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What Causes Skin To Itch?

blog image - psoriasis on the elbowIf your skin is itching and you give it a good scratch, it will usually make the itching worse. This is especially difficult to convey to children but adults can also find it hard to resist scratching. Apart from an insect bite or brushing against a stinging nettle or other wild plant, what conditions can cause skin to itch?

There are actually quite a few

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease where your body’s defense system is triggered and overreacts. In fact the usual skin replacement process is greatly speeded up so that instead of the normal 3 to 4 weeks, the skin cells may be replaced every 2 to 6 days, leading to a build-up of skin cells on the surface of the skin. The characteristic redness of the skin is due to the extra blood vessels required to support this cell production increase. Without treatment for psoriasis, the skin can become extremely uncomfortable so that even brushing the hair can be painful when the scalp is affected.. The symptoms of psoriasis commonly appear on the knees, elbows, behind the ears and on the head. The skin becomes dry, red, rough and scaly in appearance and is extremely itchy. Eczema is another itching condition affecting even very young children. The word ‘eczema’ comes from Greek words meaning 'to boil over’ while the term ‘dermatitis’ comes from the Greek for skin. Both refer to the same skin condition although eczema is more commonly used. Eczema is an itchy inflammation of the skin, associated with other symptoms including: redness of affected areas of skin; generally dry skin (which is often thickened in the areas that have been scratched); and lumps or blisters in affected areas. Folliculitis is a third condition which might not be so familiar. As the name suggests, this inflammatory condition affects the hair follicles and appears as a small localized area of pus around a hair follicle. As the pus disperses, red bumps remain. The condition is linked to acne vulgaris (frequently affecting teens and twenties) as acne is a type of folliculitis too. Although folliculitis affects people of all ages, like acne it is most common in teens and young adults and usually seen in otherwise healthy people. While it may clear up on its own, folliculitis may require ongoing maintenance therapy. The pustules can be itchy and painful at times. In severe cases, the development of large and hard bumps on the scalp can lead to scarring and hair loss. Good skin hygiene and proper shaving techniques can help to prevent folliculitis.

Why are you suffering from this itchiness?

  • Over the counter and pharmaceutical medications for these conditions are at best on the harsh side, at worst downright toxic. It makes good sense to start treatment by avoiding foods that might worsen the condition, change to foods that actually improve the situation and generally treat as naturally as possible.
  • Top of the list to investigate is a possible gluten allergy as this appears to be the culprit behind so many chronic, inflammatory conditions today. For example, Dermatitis Herpetiformis which is a type of eczema is actually caused by gluten.
  • Moisturizing is also key to combating itchiness and good quality oils (including essential oils) do a great job in keeping the skin lubricated and hydrated. Always be careful about what you apply to the skin because it is quickly absorbed into the body and into the lymphatic system along with any toxins (such as cancer-causing carcinogens) in commercial skin creams and personal products.

How to treat psoriasis and its itching symptoms

  • In cases of psoriasis in the scalp, and during an outbreak, every 2nd day apply plenty of apple cider vinegar to the area and allow it to soak for at least 45 minutes (to re-establish the natural pH balance) before thoroughly rinsing with warm water and shampooing with a natural herbal shampoo (one that contains natural oils but minus any of that toxic sodium laurel sulfate).
  • Another remedy for the scalp is to apply jojoba oil and aloe vera, allowing them to soak in overnight.
  • Ensure turmeric is included in the diet. An easy way is to add the powdered root when making a veggie juice. On the subject of vegetables: beets, grapes, cucumber, dark green leafy varieties and carrots are all especially beneficial for psoriasis.
  • Apart from changing to gluten-free, include fatty fish in your diet (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) or take a supplement such as flax seed oil or krill oil to reduce inflammation and help to lessen the psoriasis.
  • Swimming in the ocean, taking seawater baths or applying seawater to the affected area of the psoriasis daily is very beneficial.

How to treat the dryness and itchiness of eczema

Unfortunately, dryness and eczema go hand in hand and it is this dryness that makes it so important to keep on moisturizing for an outbreak of eczema symptoms. Add in heat and sweat, and the skin becomes even more irritated and itchy because when the body sweats, valuable water and moisture is lost from the skin. Establish a skin care routine with a daily warm bath using a natural moisturizing aqueous cream in place of soap for cleaning and soaking for 15 to 20 minutes so that the skin’s outer layer can absorb moisture. Alternatively, add colloidal oatmeal like Aveeno to the bath by pouring 2 cups of the oatmeal into the warm water. Afterwards, the skin should be dried by gently patting with a towel to remove excess water before applying a moisturizer to the damp skin. Our own recipes for homemade skin lotion and natural “Vaseline” type jelly can be found here.

Treating the irritation and itchiness of follicultis

Shaving or wearing tight clothes that rub the skin can cause irritation to the follicles along with sweat, body oils and makeup. Use a warm water compress made of a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar on the affected area several times a day to prevent itching and burning and to reduce any pus formation. Folliculitis is actually a bacterial infection and it is important to prevent any spreading by avoiding water and friction. Wearing loose cotton clothing and not using any commercial creams or lotions during the healing period works well.

Other common denominators to treating these skin conditions

First is the importance of high vitamin D levels. For example recent studies have found that “feel good hormone” moderates immunity in psoriasis. If you are wondering, vitamin D from sun exposure is the best way to optimize such levels, helping to boost the immune system and improve the skin but, if this is not always possible, taking a vitamin D3 supplement is the next best choice. You are what you eat and drink, so drinking only pure filtered water and eating a healthy diet with plenty of good fats and fresh fruits and veggies will not only boost your immune system but help with the healing of itchy conditions too.