Uncontrollable Itching After Shower: 7 Causes & Solutions

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Dealing with uncontrollable Itching after showering? You might have hard water or chlorine or iron in your water. You might also be sensitive or allergic to some of your shower products.

Here, we’ve discussed some of the reasons why you might be experiencing uncontrollable Itching after a shower, and what to do about it.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • There are several possible reasons why your skin might feel itchy after showering, including some skin conditions, water quality issues, and your shower products.
  • You can prevent itchy skin after a shower by moisturizing, installing a water treatment system, reducing your shower time, and using anti-itch medication.

πŸ”Ž 7 Possible Causes Of Itchy Skin After Showering

Here are the most likely causes of itchy skin after showering:

1) Xerosis

Xerosis, or winter itch, is a common environmental skin condition that reduces the amount of sebum that skin makes.

Sebum is a waxy, oily substance that helps to keep the skin moisturized by forming a protective barrier. Without enough sebum, your skin may be red, dry, itchy, and flaky.

While showers don’t cause xerosis, they can exacerbate the problem. You’re especially likely to experience xerosis in the winter, when you’re exposed to dry heated indoor air, which strips the skin’s sebum.

2) Sensitivity Or Reaction To Shower Products

Another possible cause of itchy skin after showering is sensitivity or a reaction to your shower products.

Generic body wash, shampoo, and soap products may contain harsh chemicals and fragrances that irritate the skin.

These products may also dehydrate your skin, causing it to dry out – which often results in itchiness.

3) Hard Water

Certain water quality issues may cause you to experience itchy skin after a shower, and hard water is one of the most likely causes.

Hard water is high in calcium and magnesium ions, which react with soap to form soap scum. Soap scum forms a sticky layer on your skin, preventing it from retaining its moisture and leading to dryness and itchiness.

Hard water is a common problem in the US, with an estimated 80% of all households using a water supply with a high mineral content.

Showerhead with limescale buildup

4) Iron In Water

Iron is a contaminant that’s commonly found in groundwater supplies. If you have a private well, there’s a good chance that your water contains iron.

Like hardness minerals, iron in shower water may leave deposits on your skin’s surface that cause it to dry out and become itchy.

Alongside skin issues, other signs of iron in your water include orange-tinted water, orange stains on surfaces, and a metallic taste or smell in water.

5) Chlorine In Water

Chlorine is used to disinfect municipal water supplies. While it has the obvious benefit of protecting water from microbiological contamination, it gives water an unpleasant chemical taste and may irritate your skin.

Low levels of chlorine are unlikely to cause skin itching for most people, but if your skin is particularly sensitive, you might experience skin dryness and itchiness as a result of showering in chlorinated water.

6) Long, Hot Showers

Taking a long, hot shower is another potential cause of itchy skin.

Hot water strips the skin’s oils, making it prone to dryness and itchiness. So, if you love a daily hot shower, this routine might cause your skin to feel itchy.

7) An Undiagnosed Skin Issue

There are several other skin conditions and health complaints that may cause your skin to become itchy after a shower.

These include polycythemia vera (PV), a disease of the bone marrow that causes itchy skin due to the overproduction of antihistamines, and cholinergic urticaria, a type of hives that increases body temperature, with itchy skin being a common side effect.

Many of these health concerns need to be treated with medication, so consult your doctor if you’re concerned.

Red and itchy skin

πŸ›€ How To Reduce Itchy Skin From Showering

There are a few different ways you can reduce itchy skin from showering, depending on the cause of the issue:

Use Products For Sensitive Skin

If your skin is itchy as a result of sensitivities to your shower products, switch to products that are made with natural ingredients and kind to sensitive skin.

Avoid shampoos, shower gels, and hair conditioners that are made from a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. The fewer the ingredients, and the more natural they are, the better.

If you’re unsure about which shower products to buy, opt for products that are made for babies. Babies and infants have very sensitive skin, so baby bath products are generally made from natural, skin-friendly ingredients.

Using natural shower products should also help if your skin is itchy due to an allergy to an ingredient in your current products. Allergic reactions to shower products for sensitive skin are far less common because they’re usually deliberately formulated to exclude common allergens.

Install A Water Softener

Sensitive skin caused by showering in hard water or water containing iron is best treated by installing a water softening system.

A water softener is a point of entry (POE) treatment system that softens water that’s delivered to your whole home.

These systems consist of two tanks: a resin tank, which contains the ion exchange resin, and a sodium tank, which contains the salt for softening.

