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Natural Home Remedies for Itchy Skin

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction  

People of all ages suffer from itchy skin at some point in life. Skin itching is a troubling sensation that makes you want to scratch your skin. You may experience itching in any one part of the body or all over the body.1 Itching is also known as pruritis. It is a symptom that can occur on its own or because of any other condition.2 Itchy skin is not usually a serious problem. It is generally self-manageable and subsides within a few weeks.3 However, if your skin becomes itchy, a rash may develop. You may experience severe itching even without any rash or any other symptoms.4  

Although most of the time, itching is only bothersome or uncomfortable, excessive scratching can damage the protective barrier of the skin and expose the body to harmful germs and infections.5 Itchy skin disturbs  sleep.2 Also, the continuous need to itch may distract you from your daily tasks and create problems.  

Itchy skin due to food allergies can be a medical emergency and the presentation can range from mild to severe and may include sneezing, itchy eyes, swelling, rash, hives, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Seek immediate medical care when you encounter these symptoms.

Dr Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Did you know?

What Causes Itchy Skin? 

Itching is frequently caused by the release of histamine, which is a chemical substance released in the body during immune reactions. Histamine is responsible for causing redness and itching associated with skin damage, dryness, rashes, and insect bites.5  

Itchy skin can be caused by a variety of factors, including: 

  • Change in the weather6 
  • Allergic reactions to food, latex, pollen, medicines, and insect bites 
  • Skin conditions like dryness, eczema, and psoriasis 
  • Contact with irritating chemicals, cosmetics, and other substances 
  • Infestation with parasites such as pinworms, scabies, head and body lice 
  • During pregnancy 
  • Some kidney, liver, or thyroid diseases 
  • Certain cancers or their treatments 
  • Diseases like shingles and diabetes1  

Results demonstrate that colloidal oat extracts exhibit direct anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, which may provide the mechanisms for observed dermatological benefits while using the colloidal oatmeal skin protectant lotion.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka – MBBS, MD(Pediatrics)

Symptoms of Itchy Skin 

Apart from itching that makes you scratch your skin, itchy skin can present with other symptoms as well, such as: 

  • Scratch marks, red skin, or rashes.2 
  • Swimmer’s itch is the one that is caused by parasites found in ponds or lakes. The parasites in the water may burrow into your skin, causing tiny red spots to appear on the exposed skin. Occasionally, itchy welts (hives) and blisters also appear.4 

Also Read: Best Home Remedies for Dry Skin

Vitamin A deficiency may contribute to itchy skin Vitamin A can be absorbed easily through the skin in retinoid skin products to remedy this. It may also be consumed through foods high in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and tomatoes.

Dr Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Suggested Home Remedies for Itchy Skin 

Itchy skin is usually not a severe problem, and you can manage it with some home-based remedies given below. 

1. Moisturiser  

Change in the weather is the most common cause of itchy skin. Dry skin worsens with seasonal changes. Using a good moisturiser may help you lock in the moisture in your skin. It keeps the skin from drying out. There are some specific tips to keep in mind while using moisturiser. After taking a lukewarm shower, you can gently dry the skin and apply moisturiser within 3-5 minutes; this will help trap the moisture in your skin. Choosing the correct type of moisturiser is also equally important. It would help if you looked for ceramide-containing moisturisers because ceramide aids in the restoration of skin barriers and the prevention of moisture loss.6 

2. Cold Press 

Cold compresses, such as a cold, moist cloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel and pressed on the affected area, can help relieve itchy skin. The cold sensation breaks the itching cycle and reduces the skin inflammation caused by frequent itching.6  

3. Mild Soaps and Detergents  

Avoid using soaps and detergents that contain skin irritants. Using milder soaps and laundry detergents will help you avoid contact with these skin irritants and ease the itchiness of the skin.2  

4. Wear Cotton Clothing 

Avoid using fabrics like wool and synthetics, as these can make your skin itchy. Opting for cotton clothes and cotton bed sheets will help you reduce the symptoms of itchy skin.2  

Other remedies 

  • Applying sunscreen for sun protection2 
  • Putting on loose cotton clothes rather than tight clothes 
  • Maintaining clean, short, and smooth nails 
  • Avoiding scratching your skin 
  • Spending less time in the bath or shower3 
  • Bathing in lukewarm water6 

Also Read: White Patches On Skin: Causes, Symptoms And Home Remedies

Home Remedies To Be Avoided

The home remedies mentioned below should be avoided as they may worsen the skin itching: 

