What Are the Causes of Severe Itching?


There are many causes of severe itching. Itching can manifest itself in a single location, or it can present as generalized body-wide itching. Causes of severe itching range from a mild allergic reaction to life-threatening systemic involvement.

Allergic Reaction

  • A common cause of severe itching is allergic reaction. Contact dermatitis is caused by irritants such as detergents, soaps, fabrics or chemicals. A physician can recommend the appropriate topical or oral preparation for this condition. Medications such as antibiotics can cause itching as well.


  • Causes of severe itching can be related to insects and parasites. Bee stings and mosquito and spider bites are common causes of local irritation that cause itching. Lice and pinworm infestation can also cause severe itching.


  • Pityriasis rosea is a viral infection that can cause severe itching. This condition can initially begin with a salmon color patch on the trunk. Pityriasis rosea usually does not cause complications, and treatment includes anti-itch medications. Chicken pox and shingles can also cause severe itching.


  • Causes of severe itching can include rashes. Rashes can be caused by many sources and should be medically evaluated before self treatment.


  • More important causes of severe itching are related to systemic disorders. Liver disease accompanied by jaundice, hepatitis, anemia and kidney disease can cause itching. Jaundice is a serious condition that causes yellowing of the eyes and skin.


  • While most causes of severe itching are not serious, some can be ominous. Early diagnosis is important in implementing appropriate treatment.

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