There are various reasons why a person may experience itching after bathing and this is not always related to any medical problem. Sometimes it can be as simple as not drying off properly, while at other times itching after bathing may be linked to allergies and skin diseases without any other obvious symptoms. Although itching after bathing is not usually seen as a serious medical problem, it can be quite distressing to some people and bath time may be dreaded.
Why does itching occur?
It is important to understand why itching arises. Itching is one of the body’s many protective mechanisms and early warning signals. The itch receptors are stimulated by light touch on the skin surface which may serve to signal the presence of a crawling insect or other potentially dangerous stimulus. This differs from pain which signals tissue injury.
When itching occurs we are compelled to scratch the area. As a result we may remove the offending agent that stimulates this itch sensation. We all experience itching for these reasons, but itching is also linked to inflammation. The inflammatory process can trigger and stimulate these itch receptors even when there is no obvious threat on the skin surface. Therefore itching is seen with various skin conditions, primarily inflammatory diseases.
Causes of Itching After Bathing
There are a host of possible causes that may lead to itching after bathing. Some of the more likely causes have been discussed below but it is important to seek medical advice. Sometimes more serious skin diseases may not present in a typical manner, and vague symptoms like itching after bathing may be the only indicators of these skin diseases existing.
Although heat exposure is associated with a burning sensation, it can also sometimes give rise to itching after bathing. Using very hot water can be a problem and may also lead to hypersensitivity of the skin. Heat increases blood flow to the skin surface and can also exacerbate any existing inflammation at the site. For example, people suffering with sunburn may find the itching worsen after bathing in hot water. Individual tolerance to heat is a factor and some people may experience symptoms like itching even after a lukewarm bath.
It may seem unfathomable that water can be a problem as the human body is primarily composed of water. However, the skin surface has a degree of tolerance to water exposure. Prolonged immersion in water can cause creasing or wrinkling of the skin. Similarly water can act as an irritant and cause itching and even a rash if it is on the skin for long periods. This may be seen in conditions like irritant contact dermatitis.
Soap and Shampoo
Most soaps and shampoos have been thoroughly tested and do not tend to irritate the skin of most people. In some individuals with allergies, specific soaps and shampoos can be a problem. However, as is the case with water the skin may become irritated with prolonged exposure to soap and shampoo. Therefore soap or shampoo that is not fully washed off with bathing may cause itching afterwards. Sometimes washing off hair products like harsh hair dyes can cause the skin to itch after bathing, as the dye makes contact with the skin while being removed.
Using a loofah or any other similar object to bathe can cause irritation and injury to the skin. It largely depends on how abrasive the object is and the force used when scrubbing. Understandably vigorous scrubbing is more likely to injury the skin and this is further exacerbated by heat when bathing in hot water. Depending on the type of loofah, some people may react to substances within it.
Bathing can dry the skin for several reasons with soap and water being the main contributors. Firstly soap strips the skin of its natural oils and some soaps are harsher than others. Secondly, water can have a drying effect especially when it is not properly wiped off the skin after bathing. Dry skin is known to cause itching and people with dry skin for other reasons may find that the itching aggravates after bathing.
Itching is a common symptom in many skin diseases. It may worsen with a number of stimuli, and bathing may be a factor. The heat, soaps used and water on the skin can all serve as exacerbating factors. Therefore itching after bathing is not uncommon in skin diseases like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Usually there is also a rash present as well as other symptoms, unlike with itching after bathing who do not have underlying skin problems.
Remedies for Itching After Bathing
Simple measures can help with easing itching after bathing and even preventing it to some degree. This largely depends on the underlying cause but some of these measures apply to itching after bathing due to any cause. It is important to seek medical attention if the itching persists, especially it presents with other symptoms like skin rashes.
- Bathe in lukewarm water. Water that is neither hot nor cold is probably the better option although most people enjoy a hot bath.
- Reduce bath time. Shorter baths may be less likely to trigger itching after bathing. Showers may at times be a better option than immersing in a bath tub.
- Use hypoallergenic soaps. There are a number of mild soaps that can be used but certain soaps are labeled specifically as being hypoallergenic, which means it is less likely to trigger allergies.
- Do not scrub vigorously. Gentle rubbing even without a loofah or a similar object is often sufficient for most people to bathe.
- Dry the skin thoroughly. It is important to take sufficient time to dry the skin thoroughly after bathing. While a dry towel should suffice, sometimes additional measures like standing in front of an electric fan can help to haste drying.
- Use a moisturizer. Since bathing can dry the skin, moisturizing immediately after bathing can counteract the dryness. However, an appropriate moisturizer that is not high in water content needs to be used.