Obsessive Scratching in Children

Does your child constantly scratch his skin, almost to the point of causing his skin to bleed? Many different factors can cause obsessive itching, making it important to get to the root of the problem before your child unnecessarily harms his skin and causes scarring. Obsessive itching can result from allergies, contact with a poisonous plant or even a childhood disease.


The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that chronic and obsessive itching can indicate that your child might have an undiagnosed allergy to food. Food allergies can cause skin rashes and irritating skin conditions, such as eczema, which can make your child itch like crazy. Talk to an allergy specialist or dermatologist about getting an allergy test for your child to find out if he has an allergy to certain know allergenic foods, such as wheat, eggs, dairy or corn. Removing these foods from your child's diet may alleviate itchy skin.

Contact with Poisonous Plants

According to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, certain poisonous plants can cause your child to obsessively itch his skin, and can often cause his skin to look red, irritated and splotchy. When your child goes outside to play, warn him to stay away from common poisonous plants, including poison ivy, poison oak and stinging nettles. If your child does end up having a rash from a poisonous plant, wash the area well with warm water and mild soap, then apply calamine lotion to the area with a cotton ball.

Contact with Chemicals

Many household products contain chemical ingredients that can irritate skin, especially the soft and sensitive skin of a small child. Look for products designed for sensitive skin, such as detergents, shampoos and soap. Avoid products that contain synthetic perfumes, fillers and colors, which can cause chronic and obsessive itching on your child's skin. Some natural foods stores carry products made only with natural and organic ingredients designed to clean without causing a skin reaction.

Chicken Pox

Sometimes obsessive itching can mean that your child might have an illness or infection, like chicken pox. Look at your child's skin thoroughly if you notice a lot of itching. Check for spots, raised bumps or red patches. If you find any of these unusual areas and spots, take your child to the doctor right away. You can treat itching caused by chicken pox by giving your child an oatmeal bath or applying calamine lotion over the affected areas.

Obsessive-Compulsive Scratching

While not common, some children who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may scratch their skin as a compulsive way to relieve stress caused by fear or some other psychological issue. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recommends that if your think your child might have OCD, early intervention could prevent the condition from getting worse. Ask your doctor for a recommendation to have your child evaluated for OCD, and whether she thinks that this could be the cause of your child's chronic skin scratching.