A shower may leave your skin clean, but if your skin itches after you shower, you probably find them more enervating than refreshing. How you ease this irritating itch depends on what causes it. If you're prone to allergies, your itchy skin might result from your soap, your perspiration or even the water itself. An overly hot shower that dries your skin could also leave you scratching.
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It may seem paradoxical to develop dry skin from standing under a blast of water, but a hot shower parches your skin as the water evaporates. Your skin naturally produces oil that acts as a barrier between skin and the harsh environment of the outside world. Hot water sluices this oil from your skin, stripping it of its protection and leaving it feeling dry, tight and itchy. If you take long, hot showers and your itching is most severe on your lower legs and forearms, dry skin is the likely culprit for your discomfort. Scale back the heat, take a shorter shower and try a moisturizer on affected skin to ease the itch.
Your shower brings you into contact with everything from the chemicals that comprise your soap and shampoo to the cleaning products you use on your shower enclosure. Depending on how damp your shower becomes, you might also encounter mildew. Your towel bears traces of detergent and fabric softener. All of these things potentially cause contact dermatitis, a general name for temporary skin irritation in response to a stimulus. If you noticed itching only after making a recent change to your shower routine, you might have a mild case of contact dermatitis. Try your old products that didn't cause itching to discover if a new product is responsible.
An allergic reaction on the skin raises itchy welt-like hives. If hives accompany your post-shower itching, you probably have an allergy to something you're finding in your shower. Organic materials such as mold and mildew are the likeliest culprits for allergic reactions. However, they shouldn't be the only item on your allergy checklist. If you develop hives from exercise or on very hot days, you could have cholinergic urticaria, the technical term for heat-related hives. This reaction happens when your body has an allergic reaction to your own perspiration. Although heat-related hives are rare, the solution is simple: lower the temperature of your shower to stop the itching.
Water itself may cause itching for people with the rare condition dermatologists call aquagenic pruritus. The term literally means water-caused itching, and it happens when your body's defense mechanisms trigger in the presence of water. People with the condition report the itch as feeling deep within the skin. If you have this rare condition, you may also notice itching on humid days or during exercise. However, unlike heat-related hives, aquagenic pruritus leaves no visible sign of the itch such as redness or raised welts. Your dermatologist can help you decide on a course of treatment if you have this skin condition.