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What Can I Do About Chronic Itching?

Some laundry detergents can cause skin reactions.
Chronic itching can be a sign of mental stress.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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Chronic itching is a condition in which a person experiences itchy skin over a long-term period of time. This differs from the occasional itching many people experience and can become an almost constant annoyance. In most cases, treating chronic itching involves discovering the root of the problem and treating the underlying condition. In the absence of an underlying medical condition, however, you may try drinking more water; moisturizing your skin; changing soaps and detergents; and performing relaxation exercises.

There are some serious conditions that cause chronic itching, so it is best to see a doctor before you try to treat chronic itching on your own. Chronic itching sometimes emerges as a symptom of kidney disease and even some types of cancer. In some cases, itching may develop because of an allergy as well. Sometimes chronically itchy skin may even result from an infestation with body lice or some other type of parasite. While you may be able to detect and treat body lice on your own, some allergies and other conditions may require a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment.

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After you’ve been to see a doctor and ruled out serious underlying conditions, you may decide to treat chronic itching at home. If you have a known allergy for which you do not need prescription medication, you may take an over-the-counter antihistamine when itching is intense. You may also switch soaps and laundry detergents to determine whether doing so relieves your skin irritation. Additionally, you may have some success with using moisturizers to keep your skin from becoming too dry, which increases itching. Using a humidifier in your bedroom may help during the winter months as well if the heat in your home dries your skin.

Increasing your intake of water may also help when you’re dealing with chronic itching, as additional fluids may keep your skin from becoming too dry. While consuming water may help, bathing and showering may aggravate the problem. You may do well to avoid taking hot baths and showers, as this has the effect of drying the skin and increasing itching; lukewarm water is usually better for preventing itchy skin. You might also consider adding milk to your bath water to help calm itching.

In some cases, chronic itching can be a sign of mental stress. If you think this may be the cause of your itching, you may try meditating or performing relaxation exercises to induce a feeling of calm and treat itching. You may also do well to consider ways to eliminate or minimize stressors from your life.

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