Itchy skin at night is a condition where you have the desire to scratch your skin to soothe the itch. This feeling gets worse in the middle of the night or when your body’s at rest. There are several possible causes that could be the result of natural changes to your body that happen at night or it could be a symptom of an underlying condition.
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.
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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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
There are several possible causes of itchy skin at night that include:
Your itchy skin at night could be a symptom of an underlying condition, including:
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:
Tests might be necessary to determine what’s causing your itchy skin at night. Tests could include:
Treatment for itchy skin at night varies based on the cause and could include:
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.
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.
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.
While you can’t prevent all cases of itchy skin at night, you can reduce your risk of getting itchy skin at night by:
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.
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.
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.
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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