Itching All Over the Body – Causes and Natural Treatments

Itching All Over the Body – Causes and Natural Treatments
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Itchy skin in one particular area or all over your body can be frustrating and uncomfortable. The itch can range from a mild tickle to a feeling of intense sudden itching. Very often, the itchy feeling on the skin is made worse by a person’s stress levels because these make the itch become more intense. Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, allergies, sunburn, or yeast infections can cause itchy patches of skin all over your body.

Many people say that the itch on their body feels like something is crawling on their skin or that they have a tingling sensation or tickle on, or just below the skin’s surface. It can be tempting to scratch the itch to get a relief. However, that usually results in an itch-scratch cycle where the itching becomes uncontrollable and a person feels that he can’t stop itching.

In this article I’ll look at the many causes of itching all over your body to help you know how to prevent it. You will also find many useful natural treatments to help soothe and get rid of itchy skin. First of all,  let’s look at one of the main causes that makes itchy skin more intense – stress.

Itchy Skin and Stress – the Connection

Stress can affect the skin making it itch more intensely and become prone to outbreaks of eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, and other types of skin rashes.

Dr. Debra Jaliman on WebMD says that stress causes the skin to become more sensitive and reactive.1 This can start a cycle of stress and skin problems because a person starts to worry about their appearance, which then adds to the stress.

Studies have also shown that there is a direct connection between itchy skin conditions and stress. Dermatologist, Dr. Richard D. Granstein carried out research into the link between the nervous system and inflammatory skin conditions. His research showed that stress results in chemicals being released from the skin’s nerve endings, and this affects how the body responds to important functions. These chemicals can lead to inflammation of the skin.2

A study by Temple University found that students who were under stress suffered more from itchy skin all over their body, flaky patches on the scalp, and itchy rash on hands.3

One of the best ways to prevent skin itching on any part of your body is to learn how to manage stress better. Lowering your stress levels will also make natural treatments to soothe itchy skin more effective.

There are many effective natural remedies for stress and anxiety, including essential oils, that you can use to avoid the damaging effects of stress.

Itching All Over the Body – Causes and Treatments

Eczema

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition which causes itchy, red, and dry skin and can affect any area of the body, and even the palms of your hands. The itching caused by eczema can become very intense, and scratching the itchy skin can lead to secondary skin infections. There are various forms of eczema which cause itchy skin, these are:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Irritant dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic allergic skin reaction which is often inherited.3 Contact and irritant dermatitis occur when the skin comes into contact with chemicals or substances that cause itchy rashes to break out on the skin.4 Eczema is also one of the causes for having itchy skin after a shower and it can also cause the skin on your hands to peel.

To prevent outbreaks of itchy skin rashes caused by eczema, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends trying to identify any substance which triggers dermatitis. It is good to remember that symptoms won’t appear immediately and can take up to 2 days before your skin becomes itchy and inflamed.5

Coconut oil can help to soothe the itchy skin which is caused by eczema. Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties which make it a great natural ingredient to soothe itchy and inflamed skin. It can also help prevent secondary infections from developing because of scratching.6

To use coconut oil to treat your itchy body, all you have to do is apply some coconut oil directly onto the itchy skin several times a day and before going to sleep.

You can also use a coconut oil bandage to soothe eczema on your body. You should warm some coconut oil and dip a cotton pad in it. Place this on the area of eczema and lightly hold in place with a bandage. Leave on for 15-20 minutes to ease irritation and soreness caused by eczema.

You can also combine aloe vera and coconut oil to create your own mixture to help you relieve itchy skin caused by eczema.

Additionally, you can find more natural treatments to treat eczema in my articles: Useful Natural Treatments for Eczema and the The Best Essential Oils For Eczema.

Allergies

Allergies are a common reason for itchy skin, and the itchy patches can appear on any area of your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, food allergies and allergic reactions to pets can cause itching on the body, eczema, hives (raised, itchy red patches of skin), and itching in the mouth (caused by food allergies).7, 8 Dr. Melissa C. Stöppler says that, in some people, exercise can trigger an allergic reaction to food and cause you to feel itchy all over your body.9

The best way to prevent itchy body due to allergies is to avoid whatever triggers the allergy. For food allergies, it’s important to read labels carefully. If pet allergies cause itching, keeping the house clean by vacuuming and changing bedding regularly can help to prevent the itching.

Antihistamines can help to reduce the symptoms of allergies. You might be surprised to know that, according to a study published by the Arizona State University, taking 2 g vitamin C daily can help to prevent allergic reactions.10 This is just one of the natural antihistamines to fight allergic reactions that I have written about. You can also try to use essential oils for allergies.

