Everyone gets an itch once in a while.
Usually it only lasts for a short time and is often caused by annoyances like a mosquito bite or scratchy fabric. However, if an itch lasts for more than six weeks, dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology have said that it is considered a chronic itch and is more likely to disrupt your life.
“There are many reasons for itchy skin,” said board-certified dermatologist Hassan Galadari, MD, FAAD, “It could be the result of a skin condition, such as eczema, shingles, hives or psoriasis, or it could be a sign of a contagious disease, like scabies or ringworm.”
To help soothe itchy skin, Dr. Galadari recommends these following tips:
- Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the skin that itches. Do this for about five to 10 minutes or until the itch calms down.
- Take an oatmeal bath. This can be very soothing, especially for blisters or oozing skin due to chickenpox, hives, poison ivy or sunburn. This has also been a good at home remedy for children with mild to severe eczema.
- Moisturize your skin. Always choose a moisturizer free of additives, fragrances and perfumes.
- Apply topical anesthetics that contains pramoxine. Neosporin is a common item that might be in your household that has pramoxine
- Apply cooling agents, such as menthol or calamine. You could also place your moisturizer in the refrigerator to help achieve this cooling effect. Products such as Gold Bond or Eucerin have either menthol or calamine in it.
“While treating your skin, try to avoid scratching, as this will further irritate your skin and could increase your risk for a skin infection,” said Dr. Galadari. “It’s also a good idea to take steps to help prevent your skin from itching.”
To help prevent itching, Dr. Galadari recommends the following tips:
- Bathe with lukewarm – not hot – water. Try to limit your bath or shower to just 10 minutes.
- Always use “fragrance-free” lotions, soaps and detergents to minimize irritation. Be wary of products labeled “unscented,” as they might still have chemicals that can irritate your skin. If you are unsure, you might want to look it up before you buy.
- As directed by your dermatologist, apply medications before moisturizing. Then, apply your moisturizer to all areas of your skin, including areas treated with medication.
- Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Wool and other rough-feeling fabrics can irritate your skin, causing intense itching.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. Maintain a relatively cool, neutral humidity environment in your house. Use a humidifier during winter if you are prone to dry skin and eczema.
- Reduce stress, as stress can make your itch worse. Reducing stress is always different depending on who you talk to. Find what works for you to reduce any stress you might be feeling.
“If your itch does not go away with home treatment, see a board-certified dermatologist,” said Dr. Galadari. “Some people have more than one reason to scratch, and a dermatologist can work with you to find the cause and relieve your itching.”
SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology