In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective home remedies for itching so you can find the one that works best for you.
Itching can be an incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable experience. Whether it’s caused by a bug bite or dry skin, the constant urge to scratch can leave you feeling miserable.
Fortunately, there are many remedies for itching available to help soothe your skin and alleviate the symptom.
From home remedies like aloe vera to herbal remedies like chamomile, there are plenty of options for relieving this common problem.
The common causes of itching
Itching is also medically referred to as pruritus. It can be caused by different factors, including:
1. Skin conditions
Skin conditions are a common cause of itching. These may include things like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Each of these conditions present with dry and irritated skin that’s often itchy. In some cases, the itching can be so severe that medical attention is needed. These skin conditions can also present with inflammation, redness, and flaky skin.
During allergic reactions, the body’s immune system reacts to certain allergens causing an overreaction than it does in people without allergies. These reactions result in the release of various chemicals, such as histamine, that can result in itching.
3. Insect bites
Insect bites and stings deposit the insect’s saliva or venom, which triggers an itching response. It’s the most common cause of localized itching.
4. Parasitic infections
Parasitic infections like head lice, pubic lice, and scabies mites can also cause itching. For example, the most common symptom of pubic lice is itchy red spots that can get worse at night.
5. Fungal infections
Fungal infections like athlete’s foot or ringworm can cause itching, redness, and discomfort. The fungus thrives in warm and moist areas of the body, so you’ll often experience this symptom in places of folds like armpits and the groin area.
6. Systemic conditions
Itching can be a symptom of kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid problems, and other conditions. If you have persistent itchiness that does not go away with over-the-counter treatments or home remedies, it is best to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical issues.
Many women experience itchiness during pregnancy due to the stretching of their skin as their belly grows. Itching is usually worst in the third trimester when the skin is most stretched out.
8. Dry skin
Itching can also be caused by dry skin. When the skin becomes dry, it can become irritated and itchy. This is often worse in winter when the air is dryer and can strip moisture from the skin. Using harsh soaps can also contribute to dry skin and itching.
9. Certain medications
There are many different medications that can cause itching as a side effect. Some of the most common culprits include:
- Opioids: Prescription painkillers like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone can cause itching in some people. This is thought to be due to their effects on histamine release.
- Antibiotics: Certain antibiotics, such as penicillin and sulfa drugs, can cause allergic reactions that result in itching.
- Antifungal medication: Medications used to treat fungal infections, like terbinafine or fluconazole, may sometimes result in itching.
- Blood pressure medications: ACE inhibitors such as captopril and enalapril can cause itching in some individuals
If you are taking any of these medications and experience itching, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication.
10. Psychological factors
Stress, anxiety, or psychological conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can result in psychogenic itching, where itching is primarily caused or exacerbated by psychological factors.
According to research, psychogenic itching is common in women between the ages of 30-45 years.
11. Nerve disorders
Certain nerve disorders like neuropathy or multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause itching sensations due to abnormal nerve signals being sent to the skin.
MS is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the central nervous system. Itching is a common symptom of MS due to damage to sensory nerves, which leads to abnormal sensations like burning or prickling.
Another common nerve disorder that causes itching is neuropathy. Neuropathy occurs when nerves are damaged or destroyed, leading to numbness, tingling sensations, and itching in affected areas.
The type of neuropathy that often causes itching is called peripheral neuropathy. It affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.
Natural Home Remedies for Itching:
Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and there can be other causes of itching as well. If you are experiencing persistent or severe itching, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
1. Colloidal oatmeal
Unlike the regular oatmeal you often have for breakfast, colloidal oatmeal is made by finely grinding oatmeal into a powder that can easily dissolve in water.
It’s often used to soothe skin conditions like contact and atopic dermatitis. It’s also a common ingredient in soaps and lotions.
In fact, colloidal oatmeal has been categorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a skin protectant. This could be due to its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help soothe most skin conditions associated with itching.
Besides, colloidal oatmeal has been shown to relieve skin dryness, which is also a common cause of itching.
To use colloidal oatmeal for itching, sprinkle a cup of your bath water (warm) the soak for 15 minutes. Pat dry and apply your favorite moisturizer.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a very beneficial plant that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, especially those related to the skin and digestive system.
The gel from the aloe vera plant contains soothing, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that can help relieve itchy skin.
To use aloe vera gel for itch relief, apply the gel to the affected area and allow it to dry. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the gel for additional soothing power. If you’re dealing with an itch caused by dry skin, aloe vera gel can also help moisturize and heal the skin.
3. Baking soda bath
Baking soda is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways. One of the lesser-known benefits of baking soda is its ability to relieve itching when added to bathwater.
