Itching on the chest and abdomen

Itching on the stomach and chest has both dermatological and non-dermatological causes. The abdomen, chest and navel are very accessible areas for a person to scratch. The result is severe itching and scratching, sometimes throughout the day, sometimes without even realizing it. What should you do when you have an itchy stomach?



Why do you have an itchy stomach

Pruritus is the unpleasant sensation that leads to the need to scratch. You can have pruritus all over your body. Itching on the stomach and chest are two of several locations where itching may occur, and may be isolated or associated with other itching.

Itching on the stomach and chest is sometimes temporary, for example after an insect bite or after a hot bath, but more often than not it lasts over time and can cause problems in your daily life.

The causes of an itchy stomach are:

  • Dermatological: for example, in cases of eczema, psoriasis and even shingles. That is, a viral infection that results in a rash, intense pain and itching on one side of the torso, around the ribs (this is called intercostal shingles). In this case, treatment is based on antivirals, painkillers and antiseptic to avoid superinfection in the lesions.
  • Non-dermatological: the most frequent case is gestational pruritus or pruritus gravidarum, in other words pruritus present in pregnant women. During pregnancy, the skin of the abdomen changes and this is what leads to itching. Due to the baby's weight gain and growth, the skin stretches considerably in this area. Hormonal changes make the skin drier which contributes to itching on the stomach and even itching in the belly button. Thus, mothers-to-be have an itchy stomach and an itchy belly button. All this is completely benign but can prevent the pregnant woman from sleeping and generate a lot of stress, which is of course not desirable during pregnancy.

Thus, one can have an itchy stomach for different reasons. When in doubt, it is best to consult a general practitioner or specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. This is also true if you experience an itchy stomach during pregnancy, as this may be a more serious condition called obstetric cholestasis.

How to relieve itching on the stomach?

A few simple rules can help alleviate itching on the stomach and chest:

  • Hygiene: take showers that are neither too hot nor too long, with a cleansing product adapted to sensitive skin and itching, such as a superfatted soap, a syndet or a soothing cleansing oil. Dry the skin without rubbing, gently dabbing with a soft cotton towel.
  • Hydration: apply an anti-itching cream to your itchy stomach and other parts of the body where you are experiencing itching, again without rubbing, using gentle, circular movements, like a massage. Place the tube of cream in the refrigerator for immediate relief of itching on the abdomen and chest.
  • Clothes: an itchy stomach is in constant contact with clothes, so you have to be very careful with the materials used to limit the risk of irritation and thus itching. Opt for soft and natural fibers, such as cotton, linen or silk. The same goes for underwear and bedding. Wash your clothes with a small amount of hypoallergenic and perfume-free detergent. In cases of an itchy stomach, it is recommended that pregnant women wear loose and comfortable clothing to avoid friction on the abdomen.

Other tricks can improve daily life in cases of an itchy stomach, such as cutting fingernails short to avoid damaging the skin of the abdomen, or placing a t-shirt in the refrigerator to create a cool sensation on the skin.

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