You’ve ruled out dry skin – yet your scratching just won’t quit. One of these three top culprits may be to blame. Finally, mystery solved.

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You’ve ruled out dry skin – yet your scratching just won’t quit.
One of these three top culprits may be to blame. Finally, mystery solved.
If your ears and face itch...

Seasonal allergies are likely the problem.

“In this case, your body produces allergic antibodies in response to allergens like plant pollen or mould. High levels of these antibodies can lead to inflammation, which in turn can cause itchiness,” says Dr Kanao Otsu, an assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at National Jewish Health.

Common spots affected are your ears, nose, mouth, eyes and throat, but some people may wind up scratching head to toe.

Your best bet for relief: Combine a long-acting oral antihistamine with a topical anti-itch cream, says Dr David Bank, the founder and director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery.

Use it with a topical like Aveeno Anti-itch Concentrated Lotion.

The antihistamine will block the production of allergic antibodies to prevent more irritation, while the moisturiser will ease your skin.

If your itchiness gets worse at night...

You may have eczema (or dermatitis), a condition that occurs when your body has an oversized immune reaction to an irritant, an allergen or even stress, creating itch-inducing skin inflammation.

Most people associate the condition with a bumpy red rash, but Dr Bank says it’s possible to experience itchiness without any visible irritation. What’s more, it can be tough to determine what, if anything, is causing the reaction. “After being exposed to something you’re sensitive to, it can take three to four weeks for your immune system to act and make you feel itchy,” Dr Bank says.

One clue that your problem goes beyond typical dry skin: If you tend to get itchier at night, then eczema may be to blame, Dr Otsu says. In that case, switch to gentle, super-hydrating, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturisers. Fragrance is a top trigger for flare-ups, Dr Bank says. Try Cetaphil Restoraderm Skin Restoring Body Wash ($29.90, Guardian). If these remedies don’t help, you may want to ask your doctor for stronger prescription options.

If you have flaky, dry patches...

You could be dealing with psoriasis, a genetic disorder that causes your body to produce skin cells at a faster-thannormal rate. The cells build up into red, flaky patches that itch and may also burn or tingle.

Other telltale symptoms include occasional joint stiffness and brittle fingernails.

You may find relief with a hydrocortisone cream, like Cerave Hydrocortisone Anti-itch Cream (prices vary, www.qoo10.sg), Dr Bank says. You can also spend a few minutes a day letting the affected area soak up some sun.

He says that the UV rays can have an antiinflammatory effect that “turns down” the activity of the immune cells.
Otherwise, make an appointment with your dermatologist: You may need a prescription psoriasis medication.