We’ve all had those nights where time keeps tick-tocking closer to the morning light but sleep is nowhere to be found. Now, imagine in your restlessness that you are super itchy on top of this.
Believe it or not, nocturnal itch is a “thing.” Majority of patients with inflammatory skin conditions (such as eczema, and psoriasis) experience increased itching at night. Nighttime itching can cause you to scratch in your sleep, which in turn irritates your skin and leads to sleep loss.
So – why do we itch more at night? Well, the short answer is, the doctors are unsure.
“Previously, the main explanation for nocturnal itch was that people are busier during the day, surrounded by distractions that take their minds off the itch but that is no longer the case,” said Gil Dr. Yosipovitch, Director of the Itch Center at Temple University Medical School and member of the Cosmederm Bioscience Scientific Advisory Board. “We are gaining a better understand of nocturnal itch and believe that variety of factors can lead to it.”
One theory explains that your skin temperature can fluctuate with your circadian rhythms – the changes in your body over a 24-hour period that often dictate sleep patterns. Your skin actually loses more water during the night, which can lead to increased itch. Also chemicals that induce itch may be increased at night time.
While the “usual suspects” of itch treatments can help nocturnal itch, doctors will also sometimes prescribe medications that can have a sedative effect.
“Drugs such as sedating anti-histamines such as Hydroxyzine as well as ant-epileptic drugs such as Gabapentin and Pregabalin and types of anti-depressants such as mirtazapine that cause sedation may help the patients have better sleep and less scratching at night time,” said Yosipovitch.
“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