What It Really Means When These Different Parts Of Your Body Itch

Everyone gets itchy (if you don't, we're jealous), and itchy skin is annoying, to say the least. Sometimes, though, it's more than an annoyance, and what you thought was just a pesky itch actually needs some attention. How do you know if your itch needs a little TLC? If it's accompanied by a rash or swelling or lasts longer than two weeks, you might want to see a doctor. Otherwise, you might be able to treat it at home.

You can actually tell a lot about an itch (and how to treat it) by where it is. Some itches are easily diagnosed — like, say, dandruff as the cause of an itchy scalp — and some are more innocuous than others. For example, an itchy bug bite on your ankle is definitely less serious than an itchy rash. Moreover, knowing about your itch can tell you whether or not it's safe to scratch. Scratching an itchy rash caused by poison ivy will just transfer the ivy's oils to other parts of your body, causing more itching. Even excessively scratching a bug bite (which we know you'll probably do anyway) can cause infection, especially if you scratch hard enough to break through the skin.

Ultimately, each kind of itch will need to be treated differently, but as long as you treat each properly, your itch should go away in no time. Here's what to know about itchy skin on every part of your body.

An itchy scalp

If you ever get an itchy scalp and immediately worry about lice, you're not alone. Fortunately, little head bugs are often not the culprit of an itchy scalp. According to Healthline, you could be experiencing dryness (possibly resulting in dandruff) or seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause swollen red skin and dandruff. Dandruff, the white flakes of skin that can appear in your hair if you have a dry scalp or a lot of product buildup, probably isn't what you want to see as you're doing your hair in the morning. Luckily, it's pretty easy to get rid of. 

There are a few things you can try to treat your dry or dandruff-ridden itchy scalp. First, you could try to give the pH levels of your scalp a little reset with a scalp detox. Apple cider vinegar can be a huge help in this regard, and using an apple cider vinegar and water mixture (about a 1:3 ratio) as a rinse in the shower can help exfoliate your scalp and balance its pH. Just make sure to massage it into your scalp well. You could also try a tea tree oil treatment, which may be more effective if your dandruff is a fungal problem rather than just a result of dry skin. If all else fails, there's always medicated dandruff shampoo, and if that doesn't work, we'd recommend checking in with a medical professional.

Itchy feet

An itchy foot is one of the most annoying things in the world, in our opinion, especially when you're out and about and can't scratch it through your shoes. Sometimes an itch on your feet goes away as suddenly as it appears, but that isn't always the case. If you experience itchy feet frequently or for long periods of time, that could be a sign that your feet need some attention. Don't worry, though, as it's likely nothing too serious.

Your itchy feet could just be a sign of dry skin. If you suspect that's the case, we recommend moisturizing your feet with lotion before bed and sleeping with socks on to let the moisture soak in (if you're feeling particularly extra, you could always check out a pair of moisturizing socks). If that doesn't do the trick, Medical News Today says you might have a dry skin condition that needs medical attention, like psoriasis or eczema. You can generally treat mild cases of both eczema and psoriasis with a topical steroid cream, though if that doesn't work, you may need to consult a doctor for a prescription cream. Another common cause of itchy feet is athlete's foot, which can be treated with an antifungal lotion or medication.

Ear canal itching

Few things are worse than an itchy inner ear. When faced with an ear itch, we don't blame you if your first impulse is to tackle it with a cotton swab, but the Cleveland Clinic advises against that. Trying to solve your problem with a cotton swab could cause more issues — for example, you could end up pushing wax further into your ear or even damaging your ear drum if you bump into it. Touching your eardrum can be incredibly painful, so again, you should definitely forego that cotton swab.

Itchy ear canals can be harder to diagnose than your average itch — after all, it's pretty hard to see the inside of your own ear — but luckily, it's pretty easy to tell whether your itchy ear needs serious attention. If you notice discharge or pain along with your itch, that's a sign of infection, and you should see a doctor. Otherwise, your itchy ear could be a sign that you need to go get it cleaned, or even that you're cleaning it too much! If you suspect wax buildup to be the culprit, you could always try an over-the-counter wax removal solution, such as Debrox. At-home wax removal can be done (carefully!) with a bulb syringe, which uses suction to remove excess earwax. Otherwise, we advise seeing an ENT for any ear-related issues, as trying to address a problem in the ear canal yourself could result in further damage.

