If someone starts itching as soon as he or she gets to bed at night for a restful sleep, it is a problem that should never be ignored. Itchy skin at night is problem that many people complain of to their physicians. They may have an itching sensation as soon as they hit the bed or sometimes because a different bed sheet may be the reason. While there are a variety of causes for an individual to have an itchy skin at night, bacterial or fungal infections are the primary causes.[1,2]
Itchy skin can be treated both medically as well as through natural means. Aside from common skin infections problems with liver and kidneys also are one of the causes of itchy skin at night. In most cases, there are also accompanying rashes, bumps, and spots on the skin.[1,2] The article below highlights the primary causes of Itchy Skin at Night in detail and ways to deal with it.
What Causes Itchy Skin At Night and What To Do About It?
The primary causes of Itchy Skin at Night include:
Irregular Sleep Cycle: The sleep cycle of a person, which is called the circadian rhythm, is the mechanism which tells the body when to sleep and when to be awake. In addition to this, it also controls the body temperature and regulates certain hormone levels. A disruption in the circadian rhythm of a person can cause itchy skin at night.
Sunburn: This is one of the most common causes of an itchy skin at night. If a person spends most of the day out in the sun, especially in hot and humid conditions, he or she gets overexposed to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight. This results in the skin surface to get irritated and cause an itchy sensation.
Hormonal Imbalance: This is yet another common cause for itchy skin at night. This is seen normally in females after menopause or during pregnancy where there is significant fluctuation of hormone levels, especially estrogen. This causes the skin to become dry and itchy.
Eczema: This is a skin condition which causes severe itching sensation at night. Eczema occurs due to inflammation of the skin. The resultant continuous itching causes the skin surface to become cracked and rough and even at times bleed.
Hives: This is another skin disorder that commonly causes itchy skin at night. The characteristic feature of Hives is the presence of a skin rash that is normally triggered by an allergic reaction mostly due to medications or food. The reaction causes inflammation and fluid build-up under the skin causing rash and an itchy sensation. Some of the most common triggers aside from food and medications for Hives include pollen, chemicals, and cosmetics.
Psoriasis: This is a skin disorder that normally is seen in the form of raised red colored rash around the elbows and knees. These inflamed lesions cause an itchy sensation at night. Psoriasis occurs when there is overproduction of skin cells causing a build-up. These excess skin cells cause raised rashes which at times can even crack and bleed.
Scabies: Itchy skin at night is also caused by infections due to bugs. The most common is scabies that is caused due to mites that make their home within the furniture, linen, and clothing of people. These mites then find their way into the skin of a person and get deep into it. They then start laying eggs. The site where the mites enter the skin becomes itchy and may also have rashes. Scabies is a contagious disease and transmits through prolonged skin contact.
Lice: Head lice are extremely common in children. These parasites feed on human blood and make their home in the scalp and lay their eggs on the hair shafts. These parasites cause severe itching on the scalp sensation even at night.
Bedbugs: This is yet another common cause for itchy sensation at night. Bedbugs are commonly seen in mattresses, sofas, and even linen and clothing, especially clothes and linen which have been stored for long periods of time. Bedbugs strike mostly around midnight and this is when the person starts to experience severe itching sensation.
Aside from these common causes, there are also certain medical conditions that result in a person having itchy skin at night. It is imperative to get checked up with a physician if an individual has itchiness of the skin accompanied by unintentional weight loss, increased pulse rate, excess fatigue, or enlarged thyroid gland to get a diagnosis and start treatment.
Kidney/Liver Dysfunction: End stage renal disease or chronic liver dysfunctions both have itchiness as a common symptom.
Thyroid Disorder: Itchy skin at night also at times may signal a problem with the thyroid. Both underactive and overactive thyroid can cause itchiness of the skin at night.
Psychological Conditions: Sometimes, itchy skin at night may also be caused by stressful situations. Mental disorders like anxiety and depression also at times cause an urge for itching at night.
Cancer: Rarely, serious conditions like cancer also have a tendency to cause itchy skin at night. This is especially in cases where there is no identifiable cause for the sensation. However, this sensation will be accompanied by night sweats, fever chills, unexplained weight loss, and poor appetite.
How To Deal With Itchy Skin At Night?
If the cause for the itchy skin at night is known then dealing with the problem becomes easier. Since the most common causes are due to skin disorders and bugs, natural remedies and supplements are best to try for complete relief from the sensation.
Melatonin Supplements: This is extremely helpful in getting rid of itchy skin at night. The reason behind it is that melatonin induces sleep and if the person is in deep sleep then the sensation to itch at night wanes off.
Moisturizers: There are a variety of moisturizers available over the counter which effectively treats dry and cracked skin. Once the skin surface is moist and hydrated, then are little chances of the person having itchy sensation. These moisturizers should be applied to the skin before going to bed at night.
Baking Soda: Adding a small amount of baking soda to water before having a bath is also quite an effective way to deal with itchy skin at night. However, care should be taken not to use it more than twice a week at maximum for best results.
Cool Compresses: This is also quite effective in controlling the urge to itch, especially in people with skin disorders. This is most effective at areas where the skin temperature gets high as a result of irritation caused by persistent itching.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: For people with psychological conditions like undue stress, anxiety, or depression, CBT is extremely effective. It not only helps people cope up with the condition but also deals with the physical symptoms that accompany like in this case itching sensation at night.
Antihistamines: These are useful for itching that result due to allergic reaction. Antihistamines block the production of histamines that are known to cause itching thereby controlling the urge to itch especially in the night. It is best to consult with a dermatologist on the choice of antihistamine that would be best suited to the skin without any side effects.