There is nothing like waking up feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep when we feel ready to take on the day with energy and enthusiasm. Getting a full night’s sleep boosts the immune system, strengthens the heart, increases mood and productivity, and improves memory. If you are not getting a good night’s sleep, it may suggest an underlying condition.
Nocturnal pruritus, the professional term for itchy skin at night, is a common condition. It can severe enough to prevent a full night’s sleep. There are many possible causes of itchy skin at night, which we will consider in this blog post. The causes may be natural or could be related to more serious health concerns.
Here, we will highlight 5 potential causes of itchy skin at night. These include bugs, skin diseases, natural causes, thyroid problems, and cancer. We will also look at treatment options for each of these causes.
1. Bed Bugs
Even the term ‘bed bug’ can be enough to make our skin crawl. Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on human or animal blood. As the name suggests, they can live in beds as well as other household locations such as carpets, furniture, and clothing. They are most active during the night.
Bed bugs really are tiny. They generally range from 1 to 7 millimeters long and are reddish-brown in color. With their flat, oval bodies, they are not particularly handsome when seen under a microscope.
While only rarely is a bed bug’s bite dangerous, it can be incredibly itchy. It is possible that bed bug bites can cause an allergic reaction or become infected. Before feeding on your skin, a bed bug will excrete a very small amount of anesthetic, meaning you won’t feel anything and it may take a few days for symptoms to appear.
The symptoms of a bed bug bite are redness and swelling on the skin, itchiness, and possibly a burning sensation. It is not recommended that you scratch a bed bug bite, as this could cause it to bleed or become infected.
In addition to bed bugs, insects like lice, scabies, and pinworms may also be the cause of itchy skin at night.
Bed bug relief treatments include anti-itch cream, an oral antihistamine, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In order to prevent or eliminate bed bugs, it is recommended to vacuum regularly, wash bed clothing at a high temperature, and fill gaps around the baseboards in your house with caulking. For more, check out these signs of bed bugs.
2. Natural Causes
For many people, the causes of itchy skin at night are often the body’s natural mechanisms. Examples of the natural causes of itchy skin at night include:
- Natural circadian rhythms
- Fluid balance
- Temperature regulation
- Barrier protection
For example, both the body’s temperature and the blood flow to the skin increase in the nighttime, which warms the skin. This rise in temperature may make your skin feel itchier at nighttime.
Another possible cause here relates to the fact that our skin loses water at night, making it feel itchier. Finally, given that there are fewer distractions in the night compared to the day, any itching that we experience is likely to be more intense and pronounced.
3. Skin Diseases
Skin diseases that can cause itchiness at night include psoriasis, hives, and eczema. Let’s consider each of these in turn.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that results in the buildup of skin cells, which causes scaling on the surface of the skin. One of the most common symptoms of psoriasis is itching and burning sensations around the affected patches of skin.
Hives are itchy welts that result from a skin reaction. Typically pink or red in color and are mostly caused by an allergic reaction to food, mediation, and an irritant in the environment.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is another chronic skin condition that can cause dry and itchy skin. This itchy skin can turn into a red rash.
It is recommended that you visit your doctor for proper treatment options for each of these skin diseases.
Itchy skin may be an early sign of certain cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma. In the case of lymphoma, for example, itching may be caused by chemicals that have been released by the immune system. If you have been experiencing itchy skin for some time without any obvious causes, it may be worth speaking to a doctor.
5. Thyroid Problems
The thyroid is a large ductless gland in the neck. It plays an important role within the body, secreting hormones that regulate growth and development through the rate of metabolism.
Thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are known to cause itchiness of the skin. If itchy skin is accompanied by other symptoms such as quickened pulse and unintentional weight loss, it is recommended that you consult your doctor.
Noticing Causes of Itchy Skin at Night
If you have noticed that your sin is itchy at night, it may be related to one of the above causes. If you notice red bumps on the skin, for example, this may be a sign of bed bug bites or hives.
Some conditions can be treated with over-the-counter mediation and changes to cleaning habits. If you are unsure of the cause and the itching is persistent, it is recommended to speak to a doctor.
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