If you’re experiencing itching due to insect bites, dry skin, or other irritations, a baking soda bath may help ease your discomfort.
To prepare a baking soda bath, simply add 1/2 cup of baking soda to warm bathwater and stir until dissolved. Soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes, making sure the affected areas are fully submerged in the water.
The alkaline nature of baking soda helps balance the pH levels of your skin and soothes itchy sensations by neutralizing acids on your skin’s surface. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and swelling caused by minor skin irritations.
Baking soda also has cleansing properties that remove impurities from your skin pores which may cause irritation.
Additionally, it gently exfoliates dead cells on the surface of your skin, promoting healthier-looking skin.
Moreover, this remedy is safe for most people, including children but should be avoided if you have broken or irritated skin as it may worsen inflammation.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar that is made from fermented apples, and it contains acetic acid, which can help alleviate various types of skin discomfort.
When applied topically to the skin, apple cider vinegar helps balance the pH levels of your skin, which can reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin. This makes it an effective treatment for many different types of itching, including insect bites, hives, eczema, and psoriasis.
To use apple cider vinegar for itching relief, you can mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle or bowl. Then apply the mixture directly to the affected area using a cotton ball or soft cloth. Alternatively, you can soak in a bath with apple cider vinegar added to the water.
5. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a versatile and beneficial natural remedy that has been used for centuries to treat various skin conditions.
It contains medium-chain fatty acids that have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it an effective treatment for itching because it helps to soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation.
To use coconut oil for itching relief:
- Apply a small amount of the oil directly to the affected area.
- Gently massage the oil into your skin until it is fully absorbed.
- Repeat this process as often as necessary until your symptoms subside.
Herbal remedies for itching
Chamomile is a plant in the daisy family that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments.
Its tea is renowned for its calming effect, and chamomile oil can be found in many skincare products. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it an ideal ingredient for treating skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
When applied topically, chamomile can help soothe and heal irritated skin.
To use chamomile for soothing itching, mix 2-3 drops of chamomile essential oil with one tablespoon of carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area of the skin and massage gently. You can also add a few drops of chamomile oil to your bathtub or make a compress by soaking a clean cloth in chamomile tea and applying it to the skin.
Peppermint is a popular herb known for its refreshing and cooling properties. It has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions, including digestive problems, headaches, and respiratory issues. But did you know that peppermint can also relieve itching?
Peppermint contains menthol, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. When applied topically on the skin, it produces a cooling sensation that can help soothe itchiness and reduce inflammation.
To use peppermint for soothing itching:
- Mix a drop of peppermint oil with one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as jojoba or almond oil.
- Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball or swab.
- Repeat as necessary. You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil to your bathtub to help relieve itching all over your body.
Lavender contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial compounds, which can help reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin.
One way to use lavender for itching is through essential oil. Mix a few drops of lavender essential oil with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil and apply it directly onto the affected area.
Alternatively, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bathwater for an all-over soothing effect.
Another way to use lavender for itching is through herbal tea. Drinking lavender tea can help calm the nervous system and reduce stress levels that could be contributing to your symptoms.
Additional Tips to Relieve Itching:
There are a few additional things you can do to relieve itching:
- Keep your skin clean and dry. This will help to prevent infection and irritation.
- Avoid hot showers or baths. Hot water can strip away natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and prone to itching.
- Use a gentle, hypoallergenic cleanser. Harsh chemicals in soap can irritate the skin and cause itching
- Apply a moisturizer after bathing. This will help to keep your skin hydrated and prevent itchiness.
- Avoid scratching. Scratching can damage the skin and lead to infection. If you must scratch, do so gently with a soft object.
When to see a doctor:
There are many reasons to see a doctor when the skin is itching:
- If the itch is accompanied by a rash, welts, hives, or redness, it could be an allergic reaction and should be examined by a doctor
- If the itch is severe, persists for more than a few days, or covers a large area of the body, it could be a sign of a serious underlying condition and should be evaluated by a doctor.
- If the itch interferes with daily activities or sleep
- If scratching the itch results in breaks in the skin that could lead to infection
- If there are other symptoms present along with the itchiness, such as fever, fatigue, joint pain, or shortness of breath
In general, it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a doctor whenever an unexplained or persistent itch develops.
Itching is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by various factors such as dry skin, allergies, and insect bites.
Fortunately, there are numerous remedies that can help alleviate itching symptoms. Natural home remedies like oatmeal baths, apple cider vinegar compresses, and lifestyle changes like avoiding irritants and maintaining good hygiene practices have been shown to help.
If your itching persists or becomes severe, it is important to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions.
Overall, finding the right remedy for your itch requires patience and persistence, but with the right approach, you can find relief from this bothersome symptom.
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