What Causes an Itching Back?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2019
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An itching back may be the result of a rash, sunburn, dry skin, scabies, eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Pregnancy, bug bites and contact with environmental irritants may also cause itchy skin. Although an itching back can be quite irritating, it is a common occurrence and does not usually indicate a serious illness in most cases. There are certain underlying conditions, however, which may cause itchy skin anywhere on the body, including the back, such as diabetes, thyroid disease and anemia.

Depending on the cause, some of the symptoms of an itching back may include itchy skin in the upper and lower back regions, which may sometimes be accompanied by hives, redness or a rash. While back scratching usually relieves itchy skin symptoms, when hives or a rash is present, medicated anti-itch skin creams are sometimes used for healing relief. Hives or a sudden rash may also be the symptom of an allergy.

A few of the environmental irritants known to cause itching include chemical detergents, grass and shrubbery, and certain clothing fibers. When one of these conditions causes itchiness, it is usually due to an allergic reaction to one of these items. In some instances, however, people may experience itching due to a mixture of sweat and bacteria on the skin. Generally, this type of itching will go away after bathing.


During pregnancy, women often experience itchy skin in general. When this occurs, back itching is commonly due to skin stretching due to weight gain and may also be due to hormonal changes that cause a skin reaction. Some women experience short-term itching during a pregnancy, while others suffer from itchy skin throughout their entire pregnancy.

Conditions known to cause skin rashes and dry skin also contribute to an itchy back. Skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis are frequently to blame. Although psoriasis primarily affects the scalp, the back, the forehead and the face may also be affected due to the proximity of each to the scalp. Most people find that each of these conditions lessens with appropriate medical treatment and lifestyle changes.

When dry skin is the cause of an itching back, it is easily remedied by applying a lotion or cream to moisturize the area. When chronic dryness and itchiness is an issue, a person may need to increase hydration efforts. If itching persists, however, health experts recommend consulting a physician for examination of a possible underlying cause of excessively dry skin.

Sometimes, a person with another more serious condition may experience an itchy back, as well as skin itching on other parts of the body. This is often attributed to nerve damage created by the underlying disease. In some individuals, however, medications taken to treat an underlying illness may also cause back itching.


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Post 1

I've had a scaly, itchy, upper back rash that feels bumpy but not red. The scales are flat are between the neck and upper back area. I've had it for a while (1 l/2 years) and it won't go away. I've been to a dermatologist and he did some tests and found that I'm allergic to oak trees and Bermuda grass which I am surrounded with as I live on a golf course. I was given a steroid to take care of it and it did up to a point then it came back.

Steroids are not good to take for any length of time, so I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do. I read your article and others and I can't really seem to find anything similar to my situation.

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