Unexplained itching of the skin at night can disturb even the deepest sleepers.But don’t worry, nighttime itching, or itching at nightis a common problem that can usually be managed with home remedies or over-the-counter medications.
While there is no single cause, triggers for nighttime itching may include the body’s natural circadian rhythm, existing skin conditions, lifestyle, environmental factors, or a more serious underlying disorder.
This article will identify common causes, home remedies, medications, and prevention methods for nighttime itching.
Itching can be caused by a variety of causes, from common skin conditions to daily stress. Here, we explain the most common causes and how to narrow down the ones you encounter.
Several aspects of a healthy circadian rhythm, our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, cause skin changes at night, It sometimes causes itchy skin without a visible rash.
These changes include body temperature, humidity or skin moisture, and hormonal fluctuations.
- Body temperature: At night, our body temperature decreases, thanks to hypothalamus, an important gland in the brain responsible for regulating body temperature. It prompts the body to go through a natural cooling phase during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phase of sleep or when you start dozing off. When the skin releases heat to the environment during this phase, it increases the itching sensation, leading to nighttime itching.
- Skin Dehydration: Our skin passively loses moisture throughout the night, a process called percutaneous moisture loss. However, when the health of the outermost layer of our skin (the stratum corneum) is compromised by existing skin conditions such as dryness or atopic dermatitis, it can lead to increased itching.
- Hormonal Fluctuations: You’re less likely to fight the itchy feeling at night. The inflammation-neutralizing hormone, cortisol, follows a circadian rhythm. Since its concentrations are lowest at night and at midnight, we may have less help in reducing the effects of inflammation, increasing the likelihood of itching at night.
During the day, we’re under executive control of what’s called the higher cortex, which means our brains are working hard to process every moment of life’s decisions.
At night, when these distractions are reduced and our focus is more focused, you are more likely to notice itching, which may be an annoyance you eliminated during the day.
Like it or not, some of the natural factors of aging can contribute to nighttime itching. Dry skin, decreased immune function, and neurodegeneration can all increase the irritability of itchy skin.
Insect infestations are one of the more worrisome causes of nighttime itching.
- Bed bugs are nocturnal and feed only on blood. Easier to rule out than most, you may see visible bite marks on the skin, which can cause itching at night. If this is the case, you are less likely to experience unexplained itching all over your body.
- Scabies, a form of itchy skin caused by mites, can also cause discomfort at night due to its nocturnal activity.
Allergic reaction to a new drug
Everyone reacts to new drugs differently. Sometimes, instead of seeing a drug as useful, the body sees it as an intruder and mounts an immune defense against it, leading to blisters, rashes, or hives. Re-read the symptoms of any prescription medications you may be taking to see if itchy skin is listed.
Itching is a common symptom polycythemia veraa disease caused by the bone marrow producing too many red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
The mechanism of why the two are related is still being studied, but more than 40% of people with polycythemia vera experience itching, especially after showering (or getting their skin wet).
inflammatory skin disease
Itching may also point to some common skin conditions. Note that, whatever the cause, excessive scratching can lead to further irritation or leathery patches of skin called lichen simplex chronicus.
- Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition affecting 7.2% of American adults. AD patients were found to have fatigue, lethargy, and insomnia due to pruritus, more difficulty falling asleep, and premature sleep awakening.
- Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune skin disease that causes flaky patches of skin.Another component of this common skin condition is temperature imbalance, sometimes warms the skin when it should cool naturally, i.e. during the first few hours of sleep. This combination is the perfect storm of itching and discomfort.
- Lichen planus is an immune-mediated disease that most commonly affects the inside of the mouth as well as several other body parts, including the nails, scalp. It also affects the skin, manifesting as a rash with a flat-topped purple itchy area.
Other health-related reasons
- liver disease
- chronic kidney disease
- blood disease
- Nervous system (eg, radial brachioradiasis)
- Psychological (delusions, depression, schizophrenia, stress)
- drug abuse
- restless legs syndrome
- Uremia (increased levels of urea in the blood)
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection
How to determine the cause of itching
Take a good look at your skin. If you see a localized rash, flakes, or bumps, it may be due to a skin disorder or an external cause.
If there are no obvious symptoms, your condition may be related to internal functioning, a medical condition, or a reaction to a new drug.
Thankfully, there are options that can help soothe your skin for a better night’s sleep. If you suspect that your itching is related to a more serious condition, such as liver or kidney disease, talk to your healthcare provider for treatment.
You can find some common medications at your local pharmacy.
- Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines that have sedative properties, such as Benedryl (diphenhydramine), work with the brain to reduce itching sensations. They can also cause drowsiness, which can help you fall asleep. Because of their dual action, they are more commonly used to treat nighttime itching than non-drowsy antihistamines.
- Low-dose antidepressants: mirtazapine Or doxepin has antipruritic and sedative effects. They are often used as a first-line treatment for nocturnal itching because they cover a wide range of potential causes.
- Topical steroids: Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid that is effective in reducing itching associated with skin conditions.
Some of these home remedies and treatments will help you doze off naturally or help soothe your skin.
- Not only does melatonin help with falling asleep, but it has also been shown to help regulate your circadian rhythm, thereby improving your overall sleep cycle.
- Valerian, an herb widely used as an alternative to antidepressants, is effective in reducing insomnia.
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a popular supplement used to reduce anxiety and stress, has also been found to relieve nighttime itching.
- Apply a cold compress to the itchy skin.
- Conduct psychological interventions, such as gentle yoga or breathing meditation, to reduce stress and promote sleep.
- Apple cream or petroleum based moisturizer (fragrance and alcohol free).
- Take a warm bath before bed to soothe your skin and relax your body.
- Try an oatmeal bath before bed.
You can reduce itching and improve sleep quality with some simple lifestyle adjustments:
- drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated
- Use a moisturizing, fragrance-free soap
- Use a humidifier at night to help your skin retain moisture
- Avoid clothing that is irritating to the skin, such as wool, nylon, or polyester
- Set your bedroom between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit at night
When to see a healthcare provider
If home remedies don’t work after two weeks, or if you develop other symptoms, such as weight loss, fever, or fatigue, talk to your healthcare provider.
Nighttime itching is both common and frustrating. There are many root causes of nighttime itching: the body’s natural sleep cycle, skin conditions like eczema, or more serious conditions like polycythemia vera.
Thankfully, there are several home remedies for nighttime itching, such as sleep-inducing herbs and topical steroid creams, that can help you get the rest you need for a healthy lifestyle.
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Without a good night’s sleep, your whole world will feel a little foggy. Mood rises faster, productivity falls, motivation falls. Not to mention how uncomfortable it can be for less-than-perfect looking skin. But by noticing the signs your body is giving you, no matter how frustrating they may be, you’re already on the road to restful sleep and better health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can stress cause itching?
Yes it can. The brain responds to both stress and itching. When one goes up, the other may go up too. This cycle affects those with mild stress who are diagnosed with anxiety. Both stress and itching can start the cycle.
What medical conditions can cause itching all over the body?
Quite a few medical conditions can cause itching all over the body.the most common It is liver disease, chronic kidney disease and hematopoietic system disease. Others include restless legs syndrome, uremia, diabetes, cholestasis, Hodgkin lymphoma, hyperthyroidism, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Can vitamin or mineral deficiencies cause itching?
Iron deficiency and anemia can cause itchy skin But there are usually other symptoms.
- Tiredness for no reason
- skin is paler than usual
- shortness of breath or dizziness when standing
- hair loss or headache