Itchy Skin: What To Do

woman, shoulder, scratching, itchy skinIf you suffer from itchy skin, referred to medically as ‘pruritus’, skin will feel uncomfortable and irritated, making you want to scratch. While the result is the same: you itch, therefore you scratch, causes may range from rashes or other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. Itchy skin may also result from a more serious condition such as liver disease or kidney failure. And, it could also be the result of an allergy. Itchiness may be accompanied by a rash or bumps, or skin may appear perfectly normal.

Treating Itchy Skin

The objective to managing itchy skin is to identify the cause and treat it, which will deliver longer term relief. Synthetic fibers or coarse wool and other fabrics, jewelry (nickel is particularly problematic), perfume or cosmetics can all potentially cause itchy skin.

Scratching, while it may offer relief, may actually intensify the itch and lead to skin that is thickened and leathery in appearance. It can also lead to bacterial infection or permanent skin damage.

Here are some tips to help soothe irritated, itching and/or inflamed skin:

  • Short-term use of topical anesthetics such as lidocaine or benzocaine, or topical preparations containing pramoxine, menthol, camphor or calamine may help. Non-prescription hydrocortisone cream, topical and oral antihistamines may also be beneficial. Keep in mind that some individuals have allergies to lidocaine or benzocaine. If this is the case, then consider a product containing pramoxine instead. Sarna P contains pramoxine, camphor and menthol and can help relieve your itchy skin
  • An ingredient like urea helps to attract water to skin and also helps to soothe itchiness associated with dry, irritated skin. Consider products like Uremol or La Roche Posay Iso Urea.
  • Apply cool, wet compresses or take a cool bath. These can help to soothe the irritated skin. Oatmeal baths may be especially soothing. Avoid the use of harsh cleansers; use mild soaps. Moisturize after the bath as dry skin may be the cause of the itching. Read our article on dry skin treatments for more information
  • Avoid scratching. Easier said than done, but scratching can worsen an itchy skin situation and damage skin.