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Dr Vernons casebook: HEALTH MEMO.

Byline: Dr Vernon Coleman

ITCHING occurs when nerve endings on the skin are stimulated.

There are many possible causes:

-Allergy to clothing, detergents or drugs.

-Skin conditions as varied as chickenpox, eczema and nettle rash.

-General health problems including diabetes and jaundice.

-Infections such as thrush and scabies.

-Insect bites and too much bathing which removes natural oils.

Scratching damages the sensitive nerve endings and substitutes pain for the itchy feeling. Most people find mild pain easier to tolerate than itching.

The downside is that scratching stimulates the production of irritating chemicals which cause more itching. The more you scratch it, the more it itch!

When you suspect that itching may be caused by a specific factor such as a type of soap or woollen clothing then the solution is obvious.

But getting rid of itching isn't always that easy. A bland moisturising cream will sometimes soothe the skin, reduce dryness and remove an itch.

A doctor may prescribe an antihistamine to stop the itching.

Since repeated scratching breaks the surface of the skin and makes it vulnerable to infection it is sometimes wise to dress small children in gloves if they're scratching.

The gloves at least stop them gouging chunks out of their skin.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2002
Words:205
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