Severe itching (or pruritus) is an irritating and uncomfortable skin condition that demands incessant scratching. Severe itching could be limited to a localized area or be all over the body. The causes of severe itching could be due to inherent skin conditions, certain diseases or due to reaction from a skin product or drug.
Dry skin condition leads to itching. In some people, especially older people, the skin becomes scaly, especially in the areas of the joints and leads to severe itching. It is aggravated by hot baths and becomes extremely important to keep the skin moisturized. Increased scratching can lead to inflammation of the skin, and broken areas in the skin which are prone to infection.
Extreme dry condition, like eczema causes severe itching, even in young children. In this condition it is important to avoid hot baths and apply moisturizers without wiping the skin dry. To rid this condition, doctors might have to prescribe hydrocortisone creams, to be applied directly to the skin or in extreme conditions, taken orally. The cause of this condition is still not known, but it might last for up to a few years. People suffering from this condition, avoid the use of scented products, and wear natural fibers to prevent aggravation of itching.
Allergies are another cause of severe itching. In this case itching is accompanied by redness and slight inflammation of the skin in that area. It could be due to allergy to a skin product, food, or drug. Though most often the itching subsides after some time, it is very important to identify what products you are allergic to avoid them in the future.
Another common cause of severe itching is insect infestation like lice, or mites. This is often accompanied by a rash, and is localized to a certain area where the parasite is found. Other insects like ants or bugs can also trigger itching when they come in contact with the skin.
Certain diseases like leukemia and kidney diseases can cause severe itching. Itching is one of the main symptoms of a blood condition, polycythemia vera. Similarly, sexually transmitted diseases, for example yeast infection can also cause server itching in the genital area. To alleviate this condition, it is imperative to take a prescribed drug or ointment from a doctor.
Other causes include increase exposure to sun, jaundice, and extreme stress or anxiety. If severe itching lasts several days and causes inflammation of the skin, it is important to consult your doctor and get a correct diagnosis.