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Itchy Skin at Night: What Causes it, and How to Fix it

Does any of this sound familiar…

You (or your partner) are desperately trying to get some sleep, but can't…

The culprit? Itchy skin! No matter how hard you try, you can't seem to take your focus off it. Or get rid of it. In fact, the more you scratch, the worse it gets…

Itchy skin can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating, especially when it hits just as you're trying to fall asleep – or, worse, in the middle of the night, when you should already be sound asleep.

If you or a loved one are suffering from itchy skin at night, then this post is for you! We'll explore some of the more common causes of it, as well as share some tips that can help you find the much needed relief you've been looking for.

"Why is My Skin so Itchy?"

One thing that makes itchy skin tricky is that there can be many possible triggers; itchy skin causes can range from benign conditions, to something more serious, such as liver or kidney issues. If you're unsure of the source of your itchy skin, it's important to seek the opinion of a medical professional.

With that said, below we'll outline some of the most common causes of itchy skin…

Dry Skin

One of the most common reasons for itchy skin is simply that the skin itself has become dry.

According to Cleveland Clinic, your skin may be dry due to multiple factors, including cold weather, frequent hand washing, being age 65 or older, working outdoors often, or even underlying health conditions. [1]


Can allergies cause itchy skin? Absolutely! As The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states on their website:

"Itching is often triggered by histamine, a chemical in the body associated with immune responses. It causes the itch and redness you see with insect bites, rashes and skin dryness or damage. Histamine is released by the body during allergic reactions, such as those to pollen, food, latex and medications." [2]


Another common cause of dry skin is eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, which affects almost 1 in 3 Americans. [3]

The condition causes skin to become itchy and dry, and, while it tends to be found mostly on hands, elbows, knees, face, and scalp, it can also lead to widespread skin inflammation which can make it very difficult to sleep – especially since eczema can get worse at night. [4] [5]


According to the Mayo Clinic, psoriasis is a disease that causes skin to break out in itchy, scaly patches (usually on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp). As with eczema, those suffering from psoriasis may also experience nighttime flare ups, interfering with sleep. [6] [7]


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, certain medications may cause itchy skin; these can include over the counter remedies, like aspirin, as well as prescription medications, such as blood-pressure drugs or high-potency pain relievers. [8]

Underlying Health Issues

As previously mentioned, in some cases itchy skin may be a sign that something more serious is going on, including kidney disease, liver disease, or thyroid problems. If you're experiencing persistently itchy skin, it's important to talk to a doctor to rule out these more serious underlying causes. [9]

Tips for Relieving Itchy Skin at Night

Now that we've explored the more common causes of itchy skin at night, let's discuss some ways to alleviate the problem, so you can get back to uninterrupted sleep.


Let's start with one of the easiest remedies: a simple moisturizing lotion or cream. According to experts, that may be all you need to stop itchy skin in its tracks! [10]

Try to choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, since those can be gentler on your skin, which may prevent further flare-ups. You should also try moisturizing after washing your hands, in order to lock in moisture. [11]

Avoid hot water and harsh soaps

According to this Healthline article, some eczema sufferers turn to hot water as a way to temporarily relieve itching. However, the article also goes on to explain that this usually makes itching worse in the long run – and recommends lukewarm water instead. [12]

Experts also warn that many soaps can cause dermatitis, which in turn leads to itching. As with moisturizer, it's important to choose soaps that are gentle, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic whenever possible. [13]

Cool compresses

Did you know that dermatologists recommend cool compresses as a way to relieve itching? These can be in the form of a damp cloth, ice pack, or even a moist paper towel – and can provide quick, comfortable relief. [14]

Oatmeal baths

In addition to being a nutritious food, oatmeal can also be a great itchy skin home remedy. This WebMD article offers excellent instructions for how to prepare an oatmeal bath (including how to make your own colloidal oatmeal, if you choose to). [15] [16]

Apple cider vinegar

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, apple cider vinegar can help relieve an itchy scalp caused by psoriasis. They recommend choosing an organic apple cider vinegar (and diluting it with water if you find that it irritates your skin). You can read their full recommendation here. [17]

Physician-guided remedies

If you're dealing with a persistent skin condition, you may need to see a doctor in order to diagnose and resolve the issue. Doctors may recommend any number of treatments, including medicated creams or ointments, oral medications, and even light therapy to relieve your itchiness. [18]

There is Hope for Itchy Skin

Itchy skin can be a frustrating and uncomfortable problem, especially when it keeps you up at night. However, there are many ways to relieve this issue. By identifying the cause of your itching, and taking steps to treat it, you can get back to comfortable, uninterrupted, itch-free sleep.


[1] Cleveland Clinic: Dry Skin Symptoms and Causes

[2] American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology - What makes us itch?

[3] American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology - What makes us itch?

[4] NHS - Atopic Eczema

[5] Why Eczema Flares at Night and How to Deal With It

[6] Mayo Clinic - Psoriasis

[7] Why does psoriasis become worse at night? 4 reasons that could be the culprits

[8] - 10 Reasons Your Skin Itches Uncontrollably

[9] Mayo Clinic - Itchy Skin Symptoms and Sources

[10] American Family Physician - what causes dry, itchy skin?

[11] Importance of Moisturizing after Hand Washing

[12] Does hot water make eczema symptoms better for some people?

[13] Riviera Allergy - Contact Dermatitis

[14] How to Relieve Itchy Skin -

[15] Oatmeal Baths for Itchy Skin

[16] 5 Colloidal Oatmeal Benefits and Uses, According to Experts

[17] Integrative Approaches to Care

[18] Itchy skin (pruritus)