6 reasons it can itch after you shower


Itching after a hot bath or shower is not uncommon. This usually happens during the winter months and only lasts a few minutes. However, itching after a shower can be chronic, severe, and even debilitating for some people.

Several conditions can cause itching after you shower. Most are harmless, but some can be serious. Your healthcare professional should examine red, chapped, or irritated skin after you shower.

This article looks at common and unusual causes of itching after showering. It also discusses various medications and home remedies to help relieve itching.

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Winter itch

Xerosis , more commonly known as winter itch, is common in cold, dry climates. It can affect people of all ages, but older people are especially at risk.

Symptoms of xerosis include skin:

  • Dried
  • That causes itching
  • Scaly
  • Red

Xerosis can also cause painful cracks in the skin of the arms and legs.

What Causes Xerosis?

Xerosis is caused by environmental conditions that reduce the amount of sebum on the skin. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Forms a protective barrier that helps keep skin hydrated.

In winter, dry and warm indoor air can cleanse the skin of sebum. The problem is exacerbated by prolonged hot showers or baths. Exposure to the sun and wind can also make it worse. Topical acne medications can also cause xerosis.

Although xerosis usually only occurs in winter, it can become chronic. This is called asteatous eczema .

Treatment for itching in winter

Itching in winter can usually be treated with home remedies. These steps can help:

  • Take a short shower with lukewarm water.
  • Gently wash with a soft cloth.
  • Use unscented soap.
  • Pat yourself dry and immediately apply an unscented moisturizer.
  • Remember to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Humidify the air in your home if necessary.
  • Apply moisturizer often (especially right after a bath or shower).
  • Try corticosteroid cream , calamine lotion, or mentholated creams.


Winter itchiness, or xerosis, is a common cause of itching after a shower. This is because the dry winter air removes sebum from the skin. Prolonged hot showers can further dry out the skin.

The itching of xerosis is often relieved by applying a moisturizer. A shorter shower with warm water instead of hot water can also help.

Polycythemia vera

Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic bone marrow disorder. This causes an overproduction of red blood cells. As a result, people with PV have thicker blood and an increased risk of blood clots.

Symptoms of PV include:

  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Visual changes
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • "Ruddy" complexion (redness of the face).
  • Itching, especially after a hot shower or bath

PV can be diagnosed with a simple blood test called a hematocrit . This test measures the proportion of red blood cells in your blood volume.

Watch out

PV cannot be cured, but its symptoms can usually be controlled. Treatment is aimed at reducing the risk of blood clots. This can include taking blood from a vein periodically and taking low-dose aspirin.

Prescription drugs can lower the red blood cell count. This includes:

  • Busulfan
  • Chlorambucil
  • Hydroxyurea
  • Alpha interferon
  • Ruxolitinib

In some cases, a bone marrow transplant may be required.

PV and itching

The mild itching associated with PV can be controlled by avoiding triggers. Common triggers are prolonged hot showers and hot environments.

Severe itching or itching that does not respond to home remedies can be treated with medication. These include over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine .

Phototherapy can be used for people with more severe or persistent itching. Also known as phototherapy , the drug is used in combination with the drug psoralen .


A chronic bone marrow disorder, polycythemia vera (PV), can cause itching after you shower. PV causes an overproduction of red blood cells, which increases the risk of blood clots.

PV is treated with prescription drugs to lower the red blood cell count. The itching can be relieved with a moisturizer after you shower. Over-the-counter antihistamines can also help.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes. It causes swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, groin, or chest. It can also cause symptoms throughout the body, such as weight loss, fever, night sweats, and itching.

Itching, often intense, is a prominent symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma . Alcohol and showers can cause itching attacks. Medications used to treat the disease can also cause itching.

Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Cough
  • Night sweats
  • Hot
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss

Hodgkin lymphoma is examined using X-rays to look for enlarged lymph nodes. A biopsy of an enlarged lymph node may also be used.

