All-Over Itchy Skin (Without) Rash

Why your skin itches on different body parts

Medically reviewed by Casey Gallagher, MD

Itchy skin without a rash can be an annoying problem, especially if it’s long-lasting and you can’t find relief. Persistent itching could be due to various causes, from simple dry skin to systemic disease. An itch can sometimes be an early warning sign of serious illness.

This article covers the possible causes of itchy skin, how to treat it at home, which over-the-counter (OTC) treatments might help, and when you need to see a healthcare provider.

<p>Elena Vafina / Getty Images</p>

Elena Vafina / Getty Images

Allergies and Inflammation

Skin allergies and inflamed skin can both cause itching. However, it’s uncommon for them to cause an itch without a visible rash or skin changes.

Identifying Itchy Skin Symptoms (Without Rash)

Itchy skin with no rash can be confined to a small area of your body, such as a hand or your scalp, or it can span multiple areas, or even spread all over.

Other symptoms often result from repeated scratching. These may include:

  • Spots that are either darker or lighter than the surrounding skin

  • Lumpy, scaly, or leathery patches

  • Inflamed skin

  • Scratch marks

  • Sores or scabs

  • Bruising

  • Scarring

Related: Why Does the Same Spot Keep Itching?

Causes of Itchy Skin and Body Parts

Many things can cause an itch without a rash. Some of these are easy to address on your own, while others may require a medical diagnosis and treatment.

Dry Skin

Extremely dry skin can be enough to cause a lot of itching. You can develop dry skin at any age, but the older you get, the more common it is.

Winter air contains less moisture, so you’re more likely to develop a dryness-related itch during the colder months. Typically, winter itch:

  • Can spread widely.

  • Is most common on the legs.

  • Doesn’t affect the scalp, face, hands, or feet.

  • Comes on suddenly and may be most noticeable at night.

To soothe dry winter skin:

  • Take warm baking soda baths before bed.

  • Use a moisturizer on dry skin.

  • Avoid scratchy fabrics, like wool.

  • Wear lightweight fabrics, like silk or muslin.

  • Use capsaicin cream on small areas with a persistent itch.

  • Use topical steroid creams for areas that become irritated due to scratching.

Learn More: How to Treat Winter Itch

If your skin is drier and itchier during the summer, it may be due to air conditioning (which dries the air), sun exposure, and/or chlorine from the swimming pool. You can ease or prevent dryness by:

  • Using sunscreen when you’re outside.

  • Using mild skin cleansers rather than soaps or antibacterial body washes.

  • Showering and bathing in warm, not hot, water.

  • Sparing the air conditioner and letting your house be a little warmer.

  • Moisturizing often.

Swimmer’s Itch

Don’t confuse dry summer skin with swimmer’s itch, which involves a parasite picked up in natural bodies of water. Swimmer’s itch involves a rash characterized by tiny red spots where skin is directly in contact with the water.

Bug Bites

Bug bites are a common cause of itchiness. Though they may leave a telltale bump, they don’t often cause a rash. Bug bites can be from:

These bites typically go away on their own within a few days or up to a couple of weeks. If the itch is bothersome, you can take an antihistamine (allergy pill) such as:

You can also try:

  • Hydrocortisone cream

  • A baking soda paste

  • An ice pack on the bite(s) for about 10 minutes at a time

  • Washing the area with soap and water or an antibacterial wipe

Try not to scratch. Scratching can make the itch worse or lead to infection and other skin problems.

A bug-related itch and bump can also be due to scabies, which are tiny mites that don’t bite but burrow into your skin. To treat scabies, you’ll need to see a healthcare provider and get a prescription cream.

Chiggers Don’t Burrow

That chiggers burrow into your skin is a common misconception. They actually don’t. Instead, they bite you and inject a digestive enzyme that makes skin cells disintegrate so they can feed on them.

Related: Why Do Mosquitoes Like You Better Than Other People?

Systemic Disorders

A persistent itch may be a symptom of a systemic disorder, which is a condition that affects your internal organs. You should see a healthcare provider if you have an itch without a known cause and other symptoms.

Systemic disorders and possible symptoms that cause itch include:

  • Diabetes: Extreme thirst, urinating a lot, unintended weight changes, tingling hands and feet, fatigue, slow-healing sores, or frequent infections.

  • HIV/AIDS: Fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, night sweats, mouth sores, swollen lymph glands, or diarrhea.

  • Kidney disease: Fatigue, low energy, poor concentration, difficulty sleeping, frequent urination, bloody or foamy urine, puffiness in the eyes and feet, poor appetite, or muscle cramps.

  • Liver disease: Fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, unintended weight loss, nausea and vomiting, mild pain in the upper right abdomen or belly, muscle cramps, or sexual dysfunction.

  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism): Anxiety, concentration problems, fatigue, lump in the front of the throat (goiter), hand tremor, heat intolerance, restlessness, or unintended weight loss.

  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism): Fatigue, unintended weight gain, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, thinning hair, irregular menstrual periods, slow heart rate, or depression.

A healthcare provider must diagnose and treat an itch and any other symptoms caused by any of these health conditions.

Neurological Disorders

Itching is caused by nerves, so many neurological (nerve) disorders include itchiness as a symptom. As with systemic diseases, you must get a proper diagnosis and treatment if your itch is caused by a neurological disease.

Neurological diseases that can cause itching, and other symptoms to watch for, include:

  • Stroke: Sudden symptoms including confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, numbness or weakness on one or both sides, severe headache, vision trouble, difficulty walking, or balance or coordination problems.

  • Multiple sclerosis: Fatigue, walking difficulties, muscle stiffness, and involuntary movements, vision problems, sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder problems, cognitive changes, “squeezing” feeling around the torso, numbness or tingling, weakness, dizziness, pain, emotional changes, or depression.

  • Brain tumors: Headaches, seizures, cognitive problems, personality or behavioral changes, weakness or numbness, paralysis in a body part or on one side, balance problems, hearing loss, vision changes, confusion, or memory loss.

  • Post-herpetic neuralgia: A complication of shingles infection; pain that is sharp and jabbing, burning, or deep and aching; extreme sensitivity to touch and temperature change; numbness; or headaches.

Itching is the primary symptom of a couple of neurological conditions. They are:

  • Brachioradial pruritus: Intense itching, tingling, or burning in the forearms, shoulder, or upper back.

  • Notalgia parasthetica: Intense itching, tingling, or burning along the inner shoulder blade and spine.

See a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment if you have symptoms that suggest a neurological condition.

If you have symptoms that could indicate a stroke, get emergency medical attention.

Learn More: Why You Should 'BE FAST' About Calling 911 After a Stroke

Mental Health Disorders

Some mental health disorders can cause itching as well. It’s just as important to get qualified medical help for these conditions as it is for systemic or neurologic illnesses.

Mental health disorders tied to itching include:

  • Depression: Also causes low mood or a loss of interest that interferes with daily activities and usually lasts for at least two weeks.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Causes repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety; repeated behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety or stopping obsessive thoughts.

  • Compulsive skin picking (dermatillomania): Characterized by repeated picking at perceived skin flaws (pimples, scabs) or natural variations (moles, freckles) that can cause sores, bleeding, and scarring.

  • Delusions of parasitosis: Causes a person to believe that the body is infested with living organisms, such as lice, fleas, fungi, or worms. It can also be caused by another mental disorder, neurological disease, infection, or drug abuse.

  • Anxiety: Can cause restlessness, getting fatigued easily, poor concentration, irritability, sleep problems, headaches, muscle aches, unexplained pain, or excessive feelings or worry.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have an itch along with any of these symptoms. They may refer you to a mental health professional.

Skin Cancer

Around 40% of people with skin cancer have an itch related to the disease. It occurs when non-melanoma cancer spreads along the nerves. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain

  • Numbness

  • Tingling

  • Crawling sensations

  • Lumps beneath the skin in the neck, armpit, or groin

Many cases of skin cancer are curable, especially if they’re caught early. If you have symptoms that could point to skin cancer, see your healthcare provider right away.


Hodgkin lymphoma and cutaneous (skin) T-cell lymphoma are cancers that originate in the white blood cells (lymphocytes). Both are associated with itching.

Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Enlarged lymph node that creates a lump in the neck, armpit, or groin

  • Fever without infection

  • Severe night sweats

  • Significant unintended weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma often involves an intense itch that gets worse as the cancer progresses. Other possible symptoms may include:

  • Fever and chills

  • Unintended weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Skin infections

  • Thickened skin on the palms and soles

  • Loose, hanging skin

  • Yellow, rough, or ridged nails

  • Drooping eyelids

Some cases of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma involve a rash, discoloration, or red, scaly patches of skin. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important with any cancer.


Many medications—both prescription and OTC—can cause itching. Some supplements and herbal remedies do, too.

They can cause itching in a variety of ways, including:

If you become itchy soon after starting a new medication, supplement, or herbal remedy, contact your healthcare provider.

Medications That Cause Itchy Skin

Classes of medications that are known to cause itching include:

  • Antibiotics and antimicrobials: penicillin, amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, tetracyclines, vancomycin, oral antifungals

  • Anitmalarials: chloroquine, amodiaquine

  • Cancer treatments: chlorambucil, gemcitabine, nilotinib, vemurafenib, temsirolimus, ipilimumab, cetuximab, rituximab

  • Cardiovascular medications: amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil, clonidine, methyldopa.

  • Diabetes drugs: metformin, gliclazide, allopurinol

  • Hormonal drugs: some birth-control pills

  • Neuroleptic and psychotropic drugs: amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline

  • Opioids: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, tramadol

Contact your healthcare provider if you become itchy soon after starting a new medication, supplement, or herbal remedy.

How to Treat Itchy Skin at Home

Regardless of its cause, a persistent itch with no rash can be irritating, distracting, and disruptive to your sleep. To help manage it:

  • Don’t scratch it

  • Use a corticosteroid cream

  • Ice the area for 10 minutes at a time

  • Try a baking soda paste or put baking soda in your bathwater

  • Take an antihistamine

Even if your itch is managed, you still need to figure out and treat the underlying cause.

Diagnosing Unexplainable Itching

If you have unexplained itching, your healthcare provider may try several things to diagnose the underlying cause. Your primary healthcare provider may do some testing themselves or refer you to a dermatologist.

The diagnostic process will be different depending on what the healthcare provider suspects. Tests may include:

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

You should contact a healthcare provider anytime you have an itch that is:

  • Disruptive to your life or sleep and not resolved with home remedies

  • Leading to secondary symptoms, such as infections from scratching

  • Associated with other symptoms


A persistent itch with no rash may be caused by dry skin; systemic, neurological, or mental health disorders; some types of cancer; and many types of medications.

Treatments vary by cause. General treatments for an itch include moisturizer, corticosteroid creams, ice packs, and allergy medications. Diagnostic methods also vary depending on what other symptoms you have. See your healthcare provider if your itch is accompanied by symptoms that suggest an underlying disease or if it’s severe enough to disrupt your life.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.