Itching - Introduction
NHS Choices Medical Reference
Itching is an irritation of the skin that causes a desire to scratch the affected area. It is a common symptom and can be uncomfortable and frustrating.
The medical name for itching is pruritus.
Itching can affect any area of your body. It can occur over your whole body, or just affect a particular area. You can often see a rash or a spot where it occurs.
What causes itching?
Itching can be caused by:
- a skin condition, such as eczema
- an allergy, for example to nickel
- a parasite infestation or insect bite
- an infection, such as thrush
- an internal condition, such as diabetes
- hormonal changes
Treating the underlying cause may relieve your itching, so see your GP if your itching does not get better.
How is itching treated?
Treatment will depend on the cause of the itching. You may be able to relieve your itching by making a few lifestyle changes - for example, using unperfumed products and avoiding wool clothing (see Itching - treatment for more tips).
Medications such as antihistamines and steroid creams can sometimes help. See your GP if you would like to consider medication for your itching.