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Itching is a peculiar tingling or uneasy irritation of the skin that causes a desire to scratch the affected area.
Itching can be all over (generalized) or only in a particular location (localized). There are many causes of itching, ranging from the simple to the complex.
Insect bites and stings can cause localized itching and skin irritation.
Both localized or generalized itching can be caused by:
Chemical irritation, such as from poison ivy or stinging
Infectious diseases (chicken pox)
For persistent or severe itching, see your health care provider for a precise diagnosis and specific treatment instructions.
In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to help deal with the itch:
Avoid scratching or rubbing the itchy areas. Keep fingernails
short to avoid skin damage from any inadvertent scratching. Family
members or friends may be able to help by calling attention to your
Call your health care provider
Call your health provider if itching is associated with other unexplained symptoms, is severe, prolonged, or cannot be easily explained.
Most itching does not require medical evaluation. Try to rule out the obvious causes of itching.
It is sometimes easy for a parent to discern the cause of a child's itching. Usually a simple visual examination will help you identify any bites, stings, rashes, dry skin, or irritation. Often the cause of itching is fairly obvious, such as a mosquito bite.
Recurrent itching without obvious cause, total body itching, and recurrent hives are all indications that the itching should be evaluated as soon as possible. Such itching may be a symptom of an underlying disease or condition.
What to expect at your health care provider's office
Your health care provider will obtain your medical history and will perform a physical examination.
Medical history questions documenting itching may include
Prescribed medications may include topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, and/or tranquilizers.
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