9 Hidden Causes of Dry Skin | How to Calm Your Symptoms with Vitamins For Itchy Skin
Itchy skin, medically referred to as pruritus, is a very common condition that virtually everyone will experience to some degree throughout their lives. However, in some cases, itchy skin can become a chronic condition and can begin to interfere with your daily life.
If this is the case for you, the first step is to get to the bottom of what could be causing itching, redness, flaking, and other related symptoms to bubble up to the surface.
Itchy, irritated skin can come from personal care products or the weather. Deficiency of vitamins for itchy skin can also cause irritation.
Itchy skin can present differently for individuals, but is generally (although not always) accompanied by one or more of the following characteristics:
- A rash
- Bumps, spots, or blisters
- Dry, cracked skin
- Leathery or scaly skin
In severe cases, this itchiness can involve your whole body and distract you from your daily tasks or cause you to lose sleep. In order to resolve the itchiness, the root cause of it must be identified. While working to identify the root cause of your skin irritation, Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream can work to soothe the symptoms of the irritation.
Hidden Causes of Dry Skin
Once you understand more about the root cause or causes of your itchy skin, you can take steps to better manage it and possibly even prevent new flare-ups from happening in the future.
Outlined below are nine less-obvious causes of itchy skin that could be contributing to adverse skin reactions. Here’s what you can do to calm and soothe itching and irritation.
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema, is one of the most common chronic skin conditions, affecting more than 30 million Americans (National Eczema Association). Although it is more common in children (10-20%),1-3% of adults also suffer from atopic dermatitis.
Dermatologists have still not found a direct cause of atopic dermatitis. Though through research, they’ve found that the condition is not contagious and is most likely linked to family genes.
Their studies have found that children are more likely to develop the chronic skin condition if their parents have eczema or asthma. And almost 50% of the people suffering from atopic dermatitis also have asthma.
Patches of itchy, flaking skin are one of the most common symptoms of eczema, although redness, dryness, oozing, swelling, and cracking are also typically seen as well.
If your skin is itchy and uncomfortable due to atopic dermatitis, there are a few things you can do to help soothe your skin and reduce itching and other symptoms.
- Reducing physical and emotional stress. Stress can cause skin irritation to worsen and spread to other areas of the body.
- Do not scratch the impacted area. This will worsen feelings of itchiness.
- Using a gentle, nourishing moisturizer that is free of fragrances, preservatives, parabens, and other irritating ingredients. Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream has been specifically formulated to include naturally-derived essential micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E to nourish the skin without aggravating other symptoms.
- Avoiding known eczema triggers like the sun, exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures, certain foods, and scratchy clothing materials.
- Calm underlying inflammation with a product like Eksem, rather than relying on risky topical or oral steroids. It is important to moisturize at least twice a day.
- Avoid skin irritants in your personal care products and laundry detergent. Those without harsh chemicals and fragrances reduce irritation to the affected skin.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies: Vitamins for Dry, Itchy Skin
In some cases, symptoms of itchy, flaky skin are signs of vitamin and nutritional deficiencies.
Itchy skin can come from vitamin deficiency from nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not getting enough of these nutrients in your diet and you’re not taking supplements for itchy skin, you might notice patches of itchy skin and a dull, lackluster complexion.
You can stock up on foods that contain these nutrients or add vitamins for itchy skin to your diet to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily values of these important substances.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli. Foods high in vitamin C include fruits like mango, papaya, pineapple, and cantaloupe. Get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet with fish such as mackerel, salmon, oysters, and sardines. Get a healthy balance of omega-3 meats, fruits, and vegetables for healthy amounts of vitamins and healthy skin. Your diet may also be supplemented with daily vitamins to meet your requirements. If nutritional deficiencies are the source of your itchy skin, supplementing with foods or vitamins that address the deficiency can help combat the problem.
Keep in mind that the right topical products that contain vitamins you need to soothe itchy skin may also help to replenish your skin adequately.
Other articles and resources
- Shop for Natural Treatment for Dry, Itchy Skin
- Cold Weather Irritating Your Skin? Find a Natural Solution for Calming Itch and Eczema
- Can Hormones Cause Itchy Skin and Eczema
When most people think of allergies, a runny nose and watery eyes are probably some of the first symptoms that come to mind.
However, your skin can also experience allergic reactions when it comes into contact with an irritating substance. This condition is called contact dermatitis (Mayo Clinic).
It generally only appears on the portion of skin that comes into contact with the allergen, although it can be triggered when something enters your body through foods, flavorings, medicine, or medical and dental procedures.
The signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
- Severe itching of the skin
- Dry, cracked, and scaly looking skin
- Oozing blisters
- Swelling and burning of the skin
- Hives, or urticaria, which appear as raised, itchy bumps that are reddish normally, but turn white when pressed upon.
