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Why does my body itch after I shower?

Avoid using soaps/shower gels with strong chemicals.

Dear Doctor,

For the past two weeks I’ve resorted to using plain Vaseline because every time I take a bath, my body itches terribly. I used to think it was my lotion, which I’ve consistently used since I was in high school. But the itching didn’t stop. Is it water? What can I do? Saul

 

Dear Saul,

 

How long have you had this problem? Is it the same as before or the problem is aggravating?  One can have itching all over the body after a bath due to multiple reasons. The most common cause is dryness of the skin.

 

Hot water used during a bath can cause dryness of the skin. The problem is further aggravated by use of a soap or shower gel with harsh chemicals. It can be due to allergy to any chemical present in the soap/shower gel used, either for the fragrance or foam.

If there has been a recent change in routine, entailing exposure to dust or fumes of any kind, that can also be a cause for dryness and itching of skin. Exposure to draughts of cold or hot wind also makes the skin dry. Poor personal hygiene itself leads to itchy skin, because the set grime can cause irritation of the skin.

Among medical conditions, under functioning of the thyroid gland has itching of the skin as one of the manifestations. Diet deficient in vitamin A, vitamin E may lead to dry skin. It can be due to fungal infections, parasitic infections like scabies, of the body. Uncontrolled diabetes, or infections like HIV make one more vulnerable to these infections. Intestinal worms have itching of the skin as one of the manifestations, due to allergy to the existing worms. Eczema of the skin manifests as dry, flaky, itchy skin.

This problem is preventable as well as curable. Use cold water or lukewarm water for a shower. Avoid using soaps/shower gels with strong chemicals. You can also try to change the soap used. Do not rub the skin vigorously after a shower. Just pat the skin softly, apply a suitable moisturising lotion over it when the skin is still damp. Make a point to wash hands and feet before sleeping.

In case of a suspected medical problem, it is advisable to get suitable relevant investigations and take the appropriate treatment.

 

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