Your itchy skin may indicate a kidney condition; research finds a connection
11/18/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

Having itchy skin can mean a lot of things, but what if it's more frequent and more severe than normal? A study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggested that this may be a sign of a kidney problem. The study’s researchers found that extremely itchy skin, known as pruritus, affects many people with chronic kidney disease.

For the study, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan looked at the prevalence of itchy skin in people with kidney disease and its various negative effects on health and well-being. To do so, they asked a total of 3,780 people with stages 3 to 5 chronic kidney disease to answer a question about pruritus.

The results showed that the prevalence of moderate to extreme itchy skin was 24 percent and was more common in older patients, women, and those with non-dialysis stage 5 chronic kidney disease, lung disease, diabetes, and depression.

In the questionnaire given to the participants, the results revealed that individuals with itchy skin were more likely to have poorer mental and physical health, lower quality of life, and a greater risk of suffering from depression and restless sleep. These patient-reported outcomes were progressively worse with increasing severity of itchy skin.

“One of the main goals of managing chronic disease is alleviating symptoms; however, this is only possible when we are aware of the suffering patients endure,” said Dr. Nidhi Sukul of the University of Michigan.

The research team said that their findings offer a uniquely international look at how important it is to ask our patients with chronic kidney disease if and how they are affected by pruritus. There are some treatments that improve pruritus-related symptoms for a substantial percentage of patients – however, it is still important to recognize that pruritus ails patients and affects their quality of life. (Related: Are Itchy Skin Disorders Driving You Crazy? What to do when the doctors tell you it’s all in your head (press release).)


Relieving itchy skin naturally

Itchy skin can occur as a result of a skin condition, such as eczema, hives, psoriasis, or shingles. In some cases, it could be a sign of a disease, such as scabies or ringworm. Here are several things you can do at home to relieve itchy skin:

  • Apply cold compress – Apply a cold, wet cloth or an ice pack to the affected area. Do this for about five to 10 minutes or until the itch decreases.
  • Take an oatmeal bath – An oatmeal bath can be very soothing, especially for blisters or oozing skin due to chickenpox, hives, poison ivy, or sunburn.
  • Apply moisturizer – Moisturizing your skin is an important part of skin care. Always choose a moisturizer that is free of additives, fragrances, and perfumes.
  • Apply natural cooling agents – Some cooling agents you can use are menthol or calamine. You can also use your moisturizer as a cooling agent. Simply store it in the refrigerator to help achieve this cooling effect.
  • Bathe with lukewarm water – Bathing with lukewarm (not hot) water for 10 minutes can help soothe and prevent itching.
  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes – Using wool and other rough-feeling fabrics can irritate your skin, resulting in intense itching.

While treating your skin, it is important to avoid scratching it as much as possible, as this will irritate your skin more. This could also increase your risk for a skin infection.

Learn more natural remedies on relieving itchy skin and other skin woes at

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