Itching Can Have Hundreds Of Causes, But Therapies For Most

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (UPI) — There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for persistent itching, but there are therapies for most types of severe or persistent itching, U.S. researchers say.

The Mayo Clinic Health Letter reported itching can have hundreds of possible causes, but itching with a rash could be the result of dry skin, allergic reactions, skin disorders, or infectious diseases such as chickenpox or shingles.

Treatments vary due to the cause of the rash and include:

— Oral antihistamines ease itching due to allergies or hives. Corticosteroids help with itching caused by skin inflammation.

— Medicated cream is applied to the affected areas and covered by wet cotton cloths. This approach often is effective when other therapies fail.

— The skin is exposed to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light several times a week over the course of weeks or months.

Itching that occurs without a rash can be the result of diseases such as liver disease, kidney failure, anemia, some cancers and many other conditions; medications such as narcotic pain relievers and some cancer medications; and nerve dysfunction such as pinched or irritated nerves, the newsletter said.

Treating the underlying condition or adjusting medications can provide relief, but anti-depressants may be helpful in select situations where other therapies haven’t worked.

A number of topical creams and ointments can help relieve an itch immediately. Options include topical anesthetics such as lidocaine or benzocaine and ointments and lotions such as peppermint, camphor or calamine.

When itching persists, it’s a good idea to check with a physician for a diagnosis and treatment, the newsletter said.

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