What Are the Causes of Unexplained Itchiness?

A doctor may need to be consulted to determine the cause of unexplained itchiness.
Hives can be very itchy.
A topical cream can be applied to alleviate itchy skin.
Itchiness may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Dry skin or eczema can be a cause of itchiness.
Article Details
  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Unexplained itchiness 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. Hormone changes, especially during pregnancy and menopause, are known to cause itching in some people, as is dry skin. More serious health conditions such as kidney failure or certain forms of cancer may also cause itching. Any persistent problems with unexplained itchiness should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Allergic reactions to medications, foods, or environmental substances may lead to unexplained itchiness. Many times, the 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 assistance is vital. This combination of symptoms could indicate a severe and potentially life-threatening type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Some medications may cause mild to moderate itching. Morphine is particularly well known for having this side effect. Some antibiotics as well as narcotic pain relievers list itching among the possible side effects, and this type of itching tends to stop after the medication has been discontinued. If other bothersome side effects occur along with the itching, a doctor should be consulted for further medical evaluation. Hormone changes, especially among women who are pregnant or going through menopause, may lead to unexplained itchiness.


Several skin conditions cause itching. If a skin condition is present but not yet diagnosed, this could be the cause of unexplained itchiness. 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 an oozing rash or pain, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, known as a dermatologist, may need to be consulted.

Some serious medical conditions are known for causing unexplained itchiness, although other less serious causes should be explored before assuming this as the cause. Kidney disease or kidney failure frequently causes itching. Liver disease may also be to blame. Certain forms of cancer, especially cancers that affect the blood, commonly cause itching. It is always important to consult 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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