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Chronic Itching: A Common but Often Ignored Symptom

Pruritus, aka chronic itching, affects about a quarter of us over our lifetime, and researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany think it’s time for the medical profession to take a closer look at both the symptoms and their causes. Besides eczema, itching is associated with serious conditions such as liver and gall bladder disease, kidney dysfunction, diabetes and cancer, so it’s important not to ignore patient complaints of chronic itching, researchers said.

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes dry skin and red, itchy patches and, as this latest research hints, its exact cause isn’t always known. It is believed to occur due to a combination of factors, however, such as viral and environmental conditions. The important thing to remember is that both a diagnosis of eczema and complaints of pruritus should be taken seriously.

For example, liver disease is a growing epidemic and, as mentioned, chronic itching is but one symptom of liver damage. What we do know is that lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, weight, smoking and alcohol consumption play a huge part in not just liver disease, but many chronic diseases, which means that one way to begin addressing symptoms like itching is to address lifestyle factors. For example, simply eliminating processed foods and excess fructose from your diet can go a long way toward tackling underlying chronic diseases.

But while you’re doing that, if you are the one who’s suffering from chronic itching, you’re probably also looking for fast solutions to stop the itching and the rashes that often accompany it. So, whether your rash and subsequent itching are due to an insect bite, contact with an allergen (such as poison ivy) or a systemic condition, some at-home treatments that work rather well topically include:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • A baking soda paste
  • Oatmeal, wet and made into a paste
  • Banana peels
  • Watermelon rind
  • Coconut oil

By the way, when it comes to coconut oil as a skin treatment, keeping a jar of 100 percent virgin coconut oil in your bathroom closet is a good idea for a number of different skin conditions. Besides rashes, you can use it for shaving, to wash your face, as a lip balm or a night cream, and even as a deodorant, to name a few.

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