Overview

Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. Also known as pruritus (proo-RIE-tus), itchy skin is usually caused by dry skin. It's common in older adults, as skin tends to become drier with age.

Depending on the cause of your itchy skin, it may appear normal. Or it may be red or rough or have bumps or blisters. Repeated scratching can cause raised, thickened areas of skin that may bleed or become infected.

Self-care measures such as moisturizing, using anti-itch products and taking cool baths can help relieve itchy skin. Long-term relief requires identifying and treating the cause of itchy skin. Itchy skin treatments include medications, wet dressings and light therapy.

Nov. 03, 2016
References
  1. Fazio SB, et al. Pruritis: Overview of management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  2. Cassano N, et al. Chronic pruritus in the absence of specific skin disease. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2010;11:399.
  3. Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Pathophysiology and clinical aspects of pruritus. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 18, 2016.
  4. Yosipovitch G, et al. Chronic pruritis. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:1625.
  5. Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 22, 2016.
  6. Fazio SB, et al. Pruritis: Etiology and patient evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 23, 2016.
  7. Cunningham FG, et al. Dermatological disorders. In: Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 25, 2016.