Itching and rashes are symptoms that seem to go hand in hand. However, it is possible to experience itchy skin without having a visible rash or noticeable skin changes. The causes of itchy skin, or itching, are generally harmless. They are often related to temporary problems, such as dry skin or an insect bite.
Less commonly, problems with the nerves, kidneys, thyroid, or liver can be itchy without necessarily causing a rash. Depending on the cause, a person may experience an itchy sensation all over the body or in a specific area. The itching can range from mild to extreme. If a person is concerned about unexplained itching, extreme itching, or itching that lasts for a long time, they should see their doctor to determine the cause and get advice on treatments.
This article will explore five possible causes of itch without a rash and the different treatment options available.
1. Dry skin
Dry skin, or xerosis, is a very common complaint. The skin can start to feel itchy when it loses moisture. Dry skin can present as flaky or flaky. It is common among older adults, especially during the colder months.
The following tips can help relieve dry skin and prevent further drying:
- Avoid using soaps with harsh chemicals, as they can dry out the skin. Instead, try using unscented and hypoallergenic soaps and skin care products.
- Use a humidifier at home to add moisture to the air. This helps prevent winter-related dry skin.
- Apply moisturizer regularly, especially after getting out of the shower or bath.
- Petroleum jelly or heavy creams are popular choices.
- Avoid taking showers that last longer than 10 minutes. Also, keep the water warm instead of hot.
- Do not bathe several times a day.
- Avoid scratching your dry skin, as this can damage the skin’s surface. If the skin is broken, a person is more likely to experience scarring and infection.
2. Insect bites
Mosquito, spider, and other insect bites can make the skin around the bite itchy and irritated.
Insect bites can leave a very small hole or a puncture-like area. However, they can be so small that a person may experience itchiness but not see the actual bites. Many bed bugs can bite a person, including bed bugs, mosquitoes, and lice, and treatments can vary depending on the type of bed bug that caused the bite. If a person experiences continuous itching after an insect bite or stings, they should see their doctor.
Avoid scratching the area, as this can make the itching worse. Also, do not use over-the-counter topical antibiotics without prescription, as some people may develop an allergic reaction on their skin.
3. A side effect of certain medications.
Itchy skin is a common side effect of many medications. This can occur with or without a rash. However, not everyone will experience this side effect when taking these medications.
The following medications have itchy skin as a possible side effect:
- prescription pain relievers in the opioid category, such as acetaminophen, morphine, and fentanyl
- some medicines that lower blood pressure
- If a person suspects that a drug is causing itchy skin, they should speak to a doctor before stopping the drug. The doctor can advise on the best course of action and alternative medications if necessary.
Sometimes a doctor can stop the current medication to see if that is causing the itchiness. At other times, they may recommend taking diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydroxyzine to reduce itching symptoms.
4. Nervous disorders
Nerves carry messages from the skin to the brain. Nerve problems can cause itchy or painful skin without causing any real damage.
Several nerve-related conditions can cause itching or other sensations on the skin without causing a rash. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, diabetes can cause a variety of skin problems. For example, itching can be the result of diabetic neuropathy, which is a complication of diabetes that causes nerve damage.
Injuries that affect the nerves or cause nerve damage can also make the skin itch. The area that feels itchy will depend on the location of the injury.
Treatments for nerve-related itching depend on the underlying cause. If a person suspects they have a nerve disorder, they can talk to a doctor to find out what may be causing specific symptoms.
5. Kidney disease
Kidney disease, especially in the advanced stages, can be itchy without a rash. The cause of itching in kidney disease is not well understood, but scientists believe that there are many factors involved.
If a person knows that they have kidney problems and begin to develop itchy skin, they should contact her doctor. Your doctor will do tests to see how well your kidneys are working.
In some cases, a person may need dialysis. This is a medical procedure in which a doctor uses a machine to act on the site of the kidneys to filter the blood.
Dermatologists can prescribe one of several medications to help people with itchy skin from kidney disease.