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Why is my face itchy?

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Of all the skin conditions that can affect our face, including acne, eczema, oiliness and dryness, itchy skin is perhaps the most perplexing. Annoying, frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, having an itchy face means having to touch our faces a lotwhich at best can ruin our perfectly applied makeup. Worse, regularly touching our faces can cause other existing skin conditions such as acne worse by introducing dirt, oil and bacteria onto our skin.

So why does the skin on our face sometimes itch and what causes it? How can we soothe our itchy skin and stop it from feeling so annoyingly ‘there’ all the time?

Here. we delve deep into the what, why and how of itchy skin.

What causes an itchy face and neck?

Frustratingly, there isn’t one sole cause of itchy skin on the face and neck. Instead, there are many reasons why our skin may become itchy.

Itchy skin, also known in medical terms as pruritus, can be caused by an external irritant such as something you’ve touched or are putting on your skin. It can also be caused by an internal irritant such as something you’ve eaten or a medication you’ve taken or an allergy to something you’ve breathed in or by suffering dry skin conditions.

Sometimes, working out what’s causing your itchy skin can be difficult, and may include the use of elimination diets with the help of a doctor or nutritionist, or starting from scratch with simple skincare to see what might be causing your symptoms.

What causes red and swollen itchy skin on the face?

Some itchy skin accompanies a rash, whilst other itchy skin conditions have nothing visible on the skin.

If you have itchy skin along with a rash, it could be caused by an allergy to something you’re either eating or your skin is coming into contact with. For example, certain foods, such as shellfish can cause itching skin, as can certain soaps and cleaning products.

If you’re allergic to any of these, your immune system responds by causing a surge of white blood cells to the surface of the skin, causing it to become red, itchy and bumpy (these red bumps are called hives).

You may notice that each time you eat or use a certain something, the same thing happens. If so, it’s best to avoid your triggers if you can. The heat can also cause red, itchy skin called prickly heat. If you notice red, itchy bumps when you’re hot or in the sun, take good steps to remain cool and avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea can also cause itchy skin accompanied by a rash or red, raised areas of skin.

Itchy skin with no rash

More tricky to work out the exact causes for, is itchy skin without a rash. This kind of itchy skin can be caused by dry skin. In fact, this is the most common cause of itchy skin with no visible rash.

Dry skin can be helped by using kind, gentle skincare products developed with non conformist skin in mind. It can help to nourish and hydrate dry, parched skin, replace lost moisture and help to relieve the annoyance of both dryness and itching.

Another reason you could be suffering itchy skin is a sensitivity to the water you’re using to wash your face. Some areas have particularly hard water, meaning that it has a high mineral count that some are sensitive to. You'll know if you have hard water by looking for signs on your taps - very high mineral content water deposits a white buildup on taps and other surfaces. If so, you can buy a water softener that can help.

Having an iron deficiency can also cause itchy skin with no rash. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you have a poor diet or you experience particularly heavy periods, you may benefit from taking an iron supplement.

Hormone related itchy skin

Some women find that around the time of their period that their skin becomes itchy. The same can happen during pregnancy or the menopause and it’s all down to our hormones.

Your skin should settle down once your hormones do, but if you’re pregnant and have very itchy skin, make sure you speak to your GP or midwife.

What causes itchy skin at night?

Nocturnal pruritus, or itching skin at night can be caused by the usual fluctuations in body temperature, fluid balance and hormone release.

You can help to soothe your night time itchy skin by having a cool bath before bed and using a humidifier in your bedroom to counteract any dryness caused by central heating.

How to relieve itchy skin on the face

Quite often, itchy skin can be down to simply dry skin caused by overwashing. If you wash your skin more than twice a day, try cutting down to see if this makes a difference. Also try to avoid excessively long or excessively hot showers and baths.

Use a gentle cleanser and moisturiser like our ones here at Sönd. We specialise in gentle skin products made using plant botanicals and alkalising silica salts that are kind to the skin, helping to keep it hydrated, supple, nourished and problem free.

Always make sure you moisturise to replenish moisture after cleansing, which will help to keep dry, itchy skin at bay. Our products also help to gently but effectively support skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea that can cause itching skin.

If your itchy skin is caused by an internal or external irritant, try to avoid your triggers and continue to nourish and treat your skin with gentle skincare products like ours.

Another tip to help soothe itchy skin is to pat your skin dry after washing, rather than rubbing it with a towel. During particularly infuriating flare ups, rest a cool, damp cloth or flannel onto the skin for immediate relief.

Try to avoid wearing tight collared shirts, roll necks or scarves around your neck if you can, too and instead aim for cool, loose fitting clothing made from natural fabrics such as cotton or hemp. Consuming spicy foods, hot foods, caffeine and alcohol can also cause itchy skin to flare up, so avoid these as much as possible.

If taking holistic steps to treating your itchy skin doesn’t work, it may be worth speaking to your GP who can arrange a referral to a skin specialist or an allergy specialist who can do some tests to pinpoint any skin conditions or allergies.


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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