Itchy Skin at Night


What is itchy skin at night?

Itchy skin at night, also known as nocturnal pruritus, happens when you have the urge to itch and scratch your skin in the middle of the night. This can disturb your sleep. Itchy skin at night can happen because of changes to your body temperature, dry skin or as a symptom of an underlying condition.

Who does itchy skin at night affect?

Itchy skin at night is common and has several possible causes, which means it can happen to anyone at any age. You may be more at risk of developing itchy skin at night if you:

  • Are 65 years or older.
  • Have allergies.
  • Bathe frequently.
  • Have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.
  • Are pregnant or experiencing hormonal changes.
  • Have diabetes, certain types of cancers or kidney failure.
  • Have your heater on in the winter.

How does itchy skin at night affect my body?

If you have itchy skin at night, your instinct to scratch your skin can wake you up and prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. This can affect your physical performance the next day and your mental stamina, especially if you’re unable to get a full night’s sleep consistently. If you itch your skin to soothe it, you’re at a higher risk of breaking open your skin and getting an infection.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of itchy skin at night?

The main symptom of itchy skin overnight is having the urge to scratch your skin in the middle of the night. Additional symptoms of itchy skin at night include:

  • Daytime fatigue.
  • A patch of bumps, welts or a rash.
  • Patches of dry, cracked, scaly, leathery or flaky skin.
  • Scratch marks.
  • Color changes to your skin, which is lighter or darker than your normal skin tone or red to purple.
  • Sores or areas of your skin that break open and bleed lightly.
  • Scarring of your skin.
  • Pain or a burning sensation.
  • A wound that won’t heal that has a crusty, yellow texture and leaks fluid (infection).

You might only experience a couple of symptoms or you could experience several symptoms at the same time depending on what causes your itchy skin and how often you itch. For example, you might have itchy skin at night but not have a rash or any physical symptoms.

Where do symptoms of itchy skin at night affect my body?

The most common places to have itchy skin at night are on your torso, arms and legs, but the condition can affect any part of your skin.

What causes itchy skin at night?

There are several possible causes of itchy skin at night that include:

  • An autoimmune response: Your body’s immune cells may attack healthy cells, mistaking them for a foreign invader, which causes inflammation (swelling) and itching.
  • Body temperature: If you have a high body temperature at night, you could have itchy skin.
  • Dry skin: Your body loses moisture at night, which can make your skin itchy.
  • Hormonal changes: At night, your body doesn’t produce as many hormones as it does during the day and certain hormones reduce inflammation (swelling). As you have fewer hormones at night, your skin could be itchy.
  • Higher temperatures with low humidity, such as the environment produced by home heating in the winter.

What conditions cause itchy skin at night?

Your itchy skin at night could be a symptom of an underlying condition, including:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is itchy skin at night diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will diagnose itchy skin at night after taking a complete medical history and performing a physical exam. They might ask you questions to learn more about what’s causing your symptoms, like:

  • When did you notice your symptoms start?
  • Is a rash present on your body?
  • Are you using any new skin care products, soaps, detergents or lotions?
  • Have there been any major changes to your health recently?
  • Is your itchy skin at night preventing you from getting a full night’s rest?
  • What clothing do you wear to bed?
  • Do you have any allergies?

What tests diagnose itchy skin at night?

Tests might be necessary to determine what’s causing your itchy skin at night. Tests could include:

Management and Treatment

How is itchy skin at night treated?

Treatment for itchy skin at night varies based on the cause and could include:

  • Managing or treating any underlying conditions.
  • Changing your hygiene routine by bathing before you go to bed.
  • Using a lotion or moisturizer during the day and before bed.
  • Applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream to your skin.
  • Adjusting the temperature in your bedroom to be cool (between 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 69 F / 15.55 degrees Celsius to 20.55 C).
  • Applying a cool, wet compress to your skin.
  • Taking melatonin supplements, antihistamines, antidepressants or medication prescribed by your provider.
  • Meeting with a mental health professional to manage stress, anxiety or depression.

