Itchy Stomach: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

An itchy stomach can be a symptom of several different conditions, ranging from allergies and insect bites to bacterial infections and eczema.

For most people, an itchy stomach isn't a cause for concern. But if an itchy stomach doesn't go away in a couple of weeks, it might be necessary to test for a larger issue, such as kidney disease or an autoimmune disorder.

This article covers the symptoms and possible causes of an itchy stomach, risk factors, when to seek a diagnosis, and possible treatments.

Woman scratching her stomach outdoors.

Kittisak Jirasittichai / EyeEm / Getty Images

Symptoms of an Itchy Stomach

The most common symptoms of an itchy stomach are:

  • An uncontrollable urge to scratch the stomach
  • Redness or scratch marks on the stomach
  • Small or large bumps on the stomach

Other symptoms of an itchy stomach include dry, scaly, or peeling skin.

Causes of an Itchy Stomach

There are several reasons why your stomach might itch. The most common are:

Some less common causes of an itchy stomach include:

  • Skin parasites
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer or cancer treatments
  • Thyroid disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to something it touches or to its environment. This could be caused by allergies or simply skin cells reacting to irritation. A skin allergy could be mild or severe. With a severe case—especially if the rash spreads quickly—it's crucial to get emergency care right away.

Common Causes of Skin Irritation

Skin reactions and/or allergies that cause itchiness, rashes, or hives (red bumps of various sizes), could be caused by:

  • Tight clothing
  • Insect bites
  • Sweat
  • The sun or heat
  • Insect bites
  • Pollen or pet dander
  • Chemicals in detergents, perfumes, etc.
  • Medication allergy

Chronic Skin Conditions

If you have an itchy stomach that persists or continually reappears with other skin symptoms, the following skin disorders could be a cause:

Eczema: A skin disorder in which allergens (such as seasonal pollen or mold), irritants (such as detergents or perfume), and stress can cause red, dry, itchy, and cracked skin. Eczema can cause dry skin that lasts for a year or longer before it is diagnosed.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a disorder in which an overactive immune system causes skin cells to grow in excess. Symptoms of psoriasis can include scaly skin and red, purple, or brown patches, as well as itching. Psoriasis can worsen over time and lead to other conditions like psoriatic arthritis.

Dry skin: Chronic dry skin can also cause itchiness. At times, chronic dry skin can be a symptom of larger issues, like medication side effects, thyroid disease, diabetes, or a vitamin deficiency.


At times, a bacterial or viral infection can cause an itchy stomach. These might include:

  • Ringworm: A fungal infection that can cause rashes
  • Impetigo: A bacterial infection that may lead to staphylococcal (staph) infection or strep throat
  • Chicken pox: A viral infection that can cause rashes
  • Measles: A viral infection spread through the air or infected surfaces

Parasites like lice and scabies can also cause itching. These parasites can often cause rashes and blistering, along with intense itching.


PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) is a rash that can occur during the third trimester of pregnancy or right after a person gives birth. This rash can cause intense itching.

Cancer or Cancer Treatments

Some types of cancer and cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and immunotherapy, can cause itching and rashes. Pain medications, hormone treatments, and antinausea medications can also cause itching.

Thyroid Disease

Hyperthyroidism,an overactive thyroid, can cause itchiness. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, can cause dry skin, which could also increase the likelihood of having an itchy stomach.

Kidney or Liver Disease

Chronic kidney disease can cause dry skin as a result of dehydration, hormone imbalances, and inflammation (the body's response to foreign agents).

Itchy skin is also a symptom of chronic liver disease.

What Medications Can Cause an Itchy Stomach?

