Itching is an annoying and unpleasant phenomenon in itself and at the same time constitutes a source of embarrassment both for the gesture of scratching and for the unsightly aspects that appear on the skin such as red skin, lesions and wounds caused by the nails, up to the appearance of scabs that leave permanent marks, therefore scars .
It is easy to understand how much worse all this is considerably when the itching is widespread in several areas of the body, or even worse if it extends to its entire surface, perhaps accompanied by blisters, dots, erythema , blisters, rashes and wounds.
Widespread itchingit can affect specific areas, for example those covered by hair and hair in case of pediculosis or extend to the entire surface of the body in case of infections or systemic diseases.
It is a rather common disorder and in the vast majority of cases it is a phenomenon due to contact with irritants , or allergens , which may be contained in personal hygiene products, or which make up the fabric of clothing and accessories.
Equally often widespread itching all over the bodyit can be triggered by excessive sweating therefore frequent and in the hot months or as a result of sporting activity or even a dehydration of the skin, typical of the winter months. In many other cases, however, especially in children and immunosuppressed subjects, widespread itching is due to viral or bacterial infections that are accompanied by other manifestations such as fever, joint pain and the appearance of pustules, blisters and blisters on the skin.
In other circumstances, however, widespread itchingand consequent to systemic pathological states of clinical relevance, therefore the invitation is not to underestimate the condition. An itchy sensation is usually a rather trivial phenomenon that should not cause great concern, but if it persists for a long time, it occurs throughout the body and other local and systemic symptoms are added together, and it is necessary to bring the problem to the attention of a specialized doctor.
Provided the main notions on itching , on its manifestations and symptoms that can accompany this discomfort, we can see more specifically how they are divided and what are the main causes at the origin of the itching spread over the whole body .
What are the most common causes of widespread itching Itching is one of
the most common nonspecific symptoms that can be felt and finding the triggering cause is not always easy, especially when multiple mechanisms are involved that can alter at the same time. Let us now list the most common causes. Physiological Causes
The widespread itching throughout the body can be a completely natural phenomenon linked to the physiological hormonal alterations that accompany the phases of the menstrual cycle (ovulation, menstruation and menopause) and pregnancy. The rise in hormone levels can cause vasodilation, therefore increased blood flow to the skin and consequent itching in the legs , arms
, back , face , abdomen and chest;
This group includes a large number of skin conditions which overall affect a good percentage of the population. Very commonly, widespread itching occurs following contact with irritants or substances that contain allergens.
This is the case with many personal hygiene products that do not respect the physiological pH of the skin and contain fragrances that are classified as allergens and even more so with many household and surface cleaners that contain irritating substances.
The itchand often also caused by contact with the synthetic fabrics with which the garments are made, therefore it is recommended to use garments made of cotton or natural fibers. The cases described are included in irritative contact dermatitis and allergic dermatitis . There are also forms of atopic dermatitis , a condition triggered by multiple factors, from simple skin rubbing (perhaps when using a rough towel to dry off after a shower) to reduced or increased sweating. In this case, in addition to the widespread itching all over the body , other symptoms and signs are associated such as red skin, papule formation, dry and dehydrated skin. Psoriasis
_it is a pathology that deserves a more in-depth treatment among the possible causes of widespread itching . It is an autoimmune disease, of a genetic nature, to which are added other predisposing factors such as stress, hormonal alterations, drug intake and bacterial infections, in which there is a subversion of the cellular differentiation process which leads to a thickening of the epidermis . The skin is covered with pustules that cause severe itching, and with more or less extensive areas in which whitish scales appear.
Insect bites can result in skin manifestations due to the release of toxins and irritants, causing widespread itching, swelling and the appearance of red pustules at the injection site that can extend.
Sometimes the sting can trigger real allergic reactions due to the release of histamine which lead to difficulty breathing, swelling, skin redness, increased heart rate, profuse sweating and a swollen tongue sensation. In these cases it is necessary to immediately contact 118 or go to the nearest emergency room because the person’s life is in danger.
The term parasitosis refers to the infestation of the organism by parasites, and in the specific case of widespread itching, we focus on skin parasites and skin appendages (hair, hair, nails).
The most widespread and known parasitosis is pediculosis, that is lice , which are transmitted by direct contact with the people affected by the infestation. These parasites are localized in the areas covered by hair and hair, then the head , pubis, armpits, arms, legs and chest, triggering a strong and persistent itch.
Another parasitic infestation, albeit less widespread, is scabies caused by a mite that deposits its eggs in the epidermis, and once hatched the parasites begin to feed by digging burrows in the skin.
