Irritated Skin At Night? 13 Itchy Skin Causes & How To Calm It Naturally
Oftentimes our skin becomes irritated when we get into bed at night, but what are these itchy skin causes?
Our skin does a great job of telling us when something is off. It’s common for a rash to develop when we experience an allergic reaction. For example, our cheeks blush when we indulge in one too many drinks. Or we develop an itchy rash from a lotion that contains ingredients our body doesn’t agree with. These symptoms help us understand that an imbalance is occurring in the body.
As the body’s biggest organ, our skin is tightly connected to other processes in the body, including the immune system, hormones, and even our circadian rhythms. When the skin experiences an allergic reaction it oftentimes becomes itchy. Itchy skin causes a rash, itching, swelling, and irritation.
While there are many root causes for this type of irritation and itchiness, Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream can help to immediately soothe feelings of itchiness and irritation.
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Common Causes of Itchy Skin Every Night
Increase in Skin Temperature
As our bodies begin to adapt to night time, both our skin temperature and blood flow to the skin increases. Skin temperature and blood flow changes can contribute to itchy skin.
Try your best to keep your room cool at night and use breathable clothing and blankets that will not make you overheat.
Loss of Water
Our sebum production happens in the afternoon and decreases to its lowest point at night.
As a result, our skin loses moisture in the evening and at night through a process called transepidermal water loss. This is also why your body is more receptive to lotions, recovery creams, and moisturizers at night.
Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and bring a glass of water with you to bed at night. Take advantage of the fact that your body will absorb lotions, recovery creams, and moisturizers at night too. Apply natural creams and moisturizers on clean skin before bed.
Increase in Proinflammatory Cytokines
The skin barrier is more susceptible to inflammation at night, as the body releases proinflammatory cytokines during this time. In addition, our production of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids decreases.
Inflammation in the skin often leads to itchy skin and increased symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions, which is a troublesome truth that people with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis know very well.
Natural Causes of Itchy Skin At Night
Our skin has a close relationship with our circadian rhythms or the natural biological rhythms in our body. Cardiac rhythms are what regulates our body’s functioning 24 hours a day. These natural functions include regulating body temperature, balancing fluids, and protecting the body from outside factors.
In fact, our skin cells have circadian rhythms or “clocks” of their own. This means our skin cells engage in various activities throughout the day, and their activities at night can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like itchy skin when our body’s become relaxed to lay down in bed.
At night, the body releases more cytokines causing increased inflammation. Plus the production of corticosteroids, which are hormones that help the body reduce inflammation, slows down at night too.
Specifically, circadian rhythms regulate skin temperature, barrier function, and fluid balance in the skin. This natural cause can contribute to itchy skin and restless nights.
Other Causes of Dry Itchy Skin at Night
Itchy, inflamed, irritated skin at night can be connected to a number of health issues that involve our immune system and disturbances to the body’s natural processes. Here’s a list of some of the most common health-related causes of itchy, dry, and irritated skin:
Itching due to pregnancy is very common as the blood supply to the skin increases throughout the gestational period. This itching is generally mild, and can be treated by following some pregnancy best practices, such as:
- Wear loose clothing to minimize rubbing on the skin.
- Avoid clothing made from synthetic materials, and choose natural fibers (such as cotton), instead to allow for proper air flow.
- Avoid products with strong perfumes and dyes.
- Take a cool bath and apply moisturizer in the evening to soothe itchiness.
If itching during pregnancy does not resolve, or worsens, it may be indicative of a condition known as obstetric cholestasis. This generally occurs during the later stages of pregnancy, when the hormones disrupt the normal flow of bile. Bile builds up in the liver, eventually entering the bloodstream, which causes the feeling of itchiness.
While this condition occurs in fewer than 1% of pregnant women, if it is possible that the itchiness you are experiencing may be obstetric cholestasis, you will need to be under the care of a physician, as it increases the risk of other pregnancy complications.
Another condition that may cause itchiness is prurigo of pregnancy. The cause of this condition is now known, although it may be associated with contact dermatitis. Prurigo during pregnancy often presents as small, red papules that itch.
Side effects to certain foods, alcohol, or drugs
Some individuals may experience itchiness after consuming food or alcohol, or after drug use. This is usually indicative of a mild allergy to something found in what is being ingested. In some cases, the itchiness may be accompanied by hives, as well.
If possible, it is best to try to identify the ingredient(s) that is associated with the feelings of itchiness and avoiding it. This will prevent allergy-induced feelings of itchiness.
Iron deficiency anemia (Anemia of Inflammation)
Iron deficiency anemia may develop pruritus with redness and bumps that appear like rashes. Skin may also be susceptible to bruising when there is an iron deficiency.
In order to treat the itchiness, an individual with an iron deficiency must take supplements to restore their iron level.
Skin that is dry and itchy can be a symptom of hypothyroidism. It will often be accompanied by a change in the skin texture and appearance. This is due to the slowing of metabolism caused by the production of fewer hormones, which reduces sweating and causes skin to become dry and flaky.
An individual who may suspect thyroid issues are contributing to feelings of itchiness should consult with their doctor to get a better assessment of how their thyroid is functioning.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome is often characterized by its feeling of itchiness in the legs, which is usually severe enough to prevent an individual from getting adequate sleep. RLS can also manifest as feeling of tingling, numbing, crawling, or other sensations in the legs accompanied by kicking or twitching of the legs.
