You may have itchy skin over certain small areas, such as on an arm or leg, or your whole body may itch. Itchy skin can occur without any other noticeable changes on the skin. Or it may be associated with:
- Bumps, spots or blisters
- Dry, cracked skin
- Leathery or scaly texture to the skin
Sometimes itchiness lasts a long time and can be intense. As you rub or scratch the area, it gets itchier. And the more it itches, the more you scratch. Breaking this itch-scratch cycle can be difficult, but continued scratching can damage your skin or cause infection.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor or a skin disease specialist (dermatologist) if the itching:
Jan. 28, 2014
- Lasts more than two weeks and doesn't improve with self-care measures
- Is severe and distracts you from your daily routines or prevents you from sleeping
- Can't be easily explained
- Affects your whole body
- Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as extreme tiredness, weight loss, changes in bowel habits or urinary frequency, fever, or redness of the skin
- Fazio SB, et al. Pruritis: Overview of management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
- Cassano N, et al. Chronic pruritus in the absence of specific skin disease. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2010;11:399.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
- Yosipovitch G, et al. Chronic pruritis. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:1625.
- Benzocaine topical products: Sprays, gels and liquids — Risk of methemoglobinemia. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm250264.htm. Accessed Aug. 28, 2013.