Hives

Hives can also cause the whole body to itch. These raised bumps can appear anywhere on the body and cause mild to severe itching. They are the body’s allergic response to coming into contact with an allergen.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that some of the most common substances that trigger hives and cause itching are:11

  • Pet allergies
  • Insect bites
  • Certain food like shellfish, eggs, milk, and nuts
  • Pollen

However, extreme stress can also cause hives that make the skin very itchy.

Chamomile oil can help you get rid of the itching that hives cause because it soothes the skin. In fact, studies have shown that chamomile oil inhibits the release of histamine.12 To make a soothing chamomile application for hives, mix 5 drops of chamomile oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Using a cotton ball, apply to the hives to reduce the itchy sensation on your skin and the swelling. For other natural remedies, read my article on how to get rid of hives naturally.

Candida Fungal Infections

Another cause of itchy skin could be a Candida fungal infection. Skin infections caused by the Candida yeast can cause itching, rashes, scaling, and swelling. Candida infections (candidiasis) can be caused by a weakened immune system, using antibiotics, being overweight, or pregnancy.13

To prevent skin infections caused by the overgrowth of Candida in the body, it is recommended to take probiotics. This is especially true if you have to take a course of antibiotics because the probiotics help to keep a healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive system. A study in 2006 into probiotics found that they help to reduce the side effects of antibiotics and also inhibit Candida from overgrowing.14

Other studies into probiotics show that they can help reduce levels of stress in people and help to improve brain function.15

A great way to get relief from the itching that Candida causes is to use raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV is an effective topical application to stop skin itching and to kill off infections. Mix together equal amounts of raw unprocessed ACV and water. Using a cotton ball, apply the ACV to the itchy skin for a quick relief.

You can also add one or two cups of ACV to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes and this can help to cure whole body itching. For even better results, why not add a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with a carrier oil? The tea tree oil will also help to kill off the fungal infection and soothe itchy areas of skin.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used to help soothe itchy skin caused by eczema and psoriasis (and there are other great reasons to wash your face with ACV).

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is described as red, inflamed patches of skin which can be very itchy and painful. The itchy patches of skin can also be covered with loose, silvery scales. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that psoriasis is an autoimmune response and can be triggered by:16

  • Infections
  • Sunburn
  • Stress
  • Cold weather
  • Smoking
  • Heavy use of alcohol
  • Certain medications

To prevent outbreaks of psoriasis you should try to keep the skin moist to prevent it from drying out. One way to treat psoriasis naturally is to add coconut oil to your diet or apply it topically.

An oatmeal bath is a soothing remedy to help relieve itchy skin all over your body, and it can help treat psoriasis breakouts. Oatmeal is also an effective treatment for eczema because it contains properties which soothe and heal inflamed skin.16

To make an oatmeal bath to relieve any kind of itchy skin, you should put 2 cups of ground oatmeal into an old pair of pantyhose. Set this under the faucet of your bath and fill the bath with tepid water. Squeeze the oatmeal occasionally to draw out more liquid. Then relax in the bath and let the oatmeal take away the itch from your body.

Turmeric can also help to relieve body itching. This is because, according to research, curcumin (the main compound in turmeric) is anti-inflammatory18 and helps to suppress the immune cells that cause psoriasis.19

The application of turmeric to treat psoriasis would probably be more practical for small skin areas. To make a turmeric paste to alleviate itchy skin, you should mix some water and turmeric powder to form a thick paste. Apply this to the psoriasis areas before going to bed and cover with gauze. In the morning, rinse the turmeric paste off with warm water. Remember, that turmeric can stain bedding yellow (as well as your skin), so please apply the gauze carefully.

Bed bugs, fleas

Bed bugs and fleas can cause itching all over your body – literally from head to toe, depending on where they bite. Some people have no reactions to bed bugs. However, in other people, the bites from bed bugs can cause allergic reactions and excessive itching all over the body.20

Bed bugs and fleas aren’t necessarily a sign of uncleanliness, but can be found anywhere. However, bed bug infestations can be difficult to deal with.

You can treat itching caused by bed bugs or fleas by using tea tree oil. All you have to do is apply one drop onto bites to relieve the itch. You shouldn’t use tea tree oil directly on larger areas of your skin. To soothe larger areas of itchy skin you can add 2-3 drops tea tree oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and apply this to the affected skin.

Tea tree oil is also a natural insecticide and pesticide21 and you can make an aerosol spray to kill bed bugs. You can try adding 20 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray this all around the areas of your bed where you think bed bugs may be hiding. You can also use other natural ways to get rid of fleas as well as bed bugs.

