Itching skin or pruritus can be caused by any number of conditions. In most cases a small area of your skin will become itchy for a short time, but in some cases a wide area of your skin can become affected by this itching. There are conditions that can causes, from mild to serious, the skin to become itchy without developing a rash, but both home remedies and medical treatments can help relieve the condition.
Causes of Itchy Skin without Rash
1. Allergic Reactions
Chemicals, wool, soap and other substances can cause the skin to become irritated and itchy. In some cases an allergic reaction to foods, cosmetics or poison ivy can cause the body to develop itching on the skin.
3. Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is a condition that leads to damage of the kidneys, usually from high blood pressure or diabetes, leading to the kidneys to stop working properly. As the kidneys stop working properly the body will develop acidosis where the blood becomes increasingly acidic. Kidney failure is known to cause itching on the skin that is not accompanied by a rash. You may also experience decreased immune function, fatigue, weakness, an increased need to urinate, seizures and confusion.
4. Cholestasis during Pregnancy
Cholestasis is a disease of the liver that may develop in the later stages of pregnancy. As this condition develops bile flow from the gallbladder to the kidneys is altered by the hormones released during pregnancy. This will cause an overabundance of bile acid in the liver which will then start moving into the bloodstream, causing itching across the body but no accompanying rash. This itching is often the most severe in the hands and feet.
Lymphoma is a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system and moves into the blood. This can develop as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma, but approximately 12 percent of those that develop lymphoma have Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer will cause the skin to become itchy without a rash, weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue.
6. Dry Skin
Dry skin is one of the most common causes of widespread itching without the presence of a rash. This condition, known as xerosis, is not serious but it can make you uncomfortable. When the skin becomes dry the cells will shrivel and create wrinkles and fine lines. It may feel taut and stretched or appear shrunken. You may notice scaling, flaking or peeling in addition to mild to severe itching on the skin.
Scabies is caused by mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) burrowing into the skin, leading the skin affected by this infection to become itchy. The itchiness associated with this condition is often the most severe at night. Scabies are highly contagious and often spread amongst people when materials such as towels, bedding or clothing are shared.
Home Remedies for Itchy Skin without Rash
1. Proper Diet
You should drink plenty of water or get water from consuming juicy fruits, fruit juices or soups. Avoid consuming a great deal of pineapple or mango as they can cause itching to become more severe. Increase your intake of leafy green vegetables and cut down on consuming fried, oily foods, fast food, eggs and red meat.
2. Moisturizing Cream
Applying a high quality moisturizer one or twice a day in the areas that are particularly itchy can help to provide relief. Look for products that contain Eucerin, Cetaphil, Vanicream, CeraVe.
3. Anti-itch Cream/Lotion
Hydrocortisone creams are available in 1 percent doses over the counter. Applying these to the skin can temporarily relieve itching. You can also take an antihistamine to help relieve itchy skin.
4. No Scratching
While it may temporarily address your itchiness, you should avoid scratching your itchy skin as this can cause damage. Trim your nails or wear gloves at night to reduce this risk.
5. Cold/Wet Compress
Covering areas that are itchy with a dressing or bandage that is cool and wet to prevent scratching.
6. Cool Bath
Take a cool bath with colloidal oatmeal, baking soda or uncooked oatmeal to soothe the skin. Choose finely ground oatmeal products that are designed for use in the bathtub.
7. Oatmeal Bath
Fill your bathtub with water and add a cup of oatmeal to the water. Bathing in this mixture every other day will greatly improve itching symptoms.
8. Proper Clothing
Smooth, cotton clothing will be much less likely to avoid irritating your skin.
9. Mild Soaps
Rinse soap completely off the body and avoid using soaps with perfumes or dyes that can irritate your skin. Apply moisturizer after you have washed to keep your skin of moist.
10. Mild Laundry Detergent
Use mild launder detergents that are unscented when you are washing your clothes, bedding or towels. Using an extra rinse cycle when you wash these items to remove as much of the soap as possible.
Medical Treatments for Itchy Skin without Rash
Oral antihistamines can help manage hives or inflammation from skin allergies. You can also apply corticosteroid creams on areas that are very itchy and cover these areas with a damp cotton bandage to help the skin absorb this medication to relieve itching.
2. Treating the Underlying Condition
If it is found that an internal disease such as a thyroid problem, kidney disease or iron deficiency is causing your itching you will need to manage this condition to relieve your symptoms.
3. Light Therapy
During phototherapy your skin will be exposed to a variety of ultraviolet light wavelengths over the course of multiple sessions. This should help to control itching.
4. Short-Term Relief
If the itching is not responding to treatment you can use ointments to provide short term relief for your condition. Lotions that contain camphor, calamine or menthol and anesthetics that contain benzocaine or lidocaine are particularly helpful.
When to See a Doctor
If your itching has lasted more than two weeks without any improvement, you cannot explain your itching, the itching affects the whole body or is extremely uncomfortable and makes it difficult to participate in everyday life you should contact your doctor. You should also let your doctor know if your itching is accompanied by additional symptoms like changes in bowel habits, weight loss, extreme tiredness, redness of the skin, fever or the urgency to urinate.