As a neurological disorder, RLS symptoms, including itchiness, should be assessed by a skilled physician. Individuals suffering from RLS can avoid certain triggers for their condition, such as:
- Cut back or eliminate alcohol consumption and smoking.
- Test how caffeine impacts you – for some RLS sufferers it worsens their condition, but in others, it can help.
- Don’t over exercise.
- Avoid medications that can trigger RLS, such as some cold and allergy medications, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. It is worth checking with your physician to determine if any of your current medications (including over the counter drugs) can worsen RLS.
- Stretch your leg muscles regularly.
When kidneys begin to fail, waste builds up in your blood, causing severe itchiness. These individuals will also accumulate excessive phosphorus, making the itching sensations worsen. Dietary changes can help to reduce itchiness for these patients.
Liver or kidney disease
Liver or kidney disease is often the cause of chronic itchiness due to the increased presence of waste or bile in the bloodstream.
Nerve disorders like Multiple Sclerosis
Similar to restless leg syndrome, other neurological disorders, such as trigeminal trophic syndrome, brachioradial pruritus, nostalgia paresthetica, spinal cord lesions, and brain lesions, can cause itching sensations. When these disorders are present, the sufferer will likely not respond to traditional treatment for itching, such as antihistamines.
Medications such as capsaicin, gabapentin, thalidomide, or botulinum toxin have been considered as a way to treat symptoms of itchiness due to nerve disorders.
Bugs (bed bugs, pinworms, lice, etc.)
Many bugs, spiders, and worms can cause skin irritation and itchiness. Sometimes, it is directly from their venom; other times, their bites cause allergic reactions for insects such as spiders and mosquitos.
For parasites such as lice and bed bugs, their movement around the body can feel itchy and itching can also stem from a reaction to their bites. Having pinworms can also cause itchiness.
In cases of insect or parasite infestation, its essential to try to identify the type of parasite and then follow the standard course of treatment for ridding oneself and one’s home of the infestation.
Certain cancers like leukemia and lymphoma
Cancer itself can cause feelings of itchiness, as can its treatment. This is especially true for cancers that involve the skin, such as melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. Itching may also be experienced when cancer involves the liver, gallbladder, bile, duct, or kidneys.
Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and interferons can cause, or worsen, feelings of itchiness. It is important to discuss feelings of itchiness with your oncologist to determine the best way to treat this side effect.
Chronic stress and other psychological conditions
Stress and anxiety can contribute greatly to feelings of itchiness. The brain is always communicating with nerve endings in your skin. When a brain goes into overdrive (such as with anxiety), your nervous system may be impacted, causing itchiness.
Conversely, if you have a different condition causing itchiness, this can exacerbate the anxiety, causing both feelings to worsen. If itching and anxiety are experienced, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with a mental health professional.
Natural Treatment Before Bed
There are several natural home remedies you can use to relieve itching all over the body at night.
Because itchy skin causes can be difficult to attribute to one health issue, you can enjoy the best results with a combination of these treatments:
- Apply cool, wet compresses to the itchy areas before bed.
- Soak in a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda.
- Increase the humidity in the air of your home with a humidifier to soothe dry skin.
- Apply a non-steroid, natural treatment for dry, itchy skin just before bed.
What to Avoid If You Have Itchy Skin at Night
If you’re prone to itchy skin at night before you fall asleep avoid these 5 things that can trigger itchy skin:
- Wear clothes to bed that are not itchy. Stick to cotton or silk pajamas.
- Don’t put on any cosmetic creams or use scented soaps that may contain trigger ingredients before bedtime.
- Keep your room cool. Overheating during the night can cause flare-ups and make you itch. Try to keep your room around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Caffeine and alcohol cause blood vessels to expand and cause your skin to become warmer. Avoid these before bed.
- If your skin does itch don’t scratch it. Scratching will only irritate the skin more.
Treating Itchy Skin With Epiphany Therapeutic Body Cream
Epiphany Therapeutic Body Cream is loaded with anti-inflammatory micronutrients–which are naturally occurring in a healthy diet–to counteract uncomfortable itchy skin problems.
This steroid-free cream calms redness, itchy rash, and dry skin associated with various skin and health conditions including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, and allergic reactions. The cream is fast-acting and is not greasy while containing natural vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Enjoy Natural Relief From Uncomfortable, Itchy Skin at Night
A few months ago I visited my mother in her nursing home, and she was complaining about poor sleep. She told me her legs were itching like crazy every night, which was preventing her from getting quality sleep.
This is a classic chicken-and-egg example between her circadian rhythms and the itchiness of her legs.
Her nurses were using a generic over-the-counter lotion each day, but it wasn’t working.
I told her nurse to apply Epiphany products every night before bed. The essential micronutrients in the cream calmed her itchy skin caused by the increased release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
This easy-to-use natural remedy targeted her problem areas and relieved her symptoms. After a few days of application, my 92-year old mother was finally able to get some quality sleep.
While there is still much more research to be desired in the field of circadian rhythms, we do know our bodies are more receptive to treatments for skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis at night.
It should be noted that cytokines are a complex topic, and there is a such thing as anti-inflammatory cytokines. In this post we are talking specifically about proinflammatory cytokines as they relate to inflammation and itchy skin causes.
These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. If you experience severe allergic reactions or unbearable itching, consult with your physician before using any over-the-counter product.
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.