Common causes of itching (also known as pruritus) include dry skin, seasonal allergies, and skin contact with an irritant.
Antibiotics, antifungal, and narcotic pain medications sometimes lead to an itchy face as a side effect.
Reading: Why is my face itchy
Less often, an itchy face stems from an internal condition, such as liver disease, thyroid conditions, cancer, or multiple sclerosis. Nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, can also cause itching.
Identifying other symptoms that occur along with your itchy face might help to diagnose the cause. Here are five specific scenarios for having an itchy face and their most common causes.
Itchy face with a rash
If you have an itchy face along with a rash or hives, or contact dermatitis, you may be having an allergic reaction. In an allergic reaction, your immune system responds to something you’ve come into contact with.
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Itching and rash can also be caused by your skin coming into contact with an irritant (without causing your immune system to react), like cleaning chemicals, certain soaps, or some foods.
Psoriasis, rosacea, and perioral dermatitis are all skin conditions that can cause itching along with raised red bumps on your face.
You could also be experiencing a heat rash.
Itchy face without a rash
An itchy face without a rash can seem like a bit of a mystery. Looking to other symptoms can help you figure out where the itch is coming from:
- If you have an itchy face, no rash, but are experiencing trouble breathing, have a yellowish tinge to your eyes, enlarged glands, and dehydration, you should see your doctor right away. These symptoms could indicate liver problems, jaundice, or Hodgkin’s disease.
- If you have an itchy face, no rash, and no other major symptoms:
- You may be iron deficient. (If iron deficiency anemia intensifies, symptoms can become more prominent.)
- You may be having a mild allergic reaction to something new in your environment.
- You may have the most common cause of an itchy face: dry skin.
- You may be sensitive to the water in your bath or shower. For instance, hard water (water that has a high mineral count) can dry out your skin. You might be able to tell if you have hard water: look for signs of white build-up (mineral deposits) on sink and shower faucets.
Itchy face with pimples
Acne bumps sometimes cause itching — and itching your acne may spread bacteria and as a result more acne over your face. Itchy pimples can be influenced by sweating, cosmetics, clogged pores, or hormones.
If your face itches and you also have pimples or cysts, you may have acne vulgaris (regular acne) or cystic acne, which is worth talking to a doctor about for the most effective treatments.
Itchy face while pregnant
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Developing an itchy face because of your pregnancy is somewhat rare, but it does happen.
While itching on your body and your baby bump is common during pregnancy, excessive itching on your face and on your hands and feet could be a symptom of a condition called obstetric cholestasis.
This condition comes without a rash. It also brings symptoms of dark urine and pale bowel movements. Obstetric cholestasis typically crops up around 30 weeks of pregnancy.
It needs to be diagnosed and addressed, so speak to your doctor right away if you have anything beyond mild itching during pregnancy.
A neuropathic face itch is caused by the sensors in your face detecting an irritant where one is not present. This is known as a type of sensory hallucination.
Sometimes neurological health conditions, like shingles and multiple sclerosis, can contribute to this feeling of itching.
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