Itchy skin, which doctors call pruritus, is a common symptom that can affect any part of the body. When it affects the chest, this can indicate a range of causes, including allergic reactions, psoriasis, and kidney or liver problems.

Depending on the cause, the itchiness may either remain confined to the chest or affect the whole body. Sometimes, a person may have the sensation that the inside of their chest feels itchy. Pruritus can occur with or without a rash.

In this article, we explain the various causes of an itchy chest and discuss treatments and home remedies.

Contact dermatitis causing itchy skin on chest
Contact dermatitis can cause an itchy rash.

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that appears when a person's skin reacts to a certain substance or irritant.

In addition to pruritis, the symptoms of dermatitis include a rash, a burning or stinging sensation, redness, and swelling.

Triggers for dermatitis on the chest vary among individuals but often include:

  • chemicals or dyes in clothing
  • laundry detergent
  • dryer sheets
  • jewelry, especially nickel
  • cosmetic skin products
  • fragrances

People can try to prevent dermatitis by identifying and avoiding their triggers. Topical steroids and antihistamines can help relieve symptoms.

Shingles can cause a tingling or burning sensation on the chest.

Shingles is a condition that can affect people who have previously had chickenpox. It arises when the varicella-zoster virus, which lies dormant in the body following chickenpox, reactivates.

The first sign of shingles is often a burning or tingling pain, which sometimes occurs alongside numbness or itching. These symptoms tend to appear on only one side of the body, and they typically affect the sides, back, chest, and head.

After , the person will develop a red rash in the affected areas. After a few more days, this will turn into blisters. Once the rash has gone away, people may experience lasting pain called postherpetic neuralgia in the same areas of the body.

People who suspect that they have shingles should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that causes areas of scaly skin. It can sometimes be itchy.

A form of psoriasis called inverse psoriasis occurs in areas where the skin folds, such as under the arms, below the breasts, and around the genitals.

Treatments for psoriasis include steroid creams and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Sunburn causes skin inflammation and peeling skin. The skin may feel itchy, sore, and hot. People can use soothing moisturizers and cool baths to reduce these symptoms.

Thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, skin itching without a rash.

Thyroid disorders often affect the skin, hair, and nails. Depending on the type of disorder, other symptoms may include sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures, fatigue, dry skin, and coarse, dry hair.

Doctors can treat thyroid disorders using medications that rebalance hormone levels.

In very rare instances, an itchy chest can be a symptom of a more serious condition. An example is breast cancer.

In rare instances, inflammatory breast cancer — a form of breast cancer that grows rapidly — can cause skin redness, inflammation, and itching skin. It can also make the skin appear and feel like an orange peel. If a person is concerned about the appearance of their skin, they should talk to their doctor.