary causes, they cannot be controlled and will have to be tolerated.

  5. Other Medical Conditions that can Cause Itchiness:

    Piles, over or under active thyroid glands, hepatitis and other liver related conditions, diabetes, anaemia, polycythaemia etc. are medical conditions in which, along with other symptoms of those very diseases, a person is very likely to experience itchiness.

    If itching occurs, there are different medicines and drugs that can be taken to get some relief. There are also some home remedies such as cold compress, applying moisturisers etc. which indeed help a lot. However treating the actual cause is important to get complete relief.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: June 18, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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