What’s making me so itchy?

What’s making me so itchy?

Q. My skin feels itchy all over, not just in one or two places. What could that mean?

A. The likeliest culprit is either dry skin (especially if the weather is cold or very dry) or allergies. In those cases, steps that can help include using mild soap, bathing or showering in warm (not hot) water, and using plenty of over-the-counter moisturizing lotion. Avoiding harsh chemicals and scratchy fabric can also help, as can using a humidifier to put more moisture in the air. Allover, or "generalized," itching can also be a side effect of certain medications, including commonly used ones such as ACE inhibitors and cholesterol-lowering statins, as well as of radiation treatment. And in rare cases it might indicate a systemic problem, such as kidney disease or even cancer. So if the simple steps above don’t help your itching, see your doctor.

This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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