Why Do My Lungs Itch?

Itchy lungs is a term used to describe an unpleasant sensation in the chest. Sometimes referred to as a tickle or scratchy feeling, itchy lungs are a symptom that is bothersome and often caused by lung irritants.

Lung irritants can come from the environment, a medical condition, or physical stress. Determining what irritates the lungs and removing that irritant may help reduce or eliminate the itching sensation.

This article discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatments of itchy lungs.

Person experiencing itchy lungs

DjelicS / Verywell Health

Itchy Lungs Causes

There are three categories of causes of an itchy sensation in the lungs. These include:

  • Environmental: Environmental causes of itchy lungs include smoke, cold or dry air, or pollen.
  • Medical: Asthma, bronchitis, and infections are some medical conditions that may make people feel an itchiness sensation in their lungs.
  • Physical and psychological: Exercise and emotional and physical stress all can cause itchiness in the lungs.

Symptoms

Itchiness in the lungs usually coincides with other respiratory symptoms. All of the symptoms will vary based on the overall cause or condition. If symptoms do not resolve make sure to contact your healthcare provider.

Some of the symptoms of lung disease are:

Symptoms Mistaken for Itchy Lungs

There are other feelings that can be mistaken for itchy lungs. This includes a tight chest or respiratory secretions. However, symptoms are subjective experiences that vary from person to person.

Treatments

Treating itchy lungs will start with determining the underlying cause and removing it. If the cause is not obvious then it is time to contact your healthcare provider for additional advice and testing.

Environmental Triggers

People who have allergies should avoid their triggers. This can include pollen, mold, and smoke. Pollen moves through the air and is inhaled into the lungs. Follow these suggestions to keep pollen out of the lungs:

  • Keep windows closed during the day
  • Shower and wash your clothes after working or playing outside
  • Don't hang your clothes or sheets outside to dry
  • Wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear to keep pollen out of your eyes

If mold is a trigger the best way to keep it out of your home is regular cleaning and keeping the humidity in your home between 30% to 50%.

For those who find that smoke is a trigger, then it is best to stay away from smokers and not let them smoke in your house or car.

Medical Triggers

People with asthma, bronchitis, or other medical conditions should talk to their healthcare provider for guidance in managing their itchy lungs. This may include medication, inhalers, rest, or fluids.

Physical and Psychological Triggers

To help itchy lungs caused by a psychological trigger, focus on techniques to minimize stress, including:

For those who have physical triggers like exercise, make sure to take it slowly and warm up. If the cold air causes your lungs to itch, try using a cloth over your mouth to breathe.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

It's time to see a healthcare provider for itchy lungs if symptoms do not improve or worsen over time. Itchy lungs can present along with many other symptoms and can signify a larger problem.

A healthcare provider can help determine the underlying cause and make a treatment plan specific to your symptoms.

Summary

Itchy lungs is a symptom that can show up on its own or along with other respiratory symptoms. It is a sign of an underlying problem that can irritate the lungs and is not a condition in and of itself.

Depending upon the cause of the itchy lungs, it can be treated with medication, removing allergens, or stress reduction techniques. If symptoms do not improve, make sure to contact your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

Itchy lungs are a respiratory symptom that can be caused by many different conditions. It's important that you identify the underlying cause to be able to treat the symptoms. If you find that the itchiness does not go away or that you have worsening respiratory problems, it's time to talk to your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you treat irritated lungs?

    The treatment for irritated lungs will depend on the cause. It could include medication, inhalers, or avoidance of whatever is causing the irritation.

  • How do you know if something is wrong with your lungs?

    Several symptoms can help you decide if something is wrong with your lungs. For example, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, or chest pain, could indicate something wrong.

  • Why do my lungs feel tingly?

    Your lungs could feel tingly if you have a respiratory illness causing inflammation like bronchitis or asthma.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Particle pollution and respiratory effects.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn how to take control of asthma.

  3. American Psychological Association. Stress effects on the body.

  4. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Hay fever.

  5. Office on Women's Health. Lung disease.

  6. American College of Asthma, Allergy, & Immunology. Environmental allergy avoidance.

  7. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.