Top 7 Hidden Sources of Itchy Skin
Itching is your body's way of protecting you from a perceived threat or toxin. Similar to when a bee stings you. However, an overactive immune system from a breached skin or gut barrier combined with chronic use of steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines can cause your immune system to be in a hyperactive state so targetting the root cause is key. Here are the root causes of itching and how to target it holistically.
Common Causes of Itchy Skin
Your skin is being irritated by something internally or externally. When your immune system is overactive, it can also overact to relatively harmless substances so they key is in balancing the immune system. Yet when your skin barrier or gut barrier is constantly breached it puts the immune system in a hyperactive state.
Internally, problems tend to occur when the gut barrier is damaged through overly processed foods, sugar, alcohol and gluten leading to leaky gut. Once this occurs, undigested food particles can more easily enter the bloodstream causing an overreaction. Overuse of antibiotics and antihistamines effects the proper function of the immune system and its ability to determine what is and isn't an irritant.
Externally, some of the top irritants include dust, grass, fragrances, nickel, pollution, personal care products, household cleaners, pets, detergents, pesticides, heavy metals, deodorants, colognes and air fresheners, furnishings, clothing, bedding and towels. Some are rightfully toxic yet some are harmless so balancing the immune system and healing both skin and gut barriers is key.
Temperature also effects itching. Overly cold conditions can dry and crack the skin. Overly hot and humid conditions can lead to sweating, skincare products overly occluding sweat ducts and increased contact with irritating materials and clothing touching the skin. Heat opens the pores to release sweat but this also makes it more prone to irritants as the skin has increased penetration. Additionally there is often a staphylococcus aureus bacterial imbalance on those with skin problems and they can also secrete a biofilm that occludes sweat ducts leading to itching. Using too much moisturiser when it is hot can also irritate the skin as the products are effecting the ability of the skin to release heat.
Mental, emotional and spiritual issues can also weaken the immune system and the brain and gut are connected, exacerbating itching.
How to target the root cause of itchy skin
It is important to remove the external irritants of the skin, balance the immune system, healt the gut and promote mental wellbeing in order to target the root cause of itchy skin. It is important to review everything coming in contact with your skin. We also developed The Hypoallergenic Diet to help you balance your immune system.
You can have a skin prick test to see what you are irritated by although this can change over time. Pay attention to when you itch, the time and the activites you were doing to help uncover the root cause. For example, if you often itch after showering it could be the water temperature, towels, personal care products etc. If it's after the gym, perhaps a surface spray they use.
You can also get a blood test to understand if you have any allergies which means your body is producing IgE antibodies in response to certain foods. Intolerances are that which you do aren't digesting very well but don't cause antibody production. Again this can change especially when you heal the gut. Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. If they cause bloating, tiredness and lack of energy then they are likely not resonating well with your body.
How to deal with an immediate flare of itchy skin
If you are itchy or flaring, it is best to run the affected area under cool water or take a quick luke warm shower using cotton towels. Use a soft sponge over the affected area and gently brush it. This will help to remove the likely contact irritant. Pat dry and apply a thin layer of our moisturiser. If it's humid, don't apply anything. Allow your skin to dry completely before going outside. Wear loose breathable clothing made from natural fibres and ideally not in direct contact with the skin so your skin can regulate its temperature more easily and not be in contact with potentially irritating materials.
If you are extremely itchy you can make a paste from our Healing Bioclay which has Bentonite and Green clay; antibacterial, pore cleansing and soothing. Make a thick paste and apply it to the affected area for 10-20 minutes before washing off. If you are still extremely itchy you can take a non drowsy antihistamine (loratadine aka Claratyne) but its use should be limited for extreme situations as overly frequent use can affect your bodys ability to determine what is and isn't an irritant.
Play some calming music, drink plenty of water and ensure the temperature is moderate.
Why am I itchier at night?
There are many physiological changes that occur in your body at night, including changes in thermoregulation, skin barrier function and fluid balance. Your body regulates its core temperature to be lowest at night. It does this by increasing blood flow to the skin, which is what allows the heat in your body to dissipate. A rise in skin temperature can make you feel itchy especially if the room temperature or sheets are too warm.
Your body’s release of certain substances also varies by time of day. At night, you release more cytokines, which increase inflammation. Meanwhile, production of corticosteroids, hormones that reduce inflammation, slows. On top of these factors, your skin loses more water at night so it’s ability to retain moisture is also at its lowest at night. Your skin's ability to retain moisture is also lowest at night.
To stop itching make sure you are not using any irritating personal care products before sleeping. Shower in warm water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as they widen the blood vessels and send more blood to the skin.
Smoking marijuana too close before bed time also affects the depth of sleep quality. Wear light breathable clothes made of cotton or sleep naked. Use layers of sheets using natural materials rather than one large heavy blanket so you can wash them more frequently and control the temperature as needed as overheating can cause itching. Allow your skin to be completely dry from moisturisers before sleeping. Ensure the right amount of ventilation and air flow to ensure your body doesn't overheat.
Use a bluelight filter at night on your screens, turn your phone on airplane mode, place it away from your head and turn off the router to reduce EMF exposure for a deeper sleep.