A few years ago, I strangely began to experience body itching after I take a bath. I was in school, in a new environment, the water was expected to be different from how it had always been back at home and I knew I needed to make some changes too. The first thing that I needed to try was to change my soup, use water antiseptics and change my bathing sponge altogether. I did all these but the condition did not seem to improve. Things were getting more serious.
As usual, when I experience things like this, I go the extra length to check the internet for what the condition may likely be. I headed straight to Google, punched in the words, "why does my body itch after bathing". I was trying to keep it short, concise and straight to the point so that I could get the best solution to my problems. But the results I found either addressed a different issue other than what I was experiencing or were just not specific enough to address the problem.
Over the years, I have come to adapt well to this condition and I will tell you what these modifications are in a moment, and thereafter tell you what exactly to do to fully get rid of it. I had visited the hospital for medical care but I got the same management protocol - modify your soap, boil your water before bathing, and so on.
For some time, boiling water and bathing with it while it is still quite hot seemed to alleviate the suffering. So, I had to keep on with it. I succeeded in boiling my bathing water for up to a year. I know you would exclaim, "That could have been expensive". You would, right? But that was the price I needed to pay to have peace after my bath. I wanted to understand this condition and it took me really long to fully understand it.
All through the time I experienced this itching after having a bath, it was as though no one else had ever experienced this condition. If they have, why has no one else opened up to tell what worked for them in relieving the itches? Soon, I got a clear answer to my question when more than three different people I knew complained of the same condition to me, in a bid to find solutions to the problem. That was when I knew that if I found a solution, it will not just be for myself alone.
How Does The Itching Feel?
You go into the shower with no problems. Soon you are done with the shower, you wipe yourself clean with the towel and this is when you start experiencing the non-remitting body itching all over your body.
The body itches can be described as "tiny" itches on the skin that seems as though they were jumping from one place to the other. You experience one on your back now, the next second you experience another on your hand, the next your leg, and so on. Another characteristic feature associated with these body itches is that they become worse when you think about it, or when you think about other unpleasant things in your surrounding, like dirt, dark or dirty colours, etc. It is often aggravated when you scrub your skin with a sponge while bathing.
The itch is usually associated with the eventual development of skin rashes called eczema, especially on your trunk, neck and back. These rashes may be cleared temporarily by triple action creams containing a corticosteroid, an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. But would later reappear on cessation of treatment as long as bathing and itching continue.
What Is It And What Causes It?
There are so many medical causes of body itching. But in this case, there is often a trigger or precipitant: bathing or sometimes damp skin. Medically, whenever there is a physical, chemical or biological precipitant to any reactions like itching, running nose, red skin or weals, or red eyes, you should first suspect an allergic cause.
For years, I considered allergy on the top of the list. So I was trying to find the precipitant in the water, soap or sponge so I can probably discontinue it but I found none. So, even though this body itching seemed to resemble allergies, there was nothing to specifically link it with except the bath. So what causes this body itching?
It is caused by some hypersensitivity or allergic reactions on your skin and is associated with an underlying fungal skin infection. One of the conditions I came across when I was doing my research was aquagenic urticaria or water allergy, where people react to nothing else but the water itself. This is an extremely rare condition and what you may be experiencing may be totally different from it. You may consider aquagenic urticaria if you noticed the symptoms early in your life and if it presents with severe itching and redness of your skin. But this is not often the case.
This is also referred to as contact dermatitis, and it describes an allergic condition that occurs when you make contact with certain agents you are hypersensitive to. Hypersensitivity is defined as an exaggerated immune response to something that should not normally elicit such responses. In allergies, you can easily link exposure to some agent to the time of onset of the symptoms. If you experience body itching at times other than bathing, or you can identify what is exactly responsible for the body itching, you may consider allergic dermatitis as the reason for your persistent body itching.
Fungal skin infection
After many years of research and questioning, I finally settled for this as the primary cause of the body itching I experienced after taking a bath. Fungal infections of the skin are generally referred to as "dermatophytosis". Several fungal species have been implicated in the causation of fungal skin infections, however, the mechanism with which they cause allergic itching after a bath may be related to two things:
- The presence of the fungi on the skin already causes some irritations or reactions that you may notice even when you have not taken a bath, maybe when you scratch your skin for any other reason, or when your skin is moist with sweat. Bathing may particularly make the itching appear or worse if already being noticed because it increases skin moisture.
- Also, the soap, or sponging or even water antiseptics you use for bathing may irritate the fungi already present on the skin, and make them release more toxins. These toxins can further induce hypersensitivity reactions which you experience as body itching.
Other Uncommon Causes of Skin Itching
- Liver failure
- Renal failure
- Drug reactions
- Exposure to other allergens like hay, pollen, etc
What I Tried And What Finally Worked
You would naturally expect that I tried a lot of things, having been through this condition for more than seven years. Some of the things I tried provided some temporary relief but these did not last long. It was just recently that I gained a full understanding of what was actually the cause of the body itching and how to go about stopping it completely. Here are some things I tried and what I finally realised;
- I changed my bathing soap: I thought the allergen was in the soap; could there be something in the soap my body does not like? I thought it was glycerin and other substances used in the manufacture of soaps. So, I opted for milder soaps. This gave some temporary relief but never completely stopped the body itches.
