Lifestyle and home remedies
For temporary relief of itching, try these self-care measures:
- Avoid items or situations that cause you to itch. Try to identify what's causing your symptoms and avoid it. This might be rough clothing, an overly heated room, too many hot baths, or an irritating substance such as perfumed soap or detergent, jewelry, or a cleaning product.
- Use a high-quality moisturizing cream on your skin. Apply cream (Cetaphil, Eucerin, CeraVe, others) to affected skin at least once a day.
- Use creams or gels that cool the skin. Try calamine lotion or a product with up to 1 percent menthol.
Apply an anti-itch cream or lotion to the affected area. Short-term use of nonprescription hydrocortisone cream containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone can temporarily relieve an itch accompanied by red, inflamed skin. So can calamine lotion or creams that include capsaicin.
Topical anesthetics, such as pramoxine, may be helpful.
- Avoid scratching whenever possible. Cover the itchy area if you can't keep from scratching it. Trim nails and wear gloves at night.
- Apply cool, wet compresses. Covering the affected area with wet bandages and dressings can help protect the skin and prevent scratching.
- Take a bath or shower. Use lukewarm bath water and sprinkle in baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal — a finely ground oatmeal that is made for bathing (Aveeno, others). Some people with long-term pruritus say that a hot shower eases their symptoms for hours. Others say a cold shower helps. Whatever method you use, rinse thoroughly and apply moisturizer.
- Reduce stress. Stress can worsen itching. Counseling, behavior modification therapy, meditation and yoga are some ways of relieving stress.
- Try over-the-counter allergy medicine. Some of these drugs, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can make you drowsy. They might be helpful at night if your itchy skin keeps you awake.
Aug. 11, 2017
- Fazio SB, et al. Pruritis: Overview of management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
- Cassano N, et al. Chronic pruritus in the absence of specific skin disease. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2010;11:399.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Pathophysiology and clinical aspects of pruritus. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 18, 2016.
- Yosipovitch G, et al. Chronic pruritis. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:1625.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 22, 2016.
- Fazio SB, et al. Pruritis: Etiology and patient evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 23, 2016.
- Cunningham FG, et al. Dermatological disorders. In: Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 25, 2016.