New Season, New Itch
Brilliantly colored leaves. Diminishing daylight. That first, tiny crocus. There are many markers of a new season…including changes in your itch.
Winter is generally the WORST time for itch-prone folks. Colder, drier weather combined with low humidity and the use of central heat often leave us with snake-like skin (think flakey and scaly). This so-called “winter itch” is most common in those with a history of eczema, allergies, or asthma, as well as in seniors. If you’ve been plagued by the winter itch, take solace in the fact that you’re not alone: a 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) suggests at least 81 million Americans share your pain.
While spring and summer provide warmer temps and higher humidity (which generally aids dry skin), these sunnier months also bring new itch ailments. Mosquito bites are one of the most common sources of summertime itch. When this pesky critter latches onto your skin, it injects its saliva while simultaneously extracting your blood. The saliva contains a cocktail of proteins that most people are allergic to, triggering an immune system response which then causes the telltale red bump and itch.
Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are warm weather plants containing an itch-inducing oil called urushiol. When urushiol grazes your skin, it frequently prompts a scratchy, blistering rash known as allergic contact dermatitis. These plants grow in most areas of the United States, but are less common in Alaska, Hawaii, and the desert areas of the Southwest.
So, when the seasons turn, take a moment to consider potential changes in your itch. Understanding the fluctuating environmental factors at play can help you avoid seasonal irritants and keep the scratching at bay!
References: MedicineNet/ Dry Skin, John Hopkins Medicine/ Winterzing Skin, The American Mosquito Control Association/Frequently Asked Questions, Healthline/Mosquito Bites, American Academy of Dermatology/Poison Ivy Tips, WebMD/Skin Problems and Treatments, Cleveland Clinic/The Poison Plants
“Every day my patients ask me how they can prevent wrinkles and brown spots. My advice is to first and foremost protect yourself from the sun and UV rays.” –Dr. Gigler