Unlike atopic dermatitis, the symptoms of contact dermatitis should completely go away as soon as your skin is no longer exposed to the allergen and has had time to heal.
Some of the most common causes of skin allergies include:
- Cleaning products
- Nickel used in jewelry
- Personal care products like body wash, hair dye, makeup, lotions, deodorant
- Plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac
- Products that are reactant to the sun like oral medicine and sunscreen
- Airborne substances, such as ragweed pollen and spray insecticides.
- Jobs that put you at higher risk for contact dermatitis including dental employees, health care providers, hairdressers, agricultural workers, construction workers, and mechanics
If you think you could have a skin allergy, first try to determine the source of the problem and wash your skin to remove the allergen. Try your best to avoid further contact with the source.
If you are going to be in the presence of the rash-causing substance again, make sure to wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles and use a barrier cream to provide a protective layer for your skin.
If skin irritation does occur, you may treat it with the following actions:
- Gently wash your skin.
- Apply a soothing moisturizing cream to help calm inflammation.
- Apply cold, wet compresses to the rash to soothe the skin.
- If the itch persists, you may consider using hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion or Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream to further soothe the itch.
- Take an oral antihistamine.
- Take an oatmeal bath.
At the onset of menopause, hormone levels begin to fluctuate, which can trigger a set of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and itchy skin.
In particular, estrogen levels begin to decline, which, in turn, affects the body’s ability to produce collagen and lowers the skin’s ability to draw in and retain moisture (Menopause Centre of Australia). These shifts in estrogen levels prior to and during menopause leave your skin more vulnerable to irritation, redness, and bumps.
The itchy skin usually appears on or around the face, neck, chest, back, and the limbs.
If menopause could be the underlying cause of itching and dry skin, consider upgrading your moisturizer to a product like Eksem that will help to nourish and moisturize your skin. Using moisturizer regularly can also help to rejuvenate the skin and decrease itchiness for menopausal women.
Following a balanced, healthy diet and exercise routine may also help to curb menopause symptoms, as well as taking vitamins for itchy skin such as flaxseed, vitamin E, omega 3, and vitamin B.
This is especially true about omega 3 fatty acids. During this period when natural oils are lost, increasing these fats in your diet can help to replace some of the lost oils and keep your skin better hydrated.
5. Changes in the Weather
Itchy skin can appear due to changes in the weather. Healthy skin is a barrier for your body and works to protect you from outside threats, including the summer heat and the winter cold and during seasonal changes, the skin can become irritated.
During the summer months, hot, humid weather can cause a sensation known as “prickly heat”. The hot weather triggers dry and itchy skin that can lead to scratching and cause even more irritation.
In the summer heat, follow these helpful tips during itchy skin flare-ups:
- Wear soft clothing that is breathable and also prevents skin from being exposed to direct sunlight.
- The sun can cause different reactions to people with eczema. Some find relief from UV exposure, while others are triggered by the sun. Know how your skin reactions to direct sunlight.
- Don’t get too sweaty. The salt in sweat can dry out your skin causing a stinging sensation.
- Clean your skin after sun exposure. Breakouts are common after spending time in the sun, but cleaning your skin after exposure can help to reduce the risk of heat rash.
- Rinse your skin of allergens such as pollen, sweat, and chlorine.
- Test sunscreen on a small patch of skin before you use it on your entire body. The chemicals in sunscreen can dry your skin and trigger eczema symptoms.
- Try to avoid strenuous outdoor activities during peak hours of sunlight, typically between 10 am and 2 pm.
While summer weather causes “prickly skin”, cold, winter weather causes “winter itch” producing similar itchy skin symptoms in the fall and winter months. This is due to the dry air that is predominant during the winter months.
In the winter cold, follow these tips to soothe itchy skin:
- Make sure you are protecting your skin when you head outdoors in cold, windy weather.
- Keep a humidifier in your bedroom or office to help add moisture back into the air and your skin.
- Don’t cause your body to overheat when bundling up in heavy winter clothing.
- Stay away from clothing that can cause your skin to become itchy like wool.
- Don’t take showers that are too hot. Even in the cold months, bathe in lukewarm water. Minimize your time in the shower and bath to reduce stripping your skin of moisture while cleaning it.
- Continue to use sunscreen. It is commonly thought to be unnecessary during the winter, but many people experience similar exposure levels to UV rays during the winter compared to summer.
- Use a daily moisturizer, or upgrade to Eksem, to keep your skin hydrated during the dry parts of the year.
6. Certain Medications
Red, itchy skin is a common side effect when taking certain medications. If you’ve just started a new prescription and have suddenly developed a skin rash, the two are likely connected.
