Q: I've been itching more over the past couple of months. At first, there's no rash. But my skin does turn red in areas where I've scratched. What might be causing this?
A: Scratching your skin will cause it to become red, no matter what the reason for your itch. So the real question here is why are you itching without any rash? The most common reason is dry skin. Your skin might not appear dry and flaky, but it could still be dry enough to cause the itching.
Although allergic reactions usually cause visible hives, sometimes the skin changes are subtle until you start scratching at your skin.
Stress and fatigue also commonly cause itching without a rash. Some other causes of itching without a rash include:
1. Iron deficiency anemia
2. Kidney disease
3. Liver disease
5. Thyroid disease (both an underactive and overactive thyroid can cause itching)
Keeping your skin moist will clearly help itching related to dry skin. Moisturizes can also help relieve itching from other causes.
If you don't have aquagenic pruritus, cool showers can provide temporary relief. Put on moisturizer right after you get out of the shower while your skin is still wet.
Don't soak in a bath tub. This dries out your skin even more.
If the itching continues, you do need to see your doctor to evaluate possible causes other than just dry skin.
(Howard LeWine, M.D., is a practicing internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass., and Chief Medi.cal Editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School.)
For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)
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