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Understanding Pruritus/Itchy Skin

Understanding Pruritus/Itchy Skin

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Itchy skin or pruritus, is an irritating and uncomfortable sensation that can be made worse by scratching.


Let’s look at some of the causes of pruritus, symptoms and some of the methods to manage the skin condition effectively.




Pruritus or itchy skin can either be triggered by a skin injury, or by your skin’s response to certain allergens or substances which may cause irritation.


1. Skin Conditions


Pruritus can sometimes be caused by a variety of skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, and hives.


2. Skin Injury


Skin injuries especially skin burn such as :


  • sunburn
  • thermal burns (caused by skin coming into contact with flames, steam, or hot liquids)
  • radiation burns (caused by skin being exposed to radiation, such as a chemotherapy session)
  • chemical burns (caused by skin being exposed to bleaches, acids, or detergents)
  • electrical burns (caused by strong electrical current, SUCH as from exposed wires)
  • friction burns (caused by skin rubbing against a rough surface or material).


Other than causing muscle or skin tissue damage, disfigurement, loss of mobility, or loss of limbs due to burns, your skin may also experience itch, as a result of your central nervous system’s response to the healing process.


3. Allergens and Irritants


Wool, chemicals, and harsh soaps are common irritants that can cause itch, while substances such as poison ivy, jewelry and cosmetics can cause your skin to suffer an allergic reaction.


Certain foods too, including shellfish and various types of nuts, can cause an allergic reaction that includes pruritus in certain individuals.


4. An Indication Of Harmful Health Condition


Pruritus can be a tell-tale sign of more harmful underlying causes. This includes diseases or conditions affecting your internal organs, such as liver diseases, kidney failures, iron deficiency anaemia, thyroid problems and certain types of cancer.


Pruritus may also be an indication of a problem that affects the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, pinched nerves and shingles.


Interestingly enough, pruritus can also be a sign of mental health disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.


Also, some women may experience a form of pruritus during their pregnancy.



One of the most effective ways of doing away with itch while cleansing your skin at the same time is to use products containing pine tar.


Pine tar is the end-product of pine wood carbonisation following distillation using extreme heat.


It is widely used to treating various skin conditions due to its soothing and antiseptic properties.


Examples include psoriasis, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and other dry, itchy, flaky or inflamed skin conditions.


How Pine Tar Products Help You


To help relieve itching, skin redness, and irritation, you can use bath oils that contain pine tar. In addition to soothing the itch, they will help moisturise dry and inflamed skin.


Pine tar gels are beneficial in moisturising and cleansing dry, itchy skin.


Solutions containing pine tar can gently cleanse the skin without causing irritation to inflamed skin.




Managing pruritis effectively requires the right methods to treat the underlying causes and symptoms, such as as the use of moisturisers and gentle cleansers.


Consult a doctor or dermatologist if:


  • the pruritus lasts for 2 weeks despite your self-care efforts.
  • the itch is severe, and is disrupting your daily routine or preventing you from getting restful sleep.
  • symptoms such as extreme fatigue, weight loss, changes in appetite, bowel irregularity, changes in urination frequency, fever, or skin redness.
  • the pruritus appears suddenly and spreads rapidly, affecting your whole body.


Should you experience itchy hives along with difficulty in breathing, swelling of the eyes or lips, and difficulty in speaking or swallowing, go to the your nearest local hospital’s Emergency Department immediately!

Naomi Truong

Naomi Troung is a YesMyWellness.com author covering topics such as fitness, relationship, beauty and general wellness and wellbeing issues. She is a certified Yoga teacher from the Yoga Institute in Mumbai India and yes, she is also Muay Thai enthusiast and can been working out her moves at her regular gym.

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