Itchy skin is not usually a sign of anything serious. You can often treat it yourself and it should go away within 2 weeks.
Sometimes, itching is simply caused by dry, cracked or irritated skin. You can do some simple things to help ease the itching.
These things may also help stop itchy skin returning and avoid skin damage from scratching.
A pharmacist can recommend the best products to help with itchy skin – for example, anti-itch creams, lotions or antihistamines.
Let them know where your skin is itchy and if you have any other symptoms.
They might also be able to tell you:
Your doctor might prescribe creams, lotions or tablets depending on what's causing the itching.
They will look at your skin and ask about your symptoms.
They might ask to wipe a cotton bud over the area of itchy skin and send it for testing, or arrange a blood test. This helps to check it's not something more serious.
Your GP may refer you to hospital if you need specialist tests or treatment.
Itchy skin has many possible causes. If you have other symptoms (such as a rash or swelling) this might give you an idea of the cause.
But don't self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.
|Possible causes||Common examples|
|Skin reactions to heat or something you're allergic to||allergies, hives, prickly heat|
|Longer-lasting skin conditions||dandruff, eczema, psoriasis|
|Fungal skin infections||thrush, ringworm, athlete's foot|
|Parasites or insects living on the skin||scabies, head lice, pubic lice|
Many women also have itchy skin during pregnancy or after the menopause. This is caused by hormonal changes and should get better over time.
In rare cases, itchy skin can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as thyroid, liver or kidney problems.