Do you feel like scratching your body as soon as you have stepped out of a shower? Rest assured, you are not the only one who has that problem. A mild itchiness, especially after a hot shower in the dry winter months, is not something to worry about.
However, if the irritation persists or makes you scared of stepping into the water again, then maybe you should look for the reasons behind the itch. In this article, we will discuss the causes of itching after a shower and what you can do to get rid of the irritation.
Why Does Skin Itch After A Bath?
The irritation on your skin after a shower may be caused by one or many of the reasons listed below.
1. Dryness Of Skin
The most common culprit behind itchiness post bath is excessively dry skin, a condition also known as xerosis cutis. If you already have dry skin, taking a bath further strips the natural oils on your skin. This makes your skin feel dehydrated and itchy after a bath. If the water is too hot or if you are taking prolonged showers or multiple showers a day, the condition may worsen. In extreme cases, your skin may break and cause mild bleeding.
2. Sensitivity To Cleansers
You may be sensitive to the soap, body shampoo or other products that you are using in the shower. This can be responsible for the urge to scratch during or after you shower. If you are using a strong cleansing agent, it can rip off the skin’s protective barrier and natural oils, making it sensitive and itchy.
Also note that you may be allergic to certain ingredients in cleansers such as foaming agents, fragrances, alcohol or menthol. These may be the culprit behind your irritation post shower. If you are allergic to detergents, your fresh towel from the laundry can also cause you itchiness after you have used it in the shower.
3. Underlying Skin Conditions
Your itchiness post shower may be due to one of the following skin conditions:
This is a rare skin condition in which the patients develop intense itchiness as soon as their skin comes in contact with water.  The itchiness develops mostly in the limbs and upper part of the body, but rarely on the head, face or neck. But there are no rashes or other visible changes on the skin.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease characterised by dry skin, itchiness and recurring rashes.  The skin barrier function is weakened in people with eczema, which makes them more susceptible to sensitivity and irritation of the skin. This may lead to itchiness post shower in eczema patients. 
How Can You Stop The Itching After A Bath?
First and foremost, you need to identify the cause of your itchiness after a shower. You can try some of the following tips to see if they help reduce your irritation. Do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist in case of any doubts.
1. Change Your Shower Routine
Do not shower in water that is too hot. Use lukewarm water that is comfortable to touch.
Make the duration of your shower shorter.
Avoid taking multiple showers in a day.
Do not use harsh scrubbers on your skin. Use a gentle exfoliating agent instead.
2. Switch Soaps
Avoid soaps and cleansers with harsh chemicals, fragrances or menthol. Opt for a milder soap designed for sensitive skin. You can also try bath salts, herbal soaps or natural cleaners such as fuller’s earth in place of your regular soap. It is important to choose hypoallergenic products that suit your unique skin type.
3. Towel It Right
Do not rub wet skin right after a shower. This can cause the protective layer of your skin to be ripped off, causing irritation. Pat your skin dry in a gentle manner, with a clean towel. Change the laundry detergent used to clean your towel, if you feel that you may be allergic to the detergent.
Use a moisturiser all over your body right after you have stepped out of the shower. This will replenish the lost moisture on skin and help soothe irritation. You can chill your moisturizer in a fridge to further enhance the soothing effect.
You can also try using body oils or petroleum jelly before stepping into a shower. This will create a protective layer on your skin and prevent damage to the skin barrier while showering.
Also drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated and prevent itchiness in the long run.
5. Anti-itching Formulations
You can use a cooling agent such as calamine to reduce the itching after a bath. If the irritation is too uncomfortable, you can also try using over-the-counter corticosteroid creams. But it is best to consult your doctor if your itchiness bothers you too much.
6. Treatment Of Skin Conditions
If your itchiness is due to an underlying skin condition such as eczema or aquagenic pruritus, then your doctor is the best person to diagnose and suggest a suitable treatment option for you.
Can Itchy Skin Be A Sign Of Something Serious?
While itchy skin after a shower may be a common phenomenon, in some cases it might point to serious health conditions as discussed below.
1. Polycythemia Vera (PV)
PV is a condition which leads to overproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow.  This causes the blood to become denser and more prone to clotting. This in turn increases the risk of a heart attack or heart failure.
Itchiness after a warm bath is one of the common symptoms, along with headache, shortness of breath, fatigue etc. Your doctor might suggest light therapy to relieve itchiness due to PV.
2. Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Itchiness triggered by a shower may also point towards Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is a cancer of the lymph nodes marked by excessive production of B-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells.  Adding a small amount of baking soda to your bathing water may prevent itchiness after shower, if you have this condition.
When To See A Doctor About Itchy Skin?
If you have severe and persistent itching every time you step into the shower, maybe it is a good idea to visit your dermatologist, to rule out any serious health issues. Your doctor can prescribe allergy tests or skin biopsies to diagnose the exact reason behind your irritation.
Certain neurological and mental disorders may be responsible for the itching condition which can be detected by a qualified healthcare professional. If you have conditions such as eczema or allergies, it is important to be in touch with your dermatologist on a regular basis.
Itchiness after a shower is uncomfortable. But, in most cases it can be easily dealt with through proper shower habits and ample moisturisation. However, in some cases the irritation may be severe or caused by a more serious health issue. So, if the tips mentioned above do not help reduce your itchiness, do consult your dermatologist.
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