- I started using antiseptics: What if there was some dirt or bacteria from the water tank that was triggering these body itching reactions? Maybe the water was not clean enough. So, I made the use of antiseptics a custom, bought a can of Dettol antiseptic solution. I enjoyed the feel of a new scent while bathing but this did not seem to relieve the body itching at all. Instead, it made it even worse.
- I stopped scrubbing my skin: Who said you must scrub your skin before it becomes clean? At least, I am now able to prove it, after years of not scrubbing my skin because of the body itches I experienced after bathing. I stopped using my sponge because I discovered that sponging, especially when you vigorously do so, aggravates the body itching. As a matter of fact, I can say with all certainty that this method worked effectively. The itches reduce or even stops through very long periods.
- I boiled my water and bathed with it while still quite hot: Doing this every day is not only cumbersome but also not so cost-friendly, especially if your source of cooking energy is purchased at a relatively high price. I was able to do this because I had electric boiling equipment to heat up the water. The temperature of the water matter a lot as far as hypersensitivity skin reactions are concerned. A cold temperature favour these itches more, hence, you should not end at just boiling the water but you must ensure that you bathe with it while it is still quite hot, that is, a little hotter than lukewarm.
- I changed my body cream: People with dry skin are more likely prone to skin injuries that may lead to fungal or bacterial skin infections. Dry skin is also more sensitive to allergens. There are, therefore, two logical reasons why changing body cream may be helpful in reducing body itches after a bath. First, just like you could have for your bathing soap, your body cream could also have some chemical compounds that your skin may be hypersensitive to. Secondly, if you have dry skin, changing to a better moisturizing cream may not only be appropriate but may be life-changing. In my own experience, changing cream may be effective to some extent. Using a moisturizing body lotion is protective, particularly for people with dry skin but its effectiveness for body itches after bathing would be somewhere between 30 and 45 per cent.
What You Should Do To Stop Body Itching After Having A Bath
Apart from some of the things above, here are some things you should do to stop the body itching that occurs after you have a bath. I applied some of these methods too, and I currently still adopt some of them:
- Good personal hygiene
- Use medications
- Avoid scrubbing skin while itching still persists
Good personal hygiene
Fungal organisms are said to be ubiquitous, that is, they are found almost everywhere; on your furniture, clothes, rugs, mattress, books, and in this case, your towel and even your soap. That is why any material grows moulds when you leave in a damp environment for a while.
Your towel is a typical example of a material that can harbour fungi, allow their growth and production of spores. Since it is a damp object, using it without regularly washing and keeping it as dry as possible in a well-aerated and dry environment, can turn it into a medium suitable for the growth of fungi. The bad thing is that you may not be able to see the fungi growth with your own eyes, but they will always be transmitted to your skin when you use the towel that harbours them.
Good personal hygiene also entails that you bathe more regularly, at least twice a day. Bathing is especially important when you might have had a very active, sweaty day.
These are all to ensure that you do not encourage fungal growth or leave allergens (substances that can cause allergies) on your body.
The use of medication in treating body itching can generally be classified into two major categories; preventive and curative. The preventive medications for body itching are those that help prevent body itching even before they occur, while the curative help suppresses body itching after its onset. The same kinds of medications can be used for both preventive and curative.
Anti-histamines are a class of medications that help stop or prevent body itching. The use of these drugs helped me gain good insight into what the real cause of this type of body itching is, and here is why. Whenever I used anti-histamines for body itching after having my bath, I noticed that they never worked. These drugs are supposed to be anti-pruritic (anti-itching), but why were they not effective in this case? They work by inhibiting histamine, a chemical substance produced in the blood and implicated in the itching effect, and other systemic effects. Since they were not working, I figured out that this may be because whatever is causing the body itching is on the skin, is producing the toxin on the skin and is inducing the histamine production still on the skin. This means that anti-histamine taken through the mouth which goes into the blood may not have great access to the outer skin, and thus less effective for this type of body itching after a bath.
Topical antifungal medications (rubbed on the skin), especially the triple action creams (anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory), works temporarily by clearing the fungi on the skin and preventing inflammatory reactions. But the side effect of these is that they can cause some itching sensations while they act. This is because as they irritate the dying fungi, these fungi release more toxins to the skin.
The definitive class of drugs that worked with great effectiveness are the anti-fungal tablets, e.g Ketoconazole tablets. When taken at the prescribed doses, they help treat fungal skin infections. They should be taken for a long time, say up to 2 weeks, to help clear off the pathogenic fungi from the skin.
After these, it is important that you continue with your good personal hygiene to prevent further inoculation of your skin with new fungi.
Avoid scrubbing skin while itching still persists
While you take these medications and adhere to good personal hygiene practices, the itching may not disappear instantly. It may take some while. During this period, you should avoid scrubbing your skin with a sponge. Bathe with only soap and water for as long as you can demonstrate that you do not feel abnormal sensations on your skin. Don't worry, you won't stink for not bathing with the sponge.
I understand what it feels when you have body itches after a bath. I have been through it and here are some things you can try to prevent and treat those body itches and the cause(s). I hope this helps you. Don't forget to come back to give us your feedback even if it takes up to 2-3 weeks.
Thank you for your time.