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What can I do About Chronic Itching?

Nicole Madison
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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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.

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.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Jan 19, 2015

I was experiencing chronic itching in my bikini area a few months ago. I went to the doctor and there was no infection found. My doctor then suggested that I switch to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent. I did but the trouble continued. I finally started to suspect my panty liners. They were perfumed and I realized that I might be allergic to the perfume. I stopped using them and the chronic itching disappeared. Apparently, any kind of personal hygiene product and even underwear itself can cause allergic reactions and chronic itching.

I now wear 100% cotton underwear with non-perfumed panty liners and I also use perfume free laundry detergent. I just want to warn other women who may face the same problem.

By donasmrs — On Jan 19, 2015

@SteamLouis-- Please see your doctor right away and have your kidneys checked out. Those are signs of a kidney disorder.

Some itching can occur naturally in pregnancy. But it is usually mild itching and it doesn't last more than a few days. If you are itching so much that you're causing breaks in your skin, that's not normal. So get checked out. There are certain kidney conditions that may occur in pregnancy and may require early birth. So this symptom should be taken seriously.

By SteamLouis — On Jan 18, 2015

I'm six months pregnant and experiencing a lot of itching. I sometimes itch all over, but it's mostly in my palms and the bottom of my feet. The itching is worse at night and it's very difficult for me to fall asleep.

Has anyone else experienced chronic itching in pregnancy? Is it normal or should I be worried?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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