An itch is a feeling on your skin which makes you want to scratch or rub. It's an irritating feeling you can't easily ignore. It can even be worse than pain for some people. This feeling can have a variety of different causes, including: skin fungus, allergies, dry skin, eczema, an insect bite, diabetes, liver disease or a chronic skin condition.
You’ll suffer from an irritating feeling on your skin which is difficult to ignore. With the worst kind of itching, you may even be tempted to scratch your skin until it bleeds. This can cause injuries and infections. The symptoms you may suffer from can differ per cause and per person. For example, itching can affect someone’s entire life and it can hardly cause side effects for others. Only the generally applicable advice is described below, as the advice can also differ per person and per cause.
The most important advice for itching is not to scratch. Not everyone will be able to resist this. In order to still avoid this, you could:
- Cut your nails short and wash them every day. Washing will remove as much bacteria as possible from under your nails. This will prevent additional complications or problems if you do end up scratching your skin. Bacteria will be able to enter your body more easily by scratching it open.
- Apply ointment or cream to the itchy areas. Examples of ointments and creams which can counteract the itching include: cooling ointment, zinc oxide mixture and levomenthol. All three options are available from the pharmacy or chemist.
- Cool your skin with an ice pack. Always put a cloth around it and never put it directly on your skin. Cooling can reduce the itching. You could also use a bag of frozen vegetables.
You can also reduce the risk of itching by:
- Using lukewarm water when showering.
- Taking a short shower.
- Not showering too often.
- Applying an oily body cream to your body every day.
- Having plenty to drink.
- Drinking no or a moderate amount of alcohol.
- Ensuring good ventilation in the house.
- Not wearing irritating, constricting or rough clothing.
- Rinsing your clothes well after washing. There will subsequently be as little soap residue as possible in your clothing which can cause skin irritation or itching.
- Avoiding getting too hot. Not setting the heating too high in the house and wearing clothing which is appropriate to the weather.
You should contact your GP if:
- The itching has not gone away after a few days.
- The itching is intense.
- You also have other symptoms which worry you.
- You’re pregnant and have severe itching on the soles of your feet or on the palms of your hands.
- You’re pregnant and you have itching all over your body.