There are a number of reasons that you could have itchy forearms. Read on to learn about four common causes.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a swollen, itchy, red rash caused by exposure to a substance (like poison ivy) or an allergic reaction to a substance (like jewelry made of nickel). Contact dermatitis usually clears up in two to four weeks.

Treatment for contact dermatitis includes:

  • identifying and avoiding the substance that caused the rash
  • applying topical steroid cream
  • taking oral medication such as corticosteroids, antihistamines, or antibiotics

Brachioradial pruritus

Brachioradial pruritus is a condition where you feel itching, tingling, stinging, or burning on one or both of your arms. It can be localized to the mid-arm, upper arm, or forearm.

The condition does not necessarily change the skin’s appearance, but rubbing and scratching the affected area might.

If you zealously rub or scratch your itchy arm or arms, you could eventually develop bruising, brown marks (hyperpigmentation) and/or white marks (hypopigmentation).

Experienced more often in sunny climates, brachioradial pruritus is caused by cervical nerve irritation combined with ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on the affected area.

Treatment for brachioradial pruritus includes:

  • avoiding exposure to the sun
  • applying topical medications such as capsaicin, mild steroids, anesthetics, antihistamines, or amitriptyline/ketamine
  • taking oral medications such as amitriptyline, gabapentin, risperidone, fluoxetine, chlorpromazine, or hydroxyzine

Eczema

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin disorder that includes dry skin, itchiness, rashes, and scaly skin.

There’s no cure for eczema, but treatment can prevent new outbreaks and relieve symptoms such as itching.

Treatment for eczema includes:

  • using gentle soaps
  • moisturizing your skin a minimum of two times a day
  • limiting showers and baths to less than 15 minutes
  • showering with warm or cool water rather than hot water
  • drying your skin gently and applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that speeds up the growth of skin cells. This causes scaly, red patches that are itchy and often painful.

Treatment for psoriasis includes:

  • topical treatments such as corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, or salicylic acid
  • light therapy such as UVB phototherapy, psoralen plus ultraviolet A, or excimer laser
  • medications such as retinoids, methotrexate, or cyclosporine

If you are experiencing itchy forearms and the itch persists or is combined with other symptoms like redness, rash, or scaly skin, call your doctor.

Your doctor can properly diagnose your condition and offer advice and perhaps a prescription to address the condition and relieve the itch.