To the surprise of many, including my own as it turns out itchy skin is in fact a medical condition and the term used for this irritating sensation is pruritus.
The good thing about this medical condition is that it is easily treatable. To relieve yourself from the uncomfortable feeling simply use gentle cleansers and moisturizer or bathe with lukewarm water. If these simple solutions do not resolve the itchiness you may be in need of a long-term treatment which usually includes the use of medications. However, before you go on to a more radical treatment first the cause of pruritus must be identified. Some common co-symptoms to itchy skin are:
- Dry and cracked skin
- Spots, bumps and blisters
- Irritation and redness
- Scaly skin
Due to prolonged itching and scratching leading to further complications as infections and injuries, if the itchy skin lasts for a period longer than a few weeks, seeking professional medical help is obligatory.
What can the skin tell us about our health?
“Many underlying health conditions, some of which are very serious, first appear as a skin problem” says Joseph Jorizzo, who is an expert on signs of internal disease. Our skin despite being our larges organ and an elaborate “cover” also provides many essential functions.
If you go into a deeper examination of our skin you’ll find that it has three layers: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. Pigmentation, which is the process that gives us our skin color, takes place in the epidermis. Hair-follicles, sweat glands and connective tissue are a part of the dermis, while the hypodermis is made of connective tissue and fat.
Skin plaque: Psoriasis
Skin plaque or also known as primary lesion is an itchy elevated lesion which sometimes appears as flat although it is elevated. Due to having definable boarders skin plaques can appear in various shapes:
Skin plaques can appear in different parts of the body, on the scalp, the elbows, knees and lower back. Leg plaque is a specific type of plaque which is gold-colored in the center and reddish on the edge.
Butterfly rash: lupus, contact dermatitis, rosacea
Butterfly rush is regarded as the first sign of lupus, which is autoinflammatory disorder characterized by skin inflammation. There are several symptoms of lupus, which range from mild to severe and among those are hair loss, fever, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, thyroid problems and swollen joints.
Other conditions that butterfly rush may point to are rosacea and contact dermatitis. Symptoms of rosacea include facial redness, eye irritation, bumps and pimples and skin thickening. This is a skin disease that is mostly characterized by remission and skin flare-ups. On the other hand, contact dermatitis is generally caused by irritation from a cosmetic product, plants, jewelry or fragrances.
Chronic itch: neurological disorder
The urge to itch comes as a signal from our brain and nervous system and scientists have discovered that not following this command can lead to unexplainable itchy sensations. For instance, the peripheral nerves are spread from the spinal cord to all over the body, which means they reach the skin too. In case the nerves get damaged in any way, they will become oversensitive and this itself leads to itching sensations.
Scaly, red, dry patches: psoriasis
Scaly, itchy, red, dry patched that may be found on various regions of the body are usually connected to psoriasis. Some of the most common symptoms of psoriasis are skin flaking, inflammation and the presence of “thick silver, white or red” patches of skin.
The bad news about this condition is that there is no actual cure for it, all that can be done is control its symptoms with the use of systemic or topical treatments and sometimes even a combination of both.
Blisters and burn-like marks on the hands and forearms: eczema
Eczema is in fact a blanket medical term that refers to a group of conditions that result in skin inflammation. Small children and babies are often affected by this condition which causes blisters and rushes on their chin and cheeks.
Moreover, in this case scratching to satisfy the itching sensation is not recommended because it can spread it to other parts of the body. To relieve eczema symptoms some oral or topical medications must be used.