Treatment

Once a cause is identified, treatments for itchy skin may include:

Medications

  • Corticosteroid creams. If your skin is itchy and red, your doctor may suggest applying a medicated cream to the affected areas. He or she may also suggest that you cover these areas with damp cotton material that has been soaked in water or other solutions. The moisture in the wet dressings helps the skin absorb the cream and also has a cooling effect on the skin, reducing itch.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors. Certain drugs, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel), can be used instead of corticosteroid creams in some cases, especially if the itchy area isn't large.
  • Antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), may help reduce various types of skin itching.

Treating the underlying disease

If an internal disease is found — whether it's kidney disease, iron deficiency or a thyroid problem — treating that disease often relieves the itch. Other itch-relief methods also may be recommended.

Light therapy (phototherapy)

Phototherapy involves exposing your skin to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Multiple sessions are usually scheduled until the itching is under control.

Alternative medicine

For stress-related itching, you might find some relief of your symptoms through meditation, acupuncture or yoga.