Some medications that are known to cause itchy skin for some individuals include:
- Certain antibiotics
- Aspirin and other painkillers
- ACE inhibitors
Any time you’re experiencing an adverse reaction to a particular medication, you need to talk to your doctor to determine if an alternative is available. If not, it’s crucial to weigh the risks versus rewards of continuing the medication. If the medication is not completely necessary but is causing severe skin dryness and irritation, it is likely a good idea to stop the medication and care for your skin reaction.
In some instances, a lower dosage or a different brand of medication could help to reduce side effects while still providing the same medical benefits.
Most Americans are currently living in a state of chronic stress. This stress comes from bills, children, poor nutrition, family, and jobs. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to health issues including headaches, high blood pressure, poor gut health, and skin conditions like itching and dryness. Unfortunately, when stress causes itchiness, the itchiness itself causes more stress – compounding the problem.
Numerous studies have found a connection between emotional stress and flare-ups of skin conditions (Acta dermato-venereologica). It is believed that the chronic stress unnecessarily activates nerve fibers in the skin, which can cause an itching sensation.
Take steps to better manage stress so that your body is not constantly engaging its inflammatory response system. This response triggers skin reactions and other adverse effects.
If you suspect that stress may be inducing feelings of itchiness, a mental health professional can be contacted to help you manage stress and anxiety. You can also take steps to manage stress at home.
One way to do this is to make sure you’re getting enough exercise on a regular basis. Try something as simple as taking a walk around the block during your lunch break.
Many people also find that listening to music, having a balanced diet, meditating, journaling, and spending time in nature are effective ways to reduce and better manage chronic stress as well.
8. Your Personal Care Products
Some of the most common ingredients that are included in your everyday personal care items can be irritating to the skin and cause itchiness and dryness. These products include makeup, body washes, detergents, fragrances, and any other care product that comes in contact with your skin.
Products that foam or bubble contain ingredients called alkyl glucosides that have been shown to cause significant skin irritation. These items include body wash, laundry detergents, and shampoo.
Colored products can also cause a skin reaction. Drug and cosmetic colorants are common ingredients in personal care items and can cause contact dermatitis. It is possible for any colorant to cause symptoms, but the most common are reds and yellows.
If you can’t seem to find the cause of your itching skin, you might need to take a closer look at the ingredient list of your personal care products. Make sure they do not contain potentially irritating or even harmful ingredients.
Even some moisturizers and other products marketed toward sensitive skin types contain irritating ingredients. Look for naturally-derived formulas that are free of fragrances, preservatives, parabens, and petrolatum.
Because it is so gentle on the skin, Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream can be used as frequently as needed throughout the day to help relieve itching, dryness, and flaking.
Feelings of itchiness are very common during pregnancy. Similar to menopausal itchiness, itchiness during pregnancy is often thought to be caused by raised hormone levels. Later in pregnancy, it can also be caused by the stretching of skin over your abdomen as the baby grows. While most itchiness during pregnancy is normal and not a cause for concern, severe itching can indicate an underlying liver condition known as Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis. If the itchiness is not alleviated by routine treatments as outlined below, then you should consult with your obstetrician to perform liver function tests.
Mild itchiness experienced during pregnancy can be minimized by:
- Regularly applying moisturizer or a product such as Eksem. Focus on your growing abdomen.
- Wearing loose clothing that does not irritate the skin.
- Wearing clothing made of natural fibers (such as cotton), which are more breathable than synthetic materials.
- Take cool, oatmeal baths.
- Avoid personal care products and laundry detergents with strong fragrances.
Soothe the Itch
Depending on what the root of your itchy skin problem is, there are various ways to soothe that itchy, dry irritation. Once you understand where the irritation is originating from you can better understand how to treat your symptoms.
Be sure to take vitamins for itchy skin, keep your stress levels low, and gently nourish and protect your skin with Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream.
When to see your Physician
Sometimes, itchy skin can be a symptom of an underlying illness; this is especially true for nerve disorders, psychiatric diseases, cancer (due to the illness itself or its treatment) and some internal diseases.
If your itchy skin doesn’t respond to any of the home treatments outlined here and lasts for more than 2 weeks, it is good to consult with your physician on other potential causes.
About the Authors
William Goolsbee has spent his career in Life Sciences including leading roles in drug development in immunology and genetic medicine. Recent senior positions include Chairman of the Board at Sarepta Therapeutics and Founder and CEO at Metrodora Therapeutics.
Dr. Gil Price
Gil Price M.D. is the Chief Medical Officer at the Propharma Group, where he provides medical supervision for all clinical trials. He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of Drug Safety Solutions, where he oversaw safety monitoring for drugs in clinical development. Dr. Price also served as the Director of Clinical Development at Medimmune Oncology and Director of Medical Affairs at Glaxo.