Some skin irritations & itches are due to an underlying condition, whereas others are due to external irritation. This can take the form of food allergies, environmental allergies, soaps, cosmetics, detergents, pollen, or latex.
Rashes are usually due to the body releasing histamine as a reaction to one of these triggers, which causes inflammation & itching.
Sensations of discomfort on the skin may also be due to fungal infection, which results from an overgrowth of the fungi that grow naturally on the skin, but which can come out of balance due to poor diet, a course of antibiotics, harsh soaps, & other factors.
Itching & discomfort of the skin affects most people at some point. The skin is our largest organ, & our barrier to the outside world, & it is susceptible to environmental factors, allergies, & infections. Rashes can occur all over the body, & may have a number of different causes. If you are experiencing any itching or discomfort in any part of your skin, come & speak to a dermatologist who can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms.
A wide range of conditions can cause skin itching & discomfort. Some of the more common skin rashes & irritations include:
- Eczema (dermatitis), an allergic disease most common in those who have a tendency towards allergy (atopy). Symptoms include inflammation of the skin, dryness, itching, redness, & a flaking or blistering rash, caused by the production of histamine. The skin may also become scaly & thicken. Eczema can be triggered by dust, pet hair, certain foods (milk, soy, wheat), pollen, & mould. Eczema can affect the whole body.
- Hay fever often involves a rash, although this a less common presentation, as the main symptoms are sneezing, nasal congestion, & watery eyes.
- Urticaria (nettle rash), a kind of rash that is acute or chronic, involving elevated, red, blotches or patches of skin which may be intensely itchy or painful, caused by histamine produced by the skin in response to the presence of an allergen, such as certain foods or drugs, insect bites, or a brush with a nettle plant (hence its name).
- Contact Dermatitis is a skin irritation caused by an irritant, as opposed to an allergen. These include metals, chemicals in make-up, toiletries, & perfumes, detergents, & latex. The symptoms include hives, blisters which may leak fluid, red skin, blistering skin, itching, & photosensitivity.
- Candida (yeast infection) is an overgrowth of the candida fungus which causes a burning, red rash that can be intensely sore & itchy, with dry, crusted skin around the edges which may blister or form pustules. Candida can affect the armpits, buttocks, inside of the mouth, & between the fingers & toes (where it is called athlete’s foot). It can also affect the genitals in men & women (thrush).
Some systemic conditions can also cause skin irritation, such as cirrhosis of the liver, psoriasis, lupus, pinworm, & chicken pox.