When hard water flows through the resin, the positively charged calcium and magnesium minerals stick to the resin bed, while equal amounts of sodium are released to balance water’s charge. The softened water is no longer able to form scale or soap scum, and it won’t leave deposits that sauce itchy or dry skin.

Aside from preventing post-shower itchy skin, a water softener will also improve the efficiency of your appliances and prevent water flow issues associated with limescale.

Continue Reading: Enhance your water quality with the best water softening systems available

Installing a water softener in home

Shower In Cooler Water

Since very hot water can cause itchy skin after a shower, the solution for you might be as simple as taking cooler showers.

Try reducing your shower’s temperature setting so that the water isn’t hot enough to steam.

Cooler water won’t strip your skin of its oils or compromise the skin barrier, so you shouldn’t experience post-shower itching as a result of dryness.

Treat Your Water With A Shower Filter

If a sensitivity to chlorine is causing your skin to itch after a shower, the best solution is to install a shower filter.

Shower filters use a special filter media to remove up to 99% of chlorine and other chemicals from water. Most shower filters use activated carbon, which adsorbs contaminants as water flows through the media. Some filters for showers also use ion exchange media or vitamin-enhancing media to further improve skin health.

You can buy showerhead filters that replace your existing showerhead, or inline shower filters that sit underneath your showerhead and filter water on its way up the shower pipe.

If you want to be sure that a filter can remove chlorine, look for an NSF 42 certification. This tells you that the filter has been third-party tested and approved for its chlorine removal abilities.

Related: The Best Bathtub Water Filter of 2024 Revealed

Moisturize After A Shower

A simple way to prevent itchy skin that’s caused by dryness is to moisturize after showering. Gently pat your skin dry, then apply a thin layer of sensitive skin-friendly moisturizer.

The moisturizer will help your body to retain its natural oils and prevent dryness, especially when taking hot showers in cold, low-humidity environments.

A good moisturizer should soothe your skin, reducing itchiness, redness, and other signs of irritation.

Woman applying moisturizer on skin

Reduce Your Shower Time

Long showers and baths can exacerbate skin conditions like xerosis. You may be able to reduce itching after a shower by reducing your shower time.

Try to limit your showers to around 3-5 minutes, or no more than the length of your favorite song.

This won’t just help with itchy or dry skin post-shower – it’ll also help you to save water!

Take Prescribed Medication

If you’re certain that the cause of your itchy skin isn’t listed above, you might have a health problem that needs to be diagnosed by a professional.

Book a consultation with your doctor and discuss your symptoms. Take pictures of your skin if the itchiness is accompanied by a rash or other visible symptoms.

Your doctor might prescribe you some medication to ease the irritation. Sometimes, you can get stuck in a cycle of itching, which makes your skin itchier, and so on. Topical medications like anti-itch creams will soothe your skin and help it to heal while you work on eliminating the other possible causes of the itching.

If you just have mild itchiness, you could try taking antihistamines for several days before resorting to a doctor’s appointment.

πŸ”š Final Word

Uncontrollable Itching after a shower is unpleasant, and the sooner you can determine the cause, the better.

We recommend swapping any harsh soaps and shower gels for skin-friendly products, reducing the heat, and keeping your skin moisturized after your showers. If this still doesn’t work, test your water to see if hardness minerals, iron, or chlorine might be responsible for your skin itch.

Make sure to book an appointment with your doctor if your itchy skin isn’t alleviated by the above actions or if the itching worsens over time.

❔ FAQ

Why do I get very itchy after a hot shower?

You may get very itchy after a hot shower because the hot water strips away your skin’s natural oils, which are needed to keep skin supple and hydrated. A lack of these oils may cause your skin to feel dry and itchy, especially if you step out of the shower and expose your wet skin to cold, dry air.

Do cold showers make you itchy?

No, ordinarily a cold shower shouldn’t make your skin itchy. In fact, cold showers are typically better for skin than hot showers because they tighten skin pores and reduce redness and irritation. Feeling itchy after a cold shower might be a sign of cold urticaria, which is a condition that causes a skin reaction due to being exposed to the cold.

Can showering too much cause itchy skin?

Yes, it’s possible that showering too much can cause itchy skin. Every time you shower, the water (and any shower products) strip your skin of its natural oils. This compromises your skin barrier and makes you more likely to experience itchy, dry skin after showering. Try to limit your shower routine to one shower per day, unless you have a specific reason for showering more frequently.

Can water softeners make your skin itch?

No, water softeners won’t make your skin itch. In fact, a water softener should reduce itching by swapping hardness minerals (which often cause itching) with sodium ions (which don’t irritate the skin). If you have a water softener and your skin is itchy, it’s likely caused by another water quality issue or your shower products.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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