Home Care Awareness: Itchy Skin
Posted: 8/4/2016 4:23 PM by
Everyone deals with itchiness on their skin every now and then. Technically a pain response, itchiness is the skin's way of telling you that there is something wrong. While much of the time this "something wrong" is mild and easily addressed, if chronically itchy skin has become a part of your home care journey with your elderly loved ones, you know how frustrating, and potentially dangerous, it can be. Itchy skin on its own may not cause any true problems for your parents' health, but if your parents are prone to scratching, pulling, rubbing, or tugging on their skin when it itches, their actions could cause tears, cuts, or abrasions in the skin. They can then introduce bacteria and germs into the skin through their nails or whatever other object they are using to soothe the itch, potentially leading to a serious infection or illness. Understanding the cause behind the itchy skin and addressing it properly can help you to ease the discomfort your loved ones are experiencing, and protect them from possible damage to their skin and overall health and well being that can be caused by itching and scratching.
Itchy skin can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including:
• Dry skin caused by environmental issues such as temperature or overexposure to water
• Allergic reactions leading to hives
• Internal diseases such as liver disease, kidney failure, thyroid problems, and some cancers
• Dietary deficiencies, particularly iron
• Nerve disorders such as diabetes mellitus and multiple sclerosis
• Reactions to environmental contact such as poison ivy
• Reactions to medications, both prescription and over the counter
Because there are so many possible causes of itchy skin, it is important that you identify the one that your parents are dealing with so that you can ensure that they undergo the proper course of treatment to address the issue and get lasting relief.
If your loved ones are complaining of itchy skin, some things that you and their in home health care services provider should look out for include:
• Cracks or visibly dry areas
• Scaly texture
• Bumpy texture
• Leathery feeling on the skin
If your seniors experience any of the following, it is time for you to get in touch with their doctor because it could be an indication that they are going through something more serious:
• You do not know where the itching is coming from, particularly if there is a visual skin reaction.
• The itching continues for two weeks or more.
• Home remedies and self-care do not sufficiently reduce the itching.
• The itching is severe enough to diminish quality of life, such as disabling you from completing household tasks, participating in regular leisure activities, or sleeping.
• Expands to a large portion of the body or the entirety of the body.
• Comes along with other symptoms such as fever, flushing, fatigue, weight loss, or significant changes in bathroom habits.
If the itching is minor and not accompanied by these issues, try some of the following self-care techniques to ease the discomfort:
• Discourage long baths and the use of very hot water in the shower or bath.
• Make sure that they properly hydrate their skin daily using moisturizers that do not contain water, alcohol, or other irritating ingredients.
• Use indoor climate control measures moderately and be sure to use a humidifier to replace moisture in the air when using the heat.
• Protect their skin from the cold when outside, especially if it is windy.
• Use over the counter itch relievers to provide immediate temporary relief.