Sunburn

Sunburn can cause uncontrollable itching all over your body if you have been exposed to the sun for too long. The symptoms of sunburn usually appear a few hours after being in the sun. The classic symptoms of sunburn are:

  • Red skin which can be painful and tender
  • Itchy and peeling skin a few days later
  • Skin which feels warm to touch
  • Swelling and blisters
  • Headaches and fevers

To prevent sunburn, it is important to cover your skin and always wear sunscreen with SPF 30+ on exposed skin. It’s also advisable to avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.

If you have a terrible itch from sunburn you can get relief by applying aloe vera gel.22 The properties of aloe vera help to stop itchy skin, reduce inflammation, and heal burned and damaged skin. The easiest way to use aloe vera for itchy, sunburned skin is to apply 100% aloe vera gel directly to the itchy skin areas.

You can also try an oatmeal bath to soothe itchiness if you have it all over your body.

All Over Body Itch When Pregnant

Intense itching on your body when pregnant could be a sign that you have cholestasis of pregnancy which is a common liver disease that only happens in pregnancy.

The Mayo Clinic says that itching during pregnancy can affect just the hands or feet, but that some women have itching everywhere (including their breasts). The itching usually starts during the third trimester and can get gradually worse until your due date. The itching should go away a few days after the birth.23

Doctors think that the reasons for having intense itchy skin during pregnancy are connected with hormones that affect the liver. Cholestasis of pregnancy can also run in families.

If you notice severe and intense itching during pregnancy, it is important to let your health care practitioner know about it. This is because cholestasis of pregnancy can affect the baby and can cause complications.24

It can be difficult to get relief from itching during pregnancy with home remedies. You can try a warm oatmeal bath to soothe the itching over all your body. Or, applying an ice pack to the itchy area of skin can also give temporary relief from itching.

Less Common Causes of Itching all Over the Body

There are some less common reasons why some people experience itching all over their body.

Cancer

The charity Cancer Research says that some cancer tumors can cause itching all over the body. Doctors think this could be the body’s reaction to the tumor and the itching should go away when treatment starts.25

Thyroid Problems

According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, an overactive or underactive thyroid can cause itchy skin.26

Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease can cause daily episodes of severe itching caused by too much urea in the blood. The itchy skin is usually on the upper half of the body. People undergoing hemodialysis usually have uraemic pruritus – chronic itching associated with kidney disease.27

Liver Disease

Dr. Adam Husney on WebMD says that one of the symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver is itching. This is usually accompanied by yellowing of the skin, fatigue, weight loss, belly pain, and frequent infections.28

Read these related articles:
1. Itchy Armpits: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments
2. The Best Natural Remedies For Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)
3. Itchy Ear Canal – Causes and Natural Home Remedies

Resources:
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9 Responses to Itching All Over the Body – Causes and Natural Treatments

  1. jerusha wairimu says:

    my whole body is itching and as I scratch there are swellings am told is an allergic reaction bt I don’t know to what am allergic to

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to implement an effective allergy treatment. You may need to refer to allergy clinic to do some allergy testing to identify the specific trigger that causes your allergic reactions.

  2. Sivakumar says:

    My mother is 72 years old and having itching all over the body since last 10 months. She consulted several doctors and still facing the itching problem. Kindly advise the reason for itching and any action could be possible to solve this. Waiting for your reply.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Unfortunately I’m not a doctor so I’m unable to provide specific advice. As you’ve seen from the article, there can be several reasons for that, and the treatment depends upon the root cause of the problem. So without knowing the cause, it’s hard to have a treatment plan. I don’t have the tools and the ability to give a professional diagnosis. I apologize I cannot be more helpful.

  3. Sandeep Mazumdar says:

    Can I use mustard oil instead of coconut oil

    • Jenny Hills says:

      The reason for using coconut oil is due to its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties which make it a great natural ingredient to soothe itchy and inflamed skin. I’m not sure if mustard oil has the same properties as I personally don’t use it and don’t know much about it’s properties.

  4. Mfreke says:

    I have been having severe itching in all part of my body mostly mid night when I woke up, I will scratch my self till morning, and it has happen for months now, and am very uncomfortable, please can I go for a skin test. wen I scratch one place. it spread all over the body and I begin to scratch, that my body is now rough. please what can I use to prevent this

    • Jenny Hills says:

      As you could see from the article, there can be many causes for all-over body itching, and the treatment depends on the cause. If you struggle to find the cause of your problem, it’s best to see a dermatologist for a professional diagnosis and a treatment plan. Unfortunately I cannot give specific advice as I’m not a doctor.

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