How Dermatologists Diagnose Causes of Itching
Generalized itching is also called “pruritus,” and Dermatologists often have to use all of their skills to diagnose the cause of pruritus. Our goal is to restore health and resilience to the skin, because pruritus really affects the whole family: when someone cannot get proper rest, the whole family dynamic is affected.
Here are some of the most common culprits behind itching or pruritus: •An underlying skin disease such as eczema (atopic dermatitis) or psoriasis can often be diagnosed by having a Dermatologist examine the skin. At times, we take a skin test called a biopsy to send into the lab, to help make the specific diagnosis. •Fungal infections are common causes of itching. We sometimes take a skin scraping to pin this type of diagnosis down, for a test called a KOH or a fungal culture, because fungal infections can often be cured with antifungal creams or tablets.
The person in the photo above is suffering from a lot of itching caused by eczema. The most common locations on the body are the neck, face, fronts of the arms and legs, and the back and chest.
•Reactions to drugs or to medications can certainly cause pruritus. It helps to bring a list of all of your over-the-counter and prescription medicines to your Dermatologic appointment. •Skin allergies can certainly trigger itching. I am a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, so I offer allergy patch testing to help evaluate for skin allergies, the most common culprits being nickel, preservatives, fragrances, components of latex, or even dyes. Such testing requires that we put patches onto the patient’s back, then look for reactions two and four days later, so this testing requires setting up three appointments within one week.
•Itching can also certainly be triggered by different types of skin cancer, so we Dermatologists at times recommend a skin biopsy test to help to check for skin cancer. •And sometimes itching can be triggered by internal causes, such as liver or kidney problems, or even changes in iron levels in the blood. These trigger factors often become apparent with standard blood tests.
Sometimes the cause is simply dry skin. In 2016, after 26 years of practicing Dermatology, I incorporated a company called Big River Silk Skincare Inc., our logo being SCIENCE SIMPLIFYING SKINCARE. We use organic and natural ingredients to make five lines of moisturizers and soaps to help people achieve healthy skincare (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com).
So the moral of the story is “Never Itch in Silence.” Consider getting an evaluation done. George Woodbury Jr MD Dermatologist at Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates and President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc. 8143 Walnut Grove Road Cordova TN 38018 1-901-753-0168 Info@rheumderm.com