Itchy skin, or what doctors call pruritus, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Fortunately, many natural and home remedies can help provide relief. Common causes of itchy skin include insect bites, allergies, stress, and skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. This article outlines some of the best natural and home remedies for itching.
1. Applying menthol
Menthol oil can relieve pain and itching. Menthol is an essential oil found in plants of the mint family. It has a cooling effect and can help relieve pain and itching. Researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group received a bottle of sesame oil infused with a 0.5 percent concentration of peppermint oil. The other group received a bottle containing a combination of sesame and olive oils. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.
2. Cooling the itch
The American Academy of Dermatology suggest that a good way to relieve itchy skin is to apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the affected area for 5–10 minutes. Cooling helps reduce inflammation that may be contributing to the itch. Another option is to keep moisturizing creams and lotions in the refrigerator. This will ensure they have a direct cooling effect when a person applies them to the skin.
3. Wet wrap therapy
Wet wrap therapy (WWT) involves applying water-soaked fabric wraps made of gauze or surgical netting to areas of itchy skin. These wraps rehydrate and soothe skin while providing a physical barrier that protects against scratching. This treatment can be especially beneficial for children. WWT may also help the skin to absorb medications, such as topical steroids. Before applying the wraps, gently rub or pat medications on the area, and follow with a generous layer of moisturizer.
The NEA suggest the following steps for applying wet wraps:
- Moisten a section of gauze in warm water until it becomes damp.
- Wrap the gauze around the itchy area of skin.
- Wrap a dry piece of gauze over the top of the damp one.
- Carefully put on soft, cotton pajamas, taking care not to disturb the bandages.
- Leave the bandages on for several hours or overnight.
A person can use WWT for a few days to control an intense flare-up of itching. If itching does not subside, it is best to talk to a doctor or dermatologist about extending the therapy or trying an alternative treatment.
4. Colloidal oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal can relieve itching and dryness. Colloidal oatmeal is finely ground oatmeal that a person can dissolve in water. The resulting solution forms a protective barrier on the surface of the skin, which helps to seal in moisture. Colloidal oatmeal can help to relieve dryness and itching. Colloidal oatmeal also has known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which help to reduce skin irritation. Colloidal oatmeal is widely available in creams and lotions. Alternatively, a person can add the finely ground powder directly to bath water.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which people have used for thousands of years as a natural wound disinfectant and antiseptic. The NPF recommend diluting the vinegar in water using a 1-to-1 ratio. Apply the solution to the scalp and let it dry before rinsing it gently with lukewarm water. Vinegar can cause a burning sensation on open wounds. People with cracked and bleeding skin should avoid this treatment.