Recent Blog Articles

Diseases & Conditions

Why am I itchy all over?

January 1, 2021

The potential causes may be hard to pin down. Here are some of the most common ones — and what to do about them.

dc7a9377-7430-4e62-9d7e-feb97b873f9fSometimes it's easy to know why a particular part of your body is itchy. Maybe you have a bug bite, allergies, or a visible skin condition such as eczema. It's harder to know the cause when there's nothing obvious behind all-over, generalized itching. "It's the most common skin complaint in people over age 65," says Dr. Kenneth Arndt, a dermatologist and former medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Skin Care and Repair.

Potential causes

Generalized itching has many potential triggers. One is aging. "The skin barrier doesn't work as well as it used to, and things that may not have irritated you before may now be absorbed in the skin and cause itching," Dr. Arndt explains. "The skin also develops a somewhat impaired immune response, a reduction in fat and blood flow, and altered sensory perception, making it more prone to itching."

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.