Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Itch facts
- What is an itch?
- What are associated symptoms and signs of itching (pruritus)?
- What causes itching?
- How is the cause of itching diagnosed?
- Should people scratch the itch?
- What are topical itch treatments? Are there any home remedies for itching?
- What are oral itch treatments?
- Can itching be prevented?
- When should the doctor be consulted for itching (pruritus)?
- What are possible complications of itching?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) for itching?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What is an itch?
Itch is an irritation in the skin that elicits an urge to scratch. Itches are a problem that everyone experiences and can be localized (limited to one area of the body) or generalized (occurring all over the body or in several different areas). Sometimes, depending upon the underlying cause, itching may be worse at night. In medical terminology, itching is known as pruritus.
Generalized itch that occurs all over the body is often more difficult to treat than localized itch. Itches can also occur with or without skin lesions (bumps, blisters, rash, or abnormalities that can be seen on the skin). An itch that is accompanied by a visible skin abnormality should be evaluated by a physician and, in some cases, by a dermatologist since the problem is likely to be a condition that requires specialized medical treatment (for example, eczema, scabies, etc.).
What are associated symptoms and signs of itching (pruritus)?
Depending upon the underlying cause, itching may be associated with other symptoms and signs. Most commonly, these associated findings include skin lesions such as rash, blisters, bumps, or redness of the affected area. Dryness of the skin is a common cause of itch. Itching of skin can lead to tears in the skin (excoriations) from scratching. Less commonly, generalized itching can be a sign of chronic medical conditions such as liver disease. In these situations, there may be no changes to the appearance of the skin.
Next: What causes itching?
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