Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Where do itches come from?"
I am 32, a woman, and compulsive scratcher. My arm itches A LOT. Where do these itches come from?
Sensation of an itch, or pruritus as it is medically known, is a fairly common condition. Everyone will experience is at some point. That being said, when it becomes persistent or severe (as it appears it has in your case) then it requires medical attention. I would recommend that you see your primary care doctor to have this evaluated. He or she can rule out a few potential causes as well as hopefully treat. To answer your question, itches can come from various locations. The most common source is the skin or connective tissue itself. Skin inflammation, or dermatitis, can cause itchiness. Conditions like xerosis (dry skin), psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and many other could be the culprit. Another source of itchiness is if there are deposits in the skin. Rarely, liver problems can cause itchy skin. A third category would be itching caused primarily by nerve irritation. Nerves can be damaged or injured (known as a neuropathy) and subsequently develop the sensation of itching. Finally, some itchiness is psychogenic -- meaning that your mind is playing tricks on you. These causes should be evaluated. Regardless of cause, there are many treatments available. See your doctor. If required, you may need to see a skin specialist (or dermatologist).
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