Why being itchy could mean a serious problem for older adults


We all get itchy, sometimes. And usually, it’s no big deal. An area of skin tingles and feels irritated, and it moves a person to scratch it.

But there are times when being itchy is actually a sign of a serious health problem, and these problems often affect older adults. Read on to learn what some of some of those problems might be.




When an itch is a sign of something serious

There are numerous causes of itching. However, some causes are much more serious than others. Particularly serious is the itch that comes without a rash.

An itch without a rash could be a symptom of one of the following serious problems that should not be ignored:

  • Diabetes
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

The itch can occur all over the body, or it might occur in just one location — commonly the lower legs.

What to do

If you or an a older adult that you know has an itch, particularly one without a rash, that is severe and not going away, it’s important to contact a medical professional.

In the meantime:

  • Try not to scratch the area.
  • Keep the skin hydrated with moisturizer.
  • Avoid tight clothing or rough fabrics over the affected area.

But most importantly, don’t ignore the problem. Ignoring the rash could be ignoring one of the first symptoms of a serious disease. Usually, a simple blood test can determine the underlying problem or eliminate serious causes. But doing nothing might allow a serious disease to get much worse or even become a life-threatening situation. So, if such symptoms occur, be sure to consult with a physician.

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