What are the causes of unexplained itching?

Unexplained itching is a relatively common problem with many potential causes. Some of the most common reasons for the condition include allergic reactions, undiagnosed skin conditions, and the effects of certain medications. Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy and menopause, are known to cause itchiness in some people, as well as dry skin. More serious health conditions, such as kidney failure or certain forms of cancer, can also cause itching. Any persistent problem with unexplained itching should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Allergic reactions to medications, foods, or environmental substances can lead to unexplained itching. Often, itching is the only symptom present and usually indicates the presence of a mild allergy. If the itching is accompanied by a rash, swelling of the lips or throat, or difficulty breathing, emergency medical care is vital. This combination of symptoms can indicate a serious and life-threatening type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Some medications can cause mild to moderate itching. Morphine is particularly known to have this side effect. Some antibiotics and narcotic pain relievers list itching among the possible side effects, and this type of itching tends to stop after the medication is stopped. If other bothersome side effects occur along with itching, a doctor should be consulted for further medical evaluation. Hormonal changes, especially among pregnant or menopausal women, can lead to unexplained itching.

Several skin conditions cause itching. If there is a skin condition present but not yet diagnosed, this could be the cause of the unexplained itching. Dry skin, eczema and psoriasis are among the most common skin conditions. Most doctors can diagnose skin disorders, but if there are other symptoms, such as a rash or pain, you may need to see a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions, known as a dermatologist.

Some serious medical conditions are known to cause unexplained itching, although other less serious causes should be explored before assuming this is the cause. Kidney disease or kidney failure often causes itching. Liver disease may also be to blame. Certain forms of cancer, especially cancers that affect the blood, are often itchy. It is always important to see a doctor for any itching that does not have a known cause so that proper diagnostic tests can be performed and an accurate diagnosis can be obtained.

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