An itchy face

An itchy face can often bring with it a rash-like redness, bumpiness, or flaking of your facial skin, which are all annoying (and possibly anxiety-inducing if your appearance is affected). A persistently itchy face isn't only annoying; constant scratching can introduce bacteria to your otherwise radiant skin, which could cause blemishes and further irritation. The solution to your itchy face woes could be as simple as tying back your hair so flyaways don't irritate your skin. Even if you know rogue hairs aren't the cause, your itchy face is still likely a very solvable problem.

If your face itches, it could be just a result of dryness, especially if your dry skin appears seasonally. If this is the case, you might want to amp up your skincare routine to include a gentle exfoliating routine and a good moisturizer. Medical News Today notes that your itchy face could also be a sign of an allergic reaction, and can even be a side effect of some medications like aspirin, opioids, blood pressure medications, and some cancer treatments. If you think you're experiencing an allergic reaction or a side effect to one of the above, you should consult a medical professional.

Belly button itchiness

If you haven't suffered from belly button itch, we consider you one lucky individual. If you have, you know what an annoyance it is, and how problematic it can be to fix — belly button itch often won't go away on its own. Firstly you should make sure you're regularly cleaning your belly button in the shower. If that doesn't solve your itch, you'll probably need to add a treatment to your routine. 

Belly button itches could just be a mild itch, or they could be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, which will each require different treatment. If you notice discharge or a strong odor, you may be looking at an infection. If that's the case, Livestrong recommends consulting with a doctor before trying to treat your itchy belly button on your own, as you may need a prescription medication. If your itch is mild and accompanied by redness or dry skin, you could be looking at a fungal infection, which may improve with an over-the-counter fungal cream such as Lotrimin.

Anal itchiness

Itchy anus? First off, we're very sorry — covert scratching when an itch hits in public is nothing to envy. Second, itchy butts are nothing to be embarrassed about. Third, an itchy anus is a very solvable problem! 

If you're a Bob's Burgers fan, your first fear might be pinworms. If you don't live or regularly interact with children, you're probably in the clear as far as pinworms are concerned, as they're most often found in (and passed along by) kids. If you notice anal itching predominantly at nighttime and you are in regular contact with kids, though, pinworms could be the cause. They can generally be seen in and around the anal area, or you may need to consult with a doctor.

Pinworms aside, your itchy anus could be caused by a myriad of things, including skin conditions, infections, and even spicy food. Diagnosing your particular itch might take a little trial and error of changing up your habits to see if any of them could be the culprit. You could be experiencing an allergic reaction to your body wash, in which case a simple soap change may do the trick. If you're experiencing hemorrhoids, however, you might need an over-the-counter topical treatment, with Scripps recommending a hydrocortisone cream. STIs, of course, need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. If your discomfort is caused by spicy food, just take it easy on the hot sauce from here on out.

Itchy pubic area

Which is more annoying: anal itches or pubic itches? We'll leave that up to you because we think they're equally awful. Pubic itchiness is a special kind of annoying, though. If you want to say goodbye to awkwardly rubbing your thighs together to relieve an itch on the subway, or trying to awkwardly fidget it away during your water cooler chats, keep reading.

Depending on what genitalia you're dealing with, your pubic itch could be caused by a few different things. Culprit number one, especially if your affliction is new, could be an allergic reaction. If you recently switched up your body soap or added something new to your grooming regimen, stop using it for a few days and see if that helps. Improper shaving in the pubic area, or shaving without gently exfoliating the skin first and moisturizing it after, could cause razor burn or ingrown hairs, which can lead to itching. Other possible causes of pubic itching are more serious, like genital herpes and other STIs, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Of course, we always recommend keeping the area clean. If your itch persists or is consistently uncomfortable, medical attention is always advised.

Itchy legs

As with many other itchy areas on this list, your itchy legs could be simply the result of dry skin or an allergic reaction. If you suspect dry skin is the culprit, add a gentle exfoliating routine to your shower regimen, and follow it up with a good moisturizer after you shower. Allergic reactions to plants or other wildlife may need medical attention, especially if you don't know the exact cause of the itch. Mild allergic reactions to plants like poison ivy or poison oak can typically be treated with a calamine lotion. Of course, in warmer months, bug bites are also likely culprits.