Hodgkin lymphoma is treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cells. Clinical trials of new therapies and approaches to stem cell transplantation are also underway.

Pruritus and Hodgkin's lymphoma

Home remedies can relieve the itching associated with Hodgkin lymphoma. The American Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Add baking soda, oatmeal (wrapped in a cloth or mesh bag), or bath oil to your bath water.
  • Use baking powder instead of deodorant.
  • Avoid alcohol-based or perfumed products (such as powders, aftershave).
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of fabric that won't irritate your skin.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest.


Hodgkin lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes. Itching is one of its many symptoms. Showering can cause itching all over the body due to Hodgkin lymphoma. Home remedies and dehydration can help relieve itching.

Cholinergic urticaria

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Cholinergic urticaria is a form of hives caused by an increase in body temperature.

This could be due to hot showers, exercise, spicy foods, or too many blankets in bed at night.

Strong emotions can also cause hives in people with cholinergic urticaria.

Hives with cholinergic urticaria are very small, less than a mosquito bite. Hives can be grouped or merged into larger hives.

Cholinergic urticaria can sometimes be associated with more serious symptoms. This includes asthma symptoms and low blood pressure.

Cholinergic urticaria treatment

Cholinergic urticaria, like most other forms of hives, is often easily treated with oral antihistamines .

Second-generation non-sedating antihistamines used to treat cholinergic urticaria include:

Corticosteroids such as prednisone may also be prescribed for short-term use.


Another possible cause of itching after showering is cholinergic urticaria. This is a type of hives caused by an increase in body temperature.

Cholinergic urticaria is usually treated with over-the-counter antihistamines such as Allegra and Claritin.

Aquagenic urticaria

Aquagenic urticaria (UA) is a very rare form of hives. It is caused by the contact of water with the skin.

People with UA experience hives within minutes after the water touches their skin. This happens regardless of the water temperature.

What Causes Aquagenic Hives?

The cause of aquatic urticaria is unknown. Some early researchers suggested that water reacted with sebum on the skin to form a substance that triggers an allergic reaction.

To diagnose asthma, a drop of room temperature water is applied to the skin. If a hive forms within a few minutes, the diagnosis is confirmed.

Treatment of aquatic urticaria

Like most other forms of hives, UA is often easily treated with non-sedating oral antihistamines. Other treatment options may include:

  • Creams or other ointments that make the skin "waterproof", such as petroleum jelly and baby oil products.
  • Ultraviolet therapy (phototherapy)
  • Omalizumab , a drug commonly used for severe asthma.


Aquagenic hives are a rare type of hives caused by touching water. Its exact cause is unknown. It appears to be an allergic reaction to a skin protein dissolved in water.

Aquatic urticaria is treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, moisturizers, and ultraviolet light therapy.

Idiopathic aquagenic pruritus

Idiopathic aquagenic pruritus (IAP) is a rare condition. Causes itching without a rash after human skin contact with water.

IAP is likely caused by activation of the nervous system. After contact with water, the nerves located within the skin release various chemicals.

IAP treatment

No treatment is more effective for aquagenic itch. Treatment of aquatic urticaria may be helpful. Other possible treatments include:

For many people with CAP, it takes trial and error to find the right treatment.


A rare condition, IAP is itchy when water comes in contact with the skin. Unlike aquatic urticaria, IAP does not cause a rash. Treatment includes oral antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, and electrical nerve stimulation.


Itching after showering or bathing is common. This is usually caused by dry skin and is treated with a moisturizer. Several conditions can cause itching after exposure to hot water.

If your skin becomes red, cracked, and irritated after you shower, try lowering the water temperature, avoid scented soaps and detergents, and moisten once or twice a day.

More intense itching that persists despite home remedies may be a sign of a more serious condition.

If you experience unexplained itching after showering, see your doctor for a full evaluation. Some conditions that cause itching can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

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