10 causes of an itchy face

A person may experience an itching sensation, or pruritus, on their face for a number of different reasons.

Although pruritus can occur due to visible conditions, such as psoriasis or an insect bite, it might also indicate the presence of an underlying condition.

This article will look at the different causes of pruritus on the face, as well as some options that may provide relief.

1. Dry skin

a woman scratching her face because it is itchy
A person may have an itchy face because their skin is dry.

Dry skin on the face can be a cause of pruritus. A person might have dry skin on their face for many reasons.

These may include:

  • frequent washing
  • exposure to harsh chemicals
  • low air humidity

The American Academy of Dermatology recommend following these tips to prevent dry skin:

  • Use warm water for bathing and washing.
  • Choose a mild, fragrant- and alcohol-free cleanser.
  • Cleanse the face once per day at night, then rinse with cool water in the morning.
  • Limit bath and shower time to 5–10 minutes.
  • Apply moisturizers immediately after taking a bath or shower, while the skin is still damp, to lock in moisture.
  • Shave after taking a bath or shower, and use a shaving cream or gel to soften the hairs.
  • Change razor blades every five to seven uses.
  • Apply cool cloths to the affected area.
  • Apply a lip balm with petrolatum to soothe chapped lips.
  • Wear a scarf to protect the face from exposure to cold temperatures.


If pruritus occurs due to dry skin, a person can moisturize to ease the itching. The purpose of a moisturizer is to prevent water loss and add water to the skin.

Moisturizers contain different ingredients that serve different purposes. For example, occlusive moisturizers containing petrolatum prevent water loss from the skin by forming a barrier.

Humectants, such as urea and glycolic and lactic acids, attract and bind water to hydrate the skin.

2. Aging

Pruritus appears to be particularly prevalent among older adults. As people age, their bodies’ pH levels can change. There may also be decreased hormone levels and a reduced ability to retain water.

As the skin retains less moisture and becomes thinner, this may cause dry skin and pruritus.


Treatments for pruritus among older adults will depend on the cause. However, a person may be able to ease the itching by moisturizing the skin.

3. Bug bites

Some people may experience pruritus on their face as a result of a mosquito bite.

Typically, a mosquito bite will clear up by itself. However, other bugs — including lice and bed bugs — may live or feed on the skin.


Home treatment for bug bites may include:

  • cleaning the area with soap and water
  • applying a cold compress
  • ïtaking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • taking antihistamines

If a person is experiencing anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction, they or someone near them should seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include wheezing, the feeling of a lump in the throat, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

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