5 underlying physical and mental causes of itchiness
While itchiness of the skin is agitating in and of itself, it can also be a subtle symptom of a more serious medical issue. Both problems in your body and brain can contribute to unexplainable, irritating itchiness. Here are five potential physical and mental causes of itchiness and skin irritation.
Nervous System Troubles
Itchiness isn’t always a surface level issue. If the nervous system is unwell, it can signal skin cells to start itching for no distinguishable reason. While there is no rash, this invisible itchiness may signal a damaged nervous system. Conditions that can cause this reaction may be spinal cord disease, multiple sclerosis, nerve damage, shingles, brain tumors, and more.
Both underactive and overactive thyroid can cause a plethora of health problems, and unexplainable itchiness may be one. Although specific reasons for this reaction haven’t been pinpointed, the impact of thyroid issues on the sweat glands might contribute to itchiness. In addition, skin tissue contains thyroid hormone receptors, and when they go underused, skin irritation can occur.
The mind is a powerful organ, and certain psychological conditions can cause one to feel as if though their skin is itchy and crawling, even if there’s no physical cause. This often leads to obsessive picking or scratching, especially that seen with trichotillomania. However, it can also be triggered by more common mental health conditions, such as OCD, depression, and anxiety.
While itching may not seem like an obvious side effect, plenty of medications can result in itchy, irritated skin. These tricky reactions can appear without any rash or redness, yet medication might be the culprit behind these seemingly phantom itches. Everything from prescription pain meds to those for high cholesterol can cause itching, and it’s worth getting in with a doctor to find out if any new or old medication might be the root.
Allergies are an extremely common condition, and itchiness and rashing may indicate an allergy to pollen, pets, skin products, certain metals, and more. This type of reaction will present itself as contact dermatitis, often resulting in a red, itchy rash where the allergy is most reactive. The place where the itchiness and/or redness occurs can help doctors identify what allergy might be causing the reaction.