Are there side effects of itchy skin at night?

There may be side effects to the medication your provider prescribes to treat your itchy skin. Before starting any new medications, talk to your provider about the potential side effects.

How do I take care of myself to manage my symptoms?

Your symptoms will give you the urge to scratch your itchy skin at night and you might not feel relief until you do. But try your best not to scratch your skin. Scratching your itchy skin can cause your skin to break open and bleed, which could lead to an infection. Use an anti-itch cream, moisturizer or cold compress for immediate relief. If your itchy skin continues, talk to your provider about additional treatment options.

How soon after treatment will I feel better?

You could feel immediate relief after applying a cream, lotion or moisturizer to your itchy skin, but your symptoms could take several days to several weeks before they go away completely. The timeline for when you’ll feel better varies based on the cause and your provider’s recommended treatment plan. The length of time for your symptoms to go away usually takes a few months or longer if an underlying condition caused your itchy skin at night.


How can I prevent itchy skin at night?

While you can’t prevent all cases of itchy skin at night, you can reduce your risk of getting itchy skin at night by:

  • Using a humidifier in your home.
  • Regularly applying moisturizer to your skin throughout the day and before bed.
  • Wearing soft clothing to bed, like cotton material.
  • Getting your body ready for bed by removing stress or anxiety (limiting screen time, meditating, yoga).
  • Following up regularly with your provider to identify any potential underlying conditions.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have itchy skin at night?

Itchy skin at night can disturb your sleeping pattern and cause you to not be able to get a good night’s rest. You might feel tired during the day or you could wake up with pain and a sore feeling from scratching your skin.

If you have itchy skin at night, try not to scratch the itch. This can be uncomfortable. You’re at an increased risk of developing an infection if your skin breaks open from scratching it.

There are several possible causes of this condition that offer different treatment options to help your itchy skin go away.

For immediate relief, you can apply a moisturizer or an anti-itch cream to soothe your skin. A cool compress can be helpful to calm your irritated skin as well.

The cure for itchy skin at night is to determine the underlying cause and receive treatment or work with a healthcare provider to manage the underlying diagnosis to help you get a full night’s rest.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Visit your healthcare provider if your itchy skin at night prevents you from sleeping, gets worse after treatment or you have signs of an infection (fever, a wound that won’t heal, pain) due to scratching your itchy skin.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • What caused my itchy skin at night?
  • Do you recommend any lotions or moisturizers?
  • How do I improve my sleeping habits?
  • Will my itchy skin come back after it goes away?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is nocturnal pruritus ani?

Nocturnal pruritus ani is anal itching at night. Symptoms of this condition cause your anal area to itch, which can disturb your ability to sleep at night.

Can candida cause itchy skin at night?

Yes. Candida albicans is a type of yeast (fungus) that lives on your body. You naturally have small amounts of this fungus on your body at all times. Sometimes, candida can overgrow and cause symptoms of itching. You might experience itchiness from candida near your genitals or your mouth.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It can be very uncomfortable to have itchy skin at night, which can make sleeping difficult. The condition can affect your physical and mental performance and lead to an infection if your skin breaks open from scratching. Visit your healthcare provider if you have itchy skin at night. They’ll help you find the cause and a treatment plan to make the condition go away.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/25/2022.


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  • Lavery MJ, Stull C, Kinney MO, et al. Nocturnal Pruritus: The Battle for a Peaceful Night's Sleep. ( International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;17(3),425. Accessed 10/25/2022.
  • Merck Manual. Itching. ( Accessed 10/25/2022.
  • Podder I, Mondal H, & Kroumpouzos G. Nocturnal Pruritus and Sleep Disturbance Associated with Dermatologic Disorders in Adult Patients. ( International Journal of Women's Dermatology. 2021;7(4),403–410. Accessed 10/25/2022.

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