1. Moisturisers With Fragrances 

You should avoid moisturisers with fragrances (perfumes) and dyes. These perfumes and dyes can cause the skin to become itchy rather than soothing. Use moisturisers that do not have chemicals like dyes and fragrances.6  

2. Aloe Vera  

Though aloe vera is soothing for sunburns, you should not use the products containing aloe vera for dry, itchy skin. Aloe vera containing products might contain fragrances and preservatives for longer shelf life, which can irritate the skin. Furthermore, there is limited scientific evidence available to show that it helps in managing itchy skin.6 

3. Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can aggravate itching. Therefore, using vinegar to relieve itchy skin should be avoided.6 

Also Read: Why Do My Armpits Itch: Research-Based Reasons and Remedies

When to Seek Medical Help? 

You need to contact your doctor if you notice any of these complications: 

  • If itchy skin is interfering with your daily life 
  • If home remedies or self-care do not relieve itchy skin 
  • If the itching persists 
  • If the itching is seen all over the body, this could indicate a more serious problem.3  
  • If the skin is damaged from scratching, it can cause infection (infection can cause redness, swelling, pus, or fever).2 

Also, consult your doctor if you notice these symptoms in addition to itchy skin: 

  • Fatigue (lack of energy and tiredness) 
  • Changes in mood 
  • Weight gain or loss 
  • Change in body functions (like bowel movements or urination)2 

These symptoms might be a sign of a serious health condition that may require immediate medical help.  

Conclusion  

Itchy skin is a common problem that can be managed within a few weeks. The above-mentioned home remedies involve simple tricks and procedures that can help you get rid of itchy skin. For example, using a good moisturiser and cold press helps to reduce itchy skin. However, in some cases, if the symptoms of itchy skin do not subside with these home remedies and impact your daily life, you should consult your doctor.  

Also Read: 9 Best Home Remedies For Itchy Scalp

Frequently Asked Questions   

1) What are the home remedies used for itchy skin? 

Some of the home remedies that help to reduce the symptoms of itchy skin include using a moisturiser within 3 to 4 minutes after showering with lukewarm water and using a cold press. Using mild soaps and detergents and wearing cotton clothing is also helpful in relieving the skin itchiness. These home remedies can help retain the moisture in the skin and reduce itching caused due to dryness.2, 6  

2) Is itchy skin normal? 

Yes, itchy skin is normal. Everybody experiences itchy skin at some point during their life. However, if the itchiness is occurring all over your body, does not get relieved with self-care remedies, and persists, it may indicate something serious. In such cases, you need to contact your healthcare provider.2  

3) What causes itchy skin? 

Itching is caused by histamine release, a chemical substance related to our body’s immune response. Histamine causes the redness, itching, and rashes that you may experience with damaged skin, dry skin, and insect bites.5 If you are experiencing constant itching that does not go away, you should visit your doctor.2 

4) Can I use apple cider vinegar for itchy skin? 

No, apple cider vinegar will not help get rid of itchy skin. The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar is not suitable for itchy skin, and it may even worsen it. Use gentler remedies instead, like a moisturiser and cold press using a damp cloth.6 

5) How do I prevent itchy skin? 

Choosing healthy skincare habits might help you avoid itchy skin. Healthy skin care habits include taking a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, moisturising correctly to keep the skin from drying out, washing and bathing with warm water, protecting the skin from excessive damage, and using a good sunscreen. Following these habits will assist you in taking care of your skin and avoiding itchy skin.2 

References  

1. MedlinePlus. Itching. Pruritus. Itchy skin. [Internet]. Last updated on: 2021 Oct 19. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/itching.html#summary 

2. Cleveland Clinic. Pruritus (Itchy Skin) [Internet]. Last updated on: 2019 Oct 10. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11879-pruritus 

3. Itchy skin – NHS [Internet]. Last updated on: 2020 Jul 10. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/itchy-skin/ 

4. 10 reasons your skin itches uncontrollably and how to get relief [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/itchy-skin/itch-relief/relieve-uncontrollably-itchy-skin 

5. Skin Rashes & Itch. AAAAI [Internet]. Last updated on: 2020 Sep 9. Available from: https://www.aaaai.org/Tools-for-the-Public/Conditions-Library/Allergies/what-makes-us-itch 

6. Itchy Skin? Try These 7 Home Remedies – Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 19]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/home-remedies-for-itchy-skin/ 

 Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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