The symptoms felt are severe itching that does not find relief and which intensifies at night and which is accompanied by the appearance of pustules, vesicles and blisters on the skin and skin abrasions. The areas most affected by the phenomenon are the hands, feet, groin, genitals and armpits.
This is a very common condition due mostly to a lack of iron in the blood which determines a lower supply of oxygen to the tissues, especially in the hands and feet, giving a sensation of mild but constant and prolonged itching.
It refers in particular to the pathologies that cause the degeneration of the sensory nerves. One example is multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disease that causes the destruction of the myelin sheath that lines the nerves, an event that leads to a defect in the transmission of the nerve impulse resulting in motor deficits (and therefore progressive disability) and sensory deficits (insensitivity to heat and cold, widespread itching, tingling) .
Diffuse itching may have no organic cause, but may be the consequence of a period of severe stress in which the immune system is weakened. In these cases it is necessary to consult a specialist because this is a situation that can degenerate and evolve into even more debilitating pathologies.
The most frequent cause ofwidespread itching in children and linked to so-called exanthematous diseases, of which measles, chicken pox , fifth and sixth diseases and scarlet fever are a typical example .
There is the appearance of pustules spread throughout the body that cause severe itching and which are accompanied by fever, joint pain, chills and loss of appetite.
Generally these diseases resolve themselves, antibiotics have no use being those just listed diseases of viral origin, but you can administer (only on the advice of the pediatrician) drugs that help to counteract the symptoms, such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
This type of infections can also be contracted in adulthood, but in this case the consequences can be much more serious, therefore it is advisable to promptly consult a doctor if fever, pustules and itching appear concomitantly.
The widespread itching all over the body can also originate from problems affecting the liver and biliary tract. This is the case of cholestasis, conditions in which the bile fails to flow properly into the intestine and enters the bloodstream, causing widespread reactions in the dermis and resulting in persistent itching.
Diagnosis and therapies for diffuse itching: what to do
Diffuse itchingit can affect certain areas of the body, or affect its entire surface, it can be persistent or manifest itself with sudden and short-lasting attacks, it can be accompanied by burning , skin redness and dry skin, and still result in the appearance of pustules, vesicles, fever and chills.
Having seen the symptoms and the vastness of causes that can be hidden behind this disorder, the doubt arises as to how to behave in order to arrive at an adequate assessment of the condition, without underestimating the symptom but not even immediately considering it as a pathological signal.
If itching occurs after using a new personal hygiene product, wearing a synthetic item of clothing, or coming into contact with an irritant, it is usually enough to apply moisturizing and soothing creams and resort to a few simple ones. precautions such as the use of detergents that respect the pH of the skin and that do not contain perfume allergens, and use clothing made of cotton or natural fibers. In a short time, the itch will usually go away on its own.
Widespread itching can also occur due to sweat, therefore in the summer months or following a sports training session. Also in this case it is not necessary to worry, it is sufficient to maintain proper body hygiene by washing away the sweat, taking care not to use too cold or too hot water and to dry by dabbing the surface of the body with a soft cotton towel, without make rubbing.
When instead the itchand persistent, intense, and is accompanied by fever, or the appearance of pustules and vesicles, skin lesions, scabs, burning and skin alterations, it is necessary to undergo a specialist dermatology visit. The dermatologist is the only professional figure who possesses the adequate knowledge to diagnose the cause of the itch and suggest a therapeutic strategy. We therefore invite you not to carry out self-diagnosis based on the comparison of images found on the internet and to be wary in any case of advice and remedies found on the web.
The dermatologist, having ascertained the symptoms perceived by the patient, their manifestation, the onset and the intensity, inspects the skin verifying the signs, the integrity, the color, the extent of the lesions and the presence of pustules, bubbles or vesicles .
On the basis of the data collected, the dermatologist can indicate the need for a blood sample, through which to view a series of values:
- transaminases and bilirubin , the alteration of which indicates alterations in the liver;
- blood sugar ;
- iron , to check if there is a state of anemia ;
- signs of infection ( elevated leukocyte values ).
Other analyzes may include the swab of a vesicle to identify the pathogen and thus establish a correct antibiotic treatment. On the other hand, if the suspicion tends towards a neurological pathology, the most clarifying examination in general is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The treatments are generally of a pharmacological nature and involve the administration of active ingredients both at a topical (local) level by means of creams and lotions, and at a systemic level, anti-inflammatories (cortisone), painkillers, antibiotics in case of bacterial infections and antiparasitics in case of scabies or pediculosis. Therapy depends on the triggering cause and must be established by the doctor during the diagnosis.