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Posted by on Jul 29, 2011

What is THAT?…and why am I so itchy?

Oh, rashes. We’ve all encountered them in some form, mostly from an allergy or something we touch. Growing up on 10 acres of wooded land, I found myself adventuring outside to “explore” (usually poison ivy). I then got to explore the rash that would form on my skin, along with all the scratches I collected on my legs from stepping in briars, and all the itching that ensued. Rashes are a common skin condition that many children and adults experience and they are utterly annoying to deal with.

Rashes, also called dermatitis, are often caused by things that your skin touches (contact dermatitis) such as:

  • Chemicals in elastic, latex and rubberskin conditions
  • Cosmetics, soaps and detergents
  • Jewelry (like all women, I’m allergic to fake gold)
  • Dyes and other chemicals in clothing
  • Poison ivy and poison oak

Common symptoms include:

  • Red rash or bumps
  • Itching
  • Dry, red patches
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
  • Pain or tenderness

Irritant and allergic contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis fall into two categories: Irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is more common and caused by repeated contact with a substance that – wait for it – irritates the skin! Bleach is a substance that can cause this after just one exposure, as it removes oil and protective barriers in the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a reaction to substances (allergens). The resulting rash, and sometimes blisters, is your body’s response to the allergen. It can take several years to develop
an allergy, which will then last for life.

Self-help

Most the time you have to ride out the rash, which is the most annoying part of developing a rash. After taking antibiotics, I developed a rash that lasted for two weeks and the only remedy that significantly soothed my itching was olive oil. Olive oil has healing and renewal properties and helps restore moisture to the skin. The only thing more annoying than having to apply this on my skin is the craving of bread that followed. Other self-help remedies include:

  • Witch hazel
  • Oatmeal
  • Aloe Vera
  • Calendula Essential Oil
  • Baking Powder
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Chamomile
  • Jewelweed
  • Wild Pansy

Complications

Prolonged scratching may increase the intensity of the itch and lead to Neurodermatitis, so it’s best to keep your skin as moisturized as possible. The chlorine that is in your shower water can exacerbate itching, as it strips your skin of its natural moisture. Installing a shower filter that removes chlorine, as well as other contaminants, is one of the best things you can do for persistently itchy skin.

When to see a doctor

Some rashes may require a visit to your dermatologist or family doctor. See your doctor if:

  • You’re so uncomfortable that you’re losing sleep or daily routines are interrupted.
  • Your skin is painful
  • Your skin becomes infected
  • Self-care has failed
  • You feel the cause is job-related