What Causes an Itchy Face?

When your face itches, it's distracting and can be difficult to control. This happens often in the winter and during allergy season for many reasons.

Common Causes of an Itchy Face

Itchy face causes
Illustration by Nusha Ashjaee, Verywell
  • Seasonal Allergies: seasonal or environmental allergies notoriously cause itching, specifically an itchy face.
  • Dry Skin: some people get patches of dry skin on their face that can be very itchy.
  • Eczema: more than just dry skin, eczema is extremely itchy and can be difficult to treat, flare-ups of eczema can be caused by allergies as well.
  • Food and Medication Allergies: similar to seasonal allergies, allergic reactions to food and medications can cause an itchy face.
  • Rosacea: this skin condition can also cause tingling or stinging on the cheeks.

If facial itching is accompanied by tongue or throat swelling, difficulty breathing or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately. These could be signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Treatment Options

If your itchy face isn't life-threatening but is bothersome, there are things you can do to help. If you are itching due to allergies, taking allergy medication may provide relief. If you have tried over the counter allergy medications and they haven't worked, make an appointment with an allergist. There may be other medications that could help.

If you experience itchy skin due to dryness, lotion or moisturizers may help. If you have eczema or another skin condition diagnosed by your health care provider, talk to her about the appropriate treatment for you.

Other things you can do to improve dryness and reduce the chances that your skin will itch include staying hydrated (drink plenty of water) and using a humidifier when you are indoors, especially during the winter. Cold winter air is irritating to the skin and heaters in our homes and offices dry the air as well. Adding moisture back into the environment with a humidifier could help. However, taking hot showers can actually make the problem worse. Showering with warm water is fine but hot water can irritate your skin.

If you have tried all of these remedies and still don't have relief, talk to your healthcare provider. There could be a different cause or treatment for the problem that you aren't aware of. Although the itchy skin is rarely serious, damage from scratching can lead to infections that could be serious. Be sure to seek treatment if you notice pain, redness, swelling or develop a fever.

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Article Sources

  • "Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions" American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology 2010. 
  • "Skin Health and Skin Diseases." NIH Medline Plus the Magazine. Fall 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 4 Pages 22 - 25. National Institutes of Health.