If you exercise frequently, your workouts could be causing your legs to itch. When you work out, especially if you're a runner, the increased blood flow to your legs can cause itching. If you notice leg itchiness during or just after your workout and it tends to go away quickly, that's the most likely cause. However, the American Diabetes Association says that itchy legs could also be a warning sign of something more serious, including diabetes. As always, if the itch persists, you should see a doctor.

Itchy hands or palms

Some people make fists to gear up for a fight, but we do it to scratch our hands. Yes, you heard us right — you're not the only one to suffer from itchy hands! Although itchy palms have been said to be a sign of greed, there are other more diagnosable (and treatable) causes of your itchy hands that have little to do with whatever your hoarding habits may be.

Your itchy hands are probably pretty innocuous and, like with many other itchy areas, could just be caused by dry skin. If you suspect that's the case, we recommend applying a good hand lotion throughout the day, especially if you work with your hands frequently. Sometimes eczema or a similar dry skin condition is the culprit, in which case you'll want to shop around for a lotion that targets eczema specifically. U.S. Dermatology Partners also cites psoriasis as a common cause of itchy hands; psoriasis can generally be treated with a topical lotion, but more serious cases may require a prescription. However, like itchy legs, itchy hands could be a warning sign of diabetes. 

Back itching

What's the worst kind of itch? One you can't scratch — and we're not speaking metaphorically. Back itches that you just can't reach should be illegal, in our opinion. Fortunately, they're a pretty solvable problem, as much of the time they're just due to dry skin. Exfoliating during your shower with a gentle back brush should help, and apply a good moisturizing lotion after your shower. You might want to enlist a friend or household member to help, but if nobody's readily available, there are several household tools you can use in a pinch. There's no shame in using a rubber spatula to lotion your back!

However, Skincare Physicians notes that you could also be suffering from the lesser-known "notalgia paresthetica." Notalgia Paresthetica is especially likely to be the cause if you notice the itching in that spot under your shoulder blades that's notoriously hard to reach. If you suspect notalgia paresthetica is causing your discomfort, we recommend consulting with a dermatologist. 

Itchy eyes

Eye rubbing has somehow become a universal symbol of fatigue, but you know as well as we do that you don't only rub your eyes when you're tired. Itchy, watery eyes plague all of us from time to time — luckily, they tend to be an easily solvable problem. If your itchy eyes are seasonal, there's a good chance they're caused by allergies or dryness. Seasonal allergies (unless yours are severe) can generally be treated by an over-the-counter allergy medicine, like Zyrtec or Allegra. If you think dry eyes are the cause, you could try eye drops. You could even use heat to revive your dry eyes by applying a warm compress to your (closed!) eyes.

If your eye itching persists despite your best efforts, we recommend seeing a medical professional. You could just be experiencing severe seasonal allergies, but Grady Health says that the problem can sometimes be more serious, like pink eye. Pink eye is usually easy to diagnose, as your eye itchiness will be accompanied by swelling and redness. If a viral or bacterial infection is causing your itchy eyes, you'll need to treat them with a prescription medicine.

Itchy nose

Your nose itch, while annoying, probably isn't the biggest deal. While Johns Hopkins says an itchy nose could be caused by a viral form of rhinitis (which may need to be treated with allergy shots), nose itching is more likely the result of mild allergies or dry skin. An easy way to tell the two apart? If the itching is internal and causes lots of sneezing, you could be looking at an allergic reaction to seasonal or other environmental triggers. If your nose itches externally and is accompanied by skin flaking, dry skin is a likely culprit. 

If you suspect allergies, we recommend trying an over-the-counter allergy medicine and seeing if that does the trick. In the case of dry skin on your nose, implement a good exfoliating and moisturizing routine to try to solve the problem. If all else fails and your itchy nose persists, we always recommend seeing a medical professional. Consult a doctor if the itching is internal and accompanied by sneezing or other respiratory concerns, and check in with your dermatologist for any surface-level nose itching problems.