There are several common drugs that could be the cause of itchy skin. These medications include the following:

Itchy Skin: When to Get Emergency Care

It's important to seek emergency care for itchy skin in the following cases:

  • A sudden rash that is spreading quickly, especially if breathing is affected
  • A fever with a rash
  • A rash that blisters or is painful
  • If a rash is infected, which might include pain and include yellow-green fluid or swelling

How to Treat an Itchy Stomach

There are several ways to treat an itchy stomach when it is not part of a larger disorder. These include:

  • Moisturizing skin
  • Taking warm instead of hot baths
  • Applying a cold compress to itchy areas
  • Using hydrocortisone creams
  • Avoiding heat
  • Keeping clothing and skin dry
  • Wearing loser clothing
  • Avoiding irritating fabrics
  • Avoiding chemical detergents and perfumes

Complications and Risk Factors Associated With An Itchy Stomach

If an itchy stomach is recurring and left untreated, complications from other underlying conditions causing it may occur. These may include:

  • Blisters, sores, and infections on scratched areas
  • Complications from untreated allergies
  • Rheumatic fever or in rare cases, kidney problems, if impetigo goes untreated

Are There Tests to Diagnose the Cause of an Itchy Stomach?

An itchy stomach that does not subside after a couple of weeks could require a diagnosis. A healthcare provider might do the following to determine the cause of an itchy stomach:

  • Test a sample of skin (a skin biopsy) for skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis
  • Skin and/or blood tests to determine if there are allergies
  • Test the skin for bacteria or viruses

Other ways to diagnose an itchy stomach might include:

  • Inspecting the skin and inquiring about other symptoms and family history of skin disorders
  • Urine samples and throat swabs to test for viruses like measles
  • Inspecting the skin for parasites
  • Asking about current medications

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you have an itchy stomach, it's advised to see a healthcare provider if:

  • The itchy area looks infected with blisters or liquid
  • A rash or itch remains for longer than two weeks
  • Home treatments are not able to stop the itching for longer than two weeks
  • The rash has spread all over the body or rapidly (In this case, emergency care can be necessary)


An itchy stomach can be marked by an irresistible urge to scratch the area, along with redness, bumps, or a rash. The possible causes of an itchy stomach usually include contact dermatitis, autoimmune conditions, infections, pregnancy, medication side effects, and cancer.

Diagnosing an itchy stomach might include taking a small piece of skin for lab testing or taking tests to determine allergies. In more serious cases, a blood sample could be taken to test for an autoimmune disorder or thyroid disease. Treating an itchy stomach at home can include wearing dry and loose clothing, applying anti-itch creams, and taking antihistamines.

A Word From Verywell

An itchy stomach is usually a harmless symptom that should disappear within a few days. Wearing loose clothing, applying anti-itch ointments, and taking an antihistamine could help treat the issue. However, if an itchy stomach remains for longer than two weeks, you may want to get tested for an infection, allergies, or a chronic disorder like thyroid disease or psoriasis. While it might not seem important to test a common symptom, it could make all the difference for your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes an itchy stomach?

    An itchy stomach is usually caused by a skin irritant like tight clothing, harsh chemicals from detergents or cosmetics, insect bites, heat, or an allergen. At times, medications can cause itchy skin. Pregnant people can also experience itchiness on their stomachs during the third trimester or postpartum. Skin parasites, bacteria and viruses, thyroid diseases, and cancer or cancer treatments can all cause someone to have an itchy stomach.

  • How can I get rid of an itchy stomach?

    If your stomach itches, it's advised to wear looser clothing, avoid chemical irritants like perfumes or detergents, and keep the area dry. Applying an anti-itch ointment and taking an antihistamine in case of allergies can also help. Your itch should go away in a few days. However, if a stomach itch lasts longer than a couple of weeks, it's important to see your healthcare provider.

  • What if an itchy stomach doesn't go away?

    An itch on your stomach that doesn't disappear in about two weeks or that does not respond to creams likely requires an inspection by a healthcare provider. Your provider may ask about any medications you're taking since itchy skin is a side effect of several medications. An itchy stomach might also indicate a skin disorder like eczema or psoriasis.

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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.
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By Neha Kashyap
Neha is a New York-based health journalist who has written for WebMD, ADDitude, HuffPost Life, and dailyRx News. Neha enjoys writing about mental health, elder care, innovative health care technologies, paying for health care, and simple measures that we all can take to work toward better health.