Itching – Coping and Support

Skin itching is oftentimes unbearable and scratching can make the itching even more intense. In order to stop this unpleasant cycle here are some healthy advices to help relieve your itch.

Keep your skin moisturized 24/7 – One of the best ways to prevent your skin from drying up and itching is to keep it moist. Use a moisturizer to emolliate and smooth your skin. When the skin dries, the skin hardens and cracks allowing pathogens to enter the skin and body causing inflammation, itching and other conditions. Moisturizers prevent skin cracking and make the skin flexible making it impossible for irritants and allergens to enter into the skin.

Moisturize your skin immediately after washing or bathing. Use a moisturizer that does not come with chemicals, fragrances or additives. Petroleum jelly or ointments have proven much better in keeping moisture in the skin than lotions or creams. Choose a moisturizer that really feels good on your skin since you will tend to use it more often than a moisturizer you merely tolerate using.

Take a bleach or oatmeal bath – Diluted bleach baths neutralize allergens and kill pathogens that irritate and inflame the skin. When taking a bleach bath, fill your tub with mild or cool water and pour half a cup of bleach into the tub. Immerse yourself in the water for at least 10 minutes and afterwards thoroughly rinse yourself by showering with mild water to remove the bleach from your body.

Talk to your doctor to see if taking a bleach bath is advisable for you since bleach is a caustic substance that can likewise irritate your skin.

For an oatmeal bath, take a bath in cool or mild water and add colloidal oatmeal to relieve your itchy skin. You can buy an oatmeal bath mix which comes with directions on how to take an oatmeal bath at a drug store. Take a bath following the directions in the package and immerse yourself in the bath for about 20 minutes. Dry yourself gently with a soft towel after your bath. Use a moisturizer before dressing up and while the skin is still halfway dry.

Apply cold compresses on your itchy skin – You can put ice in a soft towel or an ice pack inside a plastic bag and then put it on the itchy skin. When the itch has subsided, you can stop applying the compress on the skin.

Use cotton clothing that feels comfortable to you – Clothing that feels good to your skin and one that does not cause irritation or skin friction will help you stay itch-free and comfortable. If possible, do not wear synthetic fabrics, wool or rough textiles that will only irritate the skin.
Trim your fingernails regularly – Long fingernails may carry germs under them and when you scratch with these fingernails, it can cause skin damage and infection and other possible maladies. Trimming your fingernails will prevent itchy and diseased skin. Wear cotton gloves at night to protect your skin if you feel like scratching during your sleep.

Use anti-itching medications – If the above tips do not stop your skin from itching, consult your doctor about medications you can use for your itch. One of the most effective anti-itch medication is 1% hydrocortisone cream which can be bought over the counter and is good at temporarily relieving skin itching. Antihistamines taken orally are also effective in addressing itch particularly if the itch is caused by an allergic reaction. One of the side effects of many antihistamines is drowsiness so if you’re taking these medications, do not drive.
Dale Roach is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Dale Roach, MD,L.Ac in Larchmont, NY.