Itching without a rash may not be an allergy

Itching is a common symptom seen often in the allergist/immunologist’s office. However, if the patient is itching without a preceding rash, there are a list of numerous possible causes and include non-allergic conditions. We first need to determine whether the cause of itching is derived from the skin or another organ system. Itching that is not caused by a skin condition usually does not have a rash, although some patients can develop a secondary rash.

Several circumstances can cause itching without a rash and can be due to systemic, neurologic, or psychiatric conditions. A few examples of systemic conditions include kidney disease, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, lymphoma, polycythemia vera, and HIV infection. Narcotic medications can have itching as a side effect, as well as nerve injury from shingles or spine disease, as they can cause localized itching at the affected area. Lastly, psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse or obsessive-compulsive disorder can also lead to itching.

The management of itching without rash should start with evaluating for and treating the underlying cause. There are a variety of remedies available for symptomatic relief; moisturizing the skin, keeping nails short, wearing loose clothing and taking antihistamines. While antihistamines are often used for itching, studies suggest that first generation antihistamines only help itching by causing sedation.

There are more successful, prescribed oral medications available which can be slowly increased to minimize side effects.

If you have questions regarding an allergic condition, I invite you to come in for a consultation.

For more on allergy triggers, visit my website NYC Allergy Doctor.

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