Definition of Itching (Pruritus)

Pruritus is simply the scientific term of itchy skin that is an irritating, discomforting sensation that leads to scratching of the affected area.  Scratching is a natural reaction to a body itch. An itchy skin can come from literally hundreds of possible causes. Itchy skin or pruritus can be likely a result of dermatitis or psoriasis. However, pruritus can also be a sign of severe underlying conditions like kidney failure or liver disease. Itching sensation may be accompanied by skin blisters or bumps, rough skin or skin redness or no sign at all.

Knowing the cause of your itching can lead to treatment that primarily addresses the itching sensation. Treatments for itching can include light therapy, wet dressings and medications. Utilizing remedies like cool baths and anti-itch products can also address the itch.

Conditions Associated with your Itching

In order to ascertain whether your itching is a symptom of a more basic condition, tests and examinations can be helpful. Skin conditions associated to itching can involve:

  • Scabies – This is a skin problem that is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei and if left untreated can lead to severe skin scarring and damge. Scabies can also be very contagious. It can be contacted through physical contact.
  • Lice – One of the common sources of severe itching is lice (head lice, pubic lice and body lice). Lice can be acquired through contact with infected animals and people. Lice are insects that parasitically feed on your blood. They can leave red bumps on the skin that signifies that they have sucked blood in that area.
  • Hives – These are skin conditions characterized by red, itchy, raised bumps on the skin. You can develop hives due to allergies from certain foods or medications.
  • Tinea diseases – Tinea is a fungal infection and is also known as ringworm. Some forms of tinea infection include jock itch, ringworm or the scalp, ringworm of the body and athlete’s foot. The signs of ringworm infection include flat, round patches of itchy skin.
  • Psoriasis – This skin disease is caused by a shorter-than-normal life of the skin that results in the accumulation of dead and rough skin cells on the surface of the skin. When dead skin cells begin to collect, they look like red, dry patches and slivery thick scales that can be painful at times.
  • Dermatitis – This is referred to as skin inflammation or eczema. Dermatitis has many types and correspondingly different causes as well. It can also develop into several forms. The most common form of dermatitis is atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis is characterized by itchy, reddened and swollen skin.

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