Relieve Itch

Edited by Timbuktu, Charmed, Ephraim, Eng and 5 others

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Stop Your Itch By Home Remedies and Basic Ointment and Creams

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Isn't it annoying to feel itchy all over especially when you cannot seem to control the urge to scratch at the most inconvenient times? Yes, it's certainly an embarrassing scenario if the sudden itch happens when you are out on a date or right in the middle of an important business presentation.The itch could come and go or occur frequently depending primarily on varied trigger factors such as allergies to dust or other systemic and skin ailments that you might have but are not really aware of. In fact, chronic itch or itching that happens on frequent or regular intervals can interfere with a person's regular routine and turn every important event into an awkward moment.

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Sometimes itchiness lasts a long time and can be intense. As you rub or scratch the area, it gets itchier. And the more it itches, the more you scratch. Breaking this itch-scratch cycle can be difficult, but continued scratching can damage your skin or cause further infection and adverse complications.

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There are different ways to relieve itch. Some known remedies can temporarily provide relief while there are also available treatments that can completely eradicate itch depending on the underlying causes and nature of your itch problem. Many people who believe in the value of Naturopathic treatment combined with modern science in treatment of itch go for home remedies like herbs as well as basic ointments and creams that are readily procured over the counter.

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Overview on Pruritis or Itchy Skin

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"Pruritis" is a medical term specifically pertaining to an unpleasant and uncomfortable sensation which urges an individual to compulsively scratch the affected areas of the skin. This is more commonly referred to and understood by many people as "itch". That troublesome, awkward, and irritating "itchy" feeling can be felt generally or in the entire body as well as locally or in certain points of the body which gives one that instinctive "scratch reflex". Interestingly, scratching an affected part of the skin has been traditionally linked to providing both pleasure and relief from itch. The so-called "scratch reflex" is said to help get rid of insects that could be hovering at your back or some other areas of your body. However, scratching too hard for an extended period of time is not advised especially for people who have severe cases of itch such as chronic dermatitis which can leave your skin painful, red, bruised, damaged, and inflamed. Pruritus exist in an itch-scratch cycle in which varied harmful pathogens or allergens can cause irritation and trigger itch and inflammation to set off a scratch reflex. Itch is known to vary in intensity as it can range from a mild itch to a debilitating health condition that warrants immediate medical help.

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Studies show that only the topmost layers of the skin - dermis and epidermis - are dubbed as itch receptors which are able to respond with sensitivity to itch triggers. This proves that there are no itch receptors embedded in the muscles or joint fibers. Itch can be further categorized as being acute or that which occurs when set off by certain trigger factors and would fairly last for a short-term duration or chronic which pertains to itch felt on a much regular basis for a prolonged period of time like when it persists longer than 6 weeks. More so, the itchy sensation can be either either "neurogenic" or can originate from the central nervous system or "dermal" linked to the peripheral nervous system. Pruritus can be brought about by a myriad of causative factors such as an allergic reaction to environmental allergens or food consumed, extremely dry skin, as well as a number of systemic diseases, skin ailments, pregnancy, and psychological factors. There is a popular notion that itch can be considered contagious. To some extent, it could be somewhat similar to "contagious yawning" as itch is also said to be precipitated by visual stimuli such as when your professor is having a discussion regarding itch or if there are a number of people scratching in a group which could trigger "mirroring" that can make you fell itchy and respond by scratching all over.

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Common Signs and Symptoms of an Itchy Skin

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  1. 1
    Itchiness.The itchy sensation may be felt over a localized region such as one arm or leg; or it may be experienced in the entire body.
    This generally appears as the only symptom or may be accompanied with other associated symptoms.{
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  2. 2
    Redness.
    The affected area may appear red, inflamed, and warm to touch.
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  3. 3
    Dryness.
    Cracked skin or flakiness is the first indication of dryness and irritation which can lead to further itching, soreness, and increased irritation.
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  4. 4
    Scaly skin.
    The skin may appear leathery in texture which is often accompanied with dryness.
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  5. 5
    Rashes or Bumps.
    With increased inflammation and irritation brought about by scratching and infection - rashes, blisters, or bumps tend to appear on the affected site which may increase in severity or could lead to further complications depending on the medical condition you might have.
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  6. 6
    Increased Sensitivity.
    The skin may appear tender and is observed to have increased sensitivity to palpation.
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  7. 7
    Pain.
    Such sensation can be felt alongside itchiness in relevance to the skin or systemic diseases that might be causing this symptom. Numbness and tingling may also be felt on the affected parts of the body.
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  8. 8
    Bleeding.
    The affected skin area may bleed due to infection, inflammation, or severe scratching.
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Risk Factors and Causes of Itchy Skin

Basically everyone may experience the itchy sensation once or a lot of times in their lives but there are certain risk factors which makes some people more predisposed than others towards contracting this condition.

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  1. 1
    Age -
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    People who are at their old age tend to have dry and wrinkled skin which makes them highly susceptible to a number of skin diseases and more so, in developing itchy skin than younger individuals
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    They also have a more compromised and lowered immune system which makes elderly people probe towards a number of systemic diseases that can trigger itchy sensation.
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  2. 2
    Pregnancy -
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    Hormonal changes that occur in pregnant women and even those who are having their menopause can exhibit itchiness in different parts of the body
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    More so, a number of systemic and skin diseases can be brought about by pregnancy such as Interhepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) which is characterized by extreme itch felt in the soles of the feet as well as on the palms which comes on much stronger during nighttime. The itch becomes more prominent in the third trimester which can also be felt in other regions of the body. Cholestasis is said to be the most common culprit for jaundice in pregnancy. Next in line is Gestational Pemphigoid which is described as an autoimmune skin illness that are common in expectant mothers. These produce itchy lesions or rashes that become more apparent during the second and third trimesters. Lastly, pruritic urticaria papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) are characterized by papules that form alongside stretchmarks which can be uncomfortable because of the itchy sensation yet not at all that risky for expectant mothers. This usually starts spreading in the abdomen and into the extremities (excluding the face). Recent studies show that moms who are pregnant with baby boys are more susceptible towards contracting this medical condition rather than those who are conceiving baby girls.
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  3. 3
    HIV AIDS -
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    People who are suffering from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are more prone to experiencing itchy skin because of certain associated diseases triggered by the virus which include herpes simplex type 1 and 2 which usually appear as cold sores near the mouth or in and around the oral cavities
    .
    It can also appear in the genital area or commonly called "genital herpes" which are considered to be contagious and sexually transmitted. Another illness called "shingles" or commonly referred to as "herpes zoster" is described to appear with rashes or blister which is distinct at one particular side of the body with associated numbness, tingling, pain and discomfort, itching, and inflammation that can persist and increase in severity for several weeks. Other diseases linked to HIV which can trigger itchy skin are psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis which are both characterized by redness, inflammation, flaking or scaling of the skin, and itchiness which can be found in varied parts of the body (even in the fingernails).
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  4. 4
    Cancer -
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    Itching is considered to be one of the common symptoms of cancer which can manifest in any part of your body
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    The itchy sensation with cancer patients occur because of different reasons such as certain chemicals that are released by cancer of the blood, having dry skin, reaction or side effects of certain cancer medications especially painkillers like diamorphine and morphine, side-effects of chemotherapy radiation, as well as developing jaundice and allergies. Some cancers that can trigger pruritus in patients are the following: brain cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, polycythemia vera, pancreatic cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer; among others. Certain chemotherapy drugs such as Cytarabine and Paclitaxel can cause allergies to patient which results to itching on the needle site. Radiation therapy can deplete skin cells which result to extreme dryness and peeling of the skin with associated itching and burning sensation felt on the affected areas. In addition, bone marrow transplant performed in patients suffering from leukemia and other blood disorders can cause graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) which precipitates dryness of the skin and rash formation which can be very itchy. More so, certain supportive medications for cancer can also cause itching such as antibiotics, painkillers, hormones, corticosteroids, and drugs for relief of nausea and vomiting.
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  5. 5
    Psychological Factors -
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    There are some cases of patients who have "delusional bug syndrome" or "delusional itching" that frequent dermatology clinics in the effort to find solutions to their itching problem which is supposedly triggered by bug infestation
    .
    The only dilemma is that skin experts cannot find any potential parasitic cause other than psychological or emotional factors. In addition to that, these patients are fully convinced that there are bugs causing the itchy feeling and they tend to seek more skin experts just to find the solutions that they need. More people are now experiencing itchy sensation as a response to stressful situations or a symptom alongside panic or anxiety attacks as well as when facing intense emotional issues. Some psychological or psychiatric ailments that manifest continuous scratching movements due to imagined itch consist of schizophrenia or multiple personality, associative obsessive states, and dermatitis artefacta; to name some.
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  6. 6
    "Xerosis" or Dry Skin -
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    This is one of the most common or typical causes of itching as dryness of the skin can cause hypersensitivity, flakiness, scaliness, and extreme itching of the affected spots of the skin
    .
    Certain weather conditions or temperature changes can also affect the moisture content of the skin which can make it dry especially during Winter or cold months of the year. Staying in an air-conditioned room for a prolonged period of time can also cause extreme or sudden dryness of the skin which can lead to itching. A skin condition called "prickly heat" characterized by red and itchy rash formation can manifest during extremely humid or hot seasons.
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  7. 7
    Allergies -
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    Allergic reactions to certain foods and medications can contribute to an itchy skin
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    The immune system acts as a defense mechanism against harmful pathogens and toxins that can wreak havoc to the body's equilibrium and cause severe allergic reactions. In fact, even harmless materials can cause hypersensitivity or allergic reactions in some patients. Allergic reactions can manifest instantly or can take some time for symptoms to show up. This is also regarded as a hereditary condition which can be passed on from one generation to another. There are a number of food groups that can be considered as typical allergens. Urticaria is one of the most common skin problem associated with consumption of certain foods or with intake of some medications. Such condition is characterized by redness, inflammation, and itching or raised bumps on the skin. Some of the most common food allergens include shrimps, shellfish, soy, wheat, milk, eggs, strawberries, peanuts, and other dairy products. Certain medications and vaccines can also cause severe allergic reactions depending on your overall health and medical condition. Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other sulfa drugs can cause hypersensitivity. This also holds true for antibiotics like amoxicillin or penicillin. Some chemotherapy drugs can also harbor similar symptoms. Both general and local anesthetics are also known to cause allergic reactions in some patients. Adverse and sudden allergic reactions can be a life-threatening condition or that can result to "anaphylaxis" which could be fatal.
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  8. 8
    Environmental Factors -
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    Almost anything present in the environment can be considered as an allergen
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    There are some people who have highly sensitive skin that can easily be irritated with animal dander, pollen, smoke, and dust which are found in homes, offices, streets, and practically everywhere. There are certain chemical compounds that can also cause severe itching and irritation when these come in close contact with our bodies. Such pollutants can be found in some soaps, lotions, makeup, detergent, hair dye, tattoo ink, and latex; to name a few.
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  9. 9
    Lung or Nasal Infections -
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    People who are suffering from certain respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, hay fever, or nasal polyps can exhibit itching of the nose and other parts of the body along with other recognizable symptoms such as fever, runny nose, cough, and malaise; among others
    .
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Basic Home Remedies and Treatments for Itchy Skin

  1. 1
    Hydrocortisone Creams -
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    You can use hydrocortisone creams which can help you temporarily alleviate or relieve your itchy skin condition
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    Be sure to use small amounts of hydrocortisone cream on your face and genital area where you have extremely sensitive skin. You can purchase these over the counter at any drugstore or even securely order them online. You can opt for stronger formulations to combat severe itching. If you are to use the cream on large areas of your body like the extremities, then it is highly advisable to mix the cream with your choice of moisturizer. Follow the usage and dosage instructions as indicated.
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  2. 2
    Petroleum Jelly -
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    Apply petroleum jelly on dry areas of your skin such as the feet
    .
    This can even be placed on the genital area and mouth. This is proven to help soothe and reduce dryness, chapping, soreness, and itching on