Itchy skin at night can be severe enough and thus, leads to discomfort and disrupted sleep. This condition, called nocturnal pruritus may root in a range of causes from natural ones to health-related issues. Finding out the main cause does not only help eliminate disturbing effects, but also enables you to prevent future night disruption.
Why your skin itches at night
Our body mechanism is different from time to time. What it undergoes during the night might be different from one in the afternoon and hence, leads to certain conditions including itchiness and other discomforts. Commonly, itchy skin at night is caused by natural causes from our body mechanisms and processes. However, some might be quite severe and is a sign of more serious health issues.
Natural causes of itchy skin at night
Daily cycles and mechanisms of the body affect multiple things, such as body temperature, fluid balance, and barrier protection. These body functions change at night and therefore, may be behind some people’s nocturnal itchy skin. During the night, you experience raised temperature and increased blood flow to your skin. Both aim to warm your skin, since the external air temperature falls during the night. This change in your body daily cycles, which sometimes can be quite drastic, may lead to itchy skin at night.
Natural chemical substances your body regularly release may also affect your skin’s sensitivity. At night, it releases cytokines that raises inflammation. Meanwhile, during the time, production of hormones that inhibits inflammation—the corticosteroids—slows down. As a result, your body loses more water at night and thus, causes drier skin. This conditions also lead to itching, especially on the area with significantly drying skin.
In addition to drastic and multiple changes of our body’s daily cycles, itching on skin during nighttime can also be worsened by your state of mind. Changes in body temperature, fluid, and barriers, in fact, may also happen during daytime. However, your physiological states during this time may help you minimize the sensations. During daytime, you may be working and doing other activities and chores that distract you from itchy skin, while at night, with less activities and chores, the sensations can be easily felt. This may cause you to notice your itching skin more during the night.
Itchy skin at night which is caused by natural body mechanisms should not be severe and is commonly temporary. The sensation commonly subsides as soon as your skin can adjust itself to changes your body is making. However, some itchiness may be more intense and eventually more disturbing. This type of itchy skin at night, hence, may root in health-related issues that require more attention. These possible risk factors include:
1. Bugs infestation
A range of bug species may trigger itchy skin at night, which is severe and disturbing. Bed bugs and lice are the most common culprits. These microscopic bugs usually hide silently all over your beds and thus, penetrate your skin at night, causing severe itching, inflammation, and in some other cases, spread ailments. When this insect bites, they release coagulants. How sensitive you are to this coagulants define how severe your itchiness and how big the size of bites will be.
2. Skin disorders
Skin diseases, such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis can also possibly have a significant role in causing skin itching during the night. Eczema and psoriasis, two auto-immune diseases usually get worse when body temperature changes. Atopic or allergic dermatitis, on the other hand, is triggered when someone comes in contact with irritating substances including harsh chemicals and products, jewelry, and foods. As our body loses more water at night, allergic effects increases significantly at night.
Itching in pregnancy is also a common fact. The main cause of itchy skin during pregnancy is the expanding of uterus and excessive stretch of the skin to support the baby. Beside this, pregnancy also triggers hormonal changes that contribute to your body metabolism. These pregnancy hormones will significantly decrease your skin’s natural moisture, causing dry and in some serious cases, flaky skin, which are itchy during the night, at which the body’s water level has significantly dropped.
4. Systemic diseases
Although not necessarily, persistent itching at night may root in the occurrence of systemic diseases, such as kidney failure and liver failure. Patients with these systemic diseases experience itchy skin at night due to the buildup of bile acid on the skin surface, as the liver cannot proceed this excreted substances properly.
Treating itchy skin at night
When treating itchy skin at night, it is important to first see and examine potential risk factors that aggravate the symptoms. This will not only treat the existing symptoms, but may also prevent further breakout. Thus, based on some possible main causes of itchy skin at night, some treatments can be done:
- If you have itchy skin due to allergies, it is important to avoid contact with the allergens. During the night, your skin gets dry and thus, contacts with potential allergens may lead to severe overnight itching that reduces your sleep quality.
- Since the skin naturally loses its water at night due to body metabolism, it is advised to drink more water at night. This will keep your body and skin hydrated and thus, decreases itching during nighttime.
- Install home humidifier. This will also prevent your skin from being over-dried, which causes itching.
- Take a lukewarm bath. This will soothe the affected skin and hence, reduces caused itching. Adding some baking soda into your bathing water will alleviate the caused effects and later, provide you better sleep.
- If you have got very dry skin, apply hypoallergenic moisturizer to reduce itching and flaking. Non-perfumed moisturizers are advised.
- If you get itchy skin from pregnancy, apply moisturizer or petroleum jelly on the affected site to reduce the effects. Also, wear clothes from natural fibers to allow air to reach your skin and prevent dryness.