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What Causes Itching Under the Skin?

Allergies commonly cause itchy skin.
The three main layers of skin.
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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A feeling of itching under the skin may be caused by parasites that have burrowed beneath the skin’s surface. These chronic itch symptoms can be among the most frustrating and cause incessant scratching with no relief. Chemotherapy and radiation may also cause a person to feel itchy all over, but these symptoms usually subside within a brief period following treatment or are completely alleviated once treatment is discontinued. Itching may also be caused by another disorder known as delusory parasitosis or Morgellon’s disease.

A persistent itch, also known as pruritus, is usually caused by an allergen, an environmental irritant or may even be caused by certain drugs or prescription medications. These may also appear as itching without rash. While each of these can cause a person to feel itching under the skin, these symptoms most commonly affect the top of the skin and will cause a person to scratch incessantly in an attempt to find relief, even temporarily so. As soon as the cause of this type of itching is addressed, itching usually subsides. An itching sensation under the skin, however, is impossible to relieve by scratching and can feel as though it is driving a person crazy.

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The presence of parasites beneath the skin will prompt a chronic itch and prompt scratching with no relief. Several parasites can cause this type of itching, including gnathostoma, which is a roundworm transmitted to humans when eating undercooked seafood, poultry or when drinking infected water. Mites, such as those caused by scabies, may also cause a severe itching under the skin. In order to calm irritation and stop the itch entirely, medical intervention will be necessary to remove the parasites or mites. The exact type of treatment will depend on the type of pest that has burrowed its way under the skin.

In some individuals, however, itching under the skin is caused by a psychological condition. Delusory parasitosis causes a person to believe that parasites are living beneath the skin’s surface and causing a deep itch. Often, the itching that is perceived in this condition is triggered by the use of drugs or by extreme emotional stress. Although the perceived cause of an itch is not real, delusory parasitosis is a very real condition and usually requires psychiatric treatment to cure this disorder. Also known as Morgellon’s disease, it may also produce skin lesions and ulcers, but this is usually the result of damage to the skin caused by incessant scratching and picking.

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Discuss this Article

cloudel
Post 2

Hydrocodone is the only drug that causes me to have itchy skin all over. I’m not the only one who experiences this side effect, either. My best friend and my mother both have told me that after taking it, they can’t stop scratching.

It’s the kind of itch you can’t get to with your nails. It is continuous and only fades as the drug wears off.

I only take this drug when I am in extreme pain, and I’ve discovered that if I cut the pill in half, I won’t experience any internal itching. Half a pill is usually enough to take care of my pain, because my body is really easily affected by medication.

seag47
Post 1

Morgellon’s disease sounds terrible! It sounds like patients with this condition are living a horror movie.

I have a fear of parasites and worms, so to even think about my skin crawling from something underneath it is too much for me to handle. I have had itching skin all over before, but I have always been able to track the source of the problem, and usually, a bump or a rash was involved. I think that if I had internal skin itching with no visible exterior signs, I would absolutely freak out.

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