But sometimes, no matter what you think you’re doing right, the result isn’t the so-fresh-and-so-clean feeling you expected. Case in point: For some folks, stepping out of the shower equals itchy skin. If this is one of the shower-time woes you struggle with, the good news is that itchy skin after showering is actually pretty common. In most cases, it is easy to fix. Here are some of the things that might be causing the itchy post-shower feeling and some pro tips on making it stop once and for all.
What are the causes of itchy skin after a shower?
Your skin is dry: According to Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, dry skin is one of the most common reasons people get itchy skin after a shower. The dryness can be due to several things, including very cold or dry temperatures, indoor heating that reduces moisture in the air or washing your skin a little too often.
Your showers might be too hot: In this world, there are two types of showerers. You have those who prefer comfortable, lukewarm showers, and those who live for their super hot (read: borderline scalding) showers. If you fall into the latter category, chances are it’s the hot shower itself that might be causing your skin to itch. “When you finish your shower or bath, the water that is left on your skin evaporates, and as it does, it sucks moisture from your skin,” says Sandra Lee, MD, dermatologist and founder of SLMD Skincare, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper. “This dryness is exacerbated by taking hot showers because heat causes more evaporation.”
Your cleanser may be the culprit: If you’re a self-professed cleanser queen, itchy skin might be a sign that you need to simplify. “Heavy use of soaps and cleansers strip the natural oils that moisturize our skin from our bodies,” Dr. Lee says. “This leads to more dryness, and dryness leads to itchiness, which can lead to redness and scaling.”
There may be an underlying condition: If your itchy skin after showers is chronic, Dr. Axe says it could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as contact dermatitis (aka you're reacting to a product in your skin-washing regimen) or eczema.
What are some underlying causes of chronic itchy skin?
If your itchy skin after showers is chronic, Dr. Axe says it could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as contact dermatitis (aka you're reacting to a product in your skin-washing regimen) or 3330eczema.
Ecze3ma: Orit Markowitz, MD, a dermatologist and founder of OptiSkin, says eczema can be a big culprit. “It’s important when treating eczema to break the itch-scratch cycle—rubbing the skin makes it more inflamed and itchier. This can be achieved with sealant moisturizers like Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment Body Spray and the avoidance of scrubs and harsh soaps or detergents.” She added, “Also, eczema or dry, itchy skin is common in the colder winter months. Taking a warm (not hot) shower or bath for approximately 5-10 minutes while washing the skin with a gentle cleansing bar will help as well as Oatmeal baths.”
Psoriasis: According to the Mayo Clinic describes it as red scaly patches around the skin. While it isn't clear what officially causes it, it can be triggered by weather, stress, and infections, to name a few.
Menopause: Markowitz also says, “Menopause can cause the skin to itch as estrogen levels move from a dynamic cycle to stagnant low levels. When this happens, our hormones have increased levels of cortisol which leads to drying and weathering of the skin which can cause [itchiness].” She recommends a simple way to fix this. “Applying a cortisone cream can help the itching, but in the overall picture, everyone has their own unique symptoms during menopause, dry, itchy skin can just be one of them.”
Allergic reactions: Soaps, shampoo, detergents, materials, and other substances you use during shower-time can cause rashes and itchiness, the Mayo Clinic explains. Additionally, other factors like cosmetics and medications can cause itching, so it’s important to think deeply about any environmental factors that might have triggered the itch.
How to deal with itchy skin after a shower
Take shorter, cooler showers: Taking short, cool showers is the first (and easiest!) thing Dr. Axe says you can try to ease the post-shower. Think warm, not scalding.
Use a gentle cleanser: If you have an inkling that perhaps it’s your cleanser that’s making your skin itchy, Sonia Batra, MD, board-certified dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors recommends switching to a gentle cleanser made for dry, sensitive skin, which tends to use kinder surfactants. Harsh soaps with bright colors, strong lathers, and fancy fragrances will only dry out your skin, even more, she says. Live by these words: The simpler the cleanser, the better.
Apply moisturizer while you’re still damp: Although your first instinct might be to grab your towel to dry off as soon as you get out of the shower, Dr. Lee says to pat dry and slather your body in moisturizer while you’re skin is damp to help lock in the moisture. You can also reapply moisturizer throughout the day as needed.
Be sure to stay away from moisturizers with fragrances as they can create irritant reactions with already-itchy skin. Instead, Dr. Axe recommends natural skin moisturizers that are rich in jojoba oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, cocoa butter, and shea butter. If you need something more heavy-duty for those extremely dry patches, Dr. Lee suggests trying a thick, occlusive ointment to spot treat.
Take an Oatmeal Bath: Adkins recommends taking an oatmeal bath, saying, “This can be very soothing, especially for blisters or oozing skin due to chickenpox, hives, poison ivy or sunburn.” Along with that, Adkins says to moisturize your skin. “Always choose a moisturizer free of additives, fragrances, and perfumes.”
Pinpoint the environmental triggers: If the after-shower itchiness is chronic, Dr. Axe suggests doing a bit of investigative work to nail down what might be triggering it. It could be a number of things in your environment including cosmetic products, laundry detergents, soaps, and lotions. Keep a notebook handy and write down when the itchiness happens and remember what products you used or what other environmental factors might have caused the reaction.
Topical Medication: Markowitz added that a reaction to topical medications and/or creams can cause itchy skin. She recommended, “The best way to tell is by testing a small amount on the inside of your forearm. If after 24 hours, you don’t have any irritation or itching, then it’s safe to apply to your face (or anywhere else on your body) but I recommend not applying to the face without testing it first.”
Go see a professional: If you’ve switched to cooler showers, swapped out your soaps, and tried to pinpoint the triggers and still have no relief, then it's likely time to go to see a board-certified dermatologist. They’ll help you get to the root of what’s causing the itchiness or prescribe you a topical cream or something else that can ease the itch.
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