If the simple measures given in itching: what you can do, do not control the itching, you should see your doctor.

Diagnosing the problem. Your doctor will check your skin for signs of skin disease, such as eczema or folliculitis (an infection that is sometimes picked up from hot-tubs), and will also look for scabies. If you think you have urticaria, your doctor can help work out the cause. Itchy skin with nothing to see can sometimes be caused by diseases (such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, iron deficiency and liver problems). Therefore your doctor will ask about your general health and do some blood tests.

Possible treatments. Obviously, if your doctor finds a reason for the itching, you will receive the appropriate treatment. Sometimes it can take a while for the itching to go. For example, after scabies is treated, the itch may persist for a few weeks.

If no specific cause can be found, don’t be too dismayed. This is a common situation. The good news is that this type of itching often clears up after a few weeks or months. Meanwhile, a moisturizing cream (also called an ‘emollient’) and an antihistamine drug can help. Some antihistamines can make you feel drowsy and have been responsible for road accidents, so be very careful about driving while taking them. An antihistamine before bedtime can help night itching. If antihistamines do not deal with the problem, various other drugs can be tried. For ‘notalgia paraesthetica’ (itchy back), capsaicin cream may help (Dermatology in Practice 2007;15:16–20).


First published on: embarrassingproblems.com
Reviewed and edited by: Fiona Elliott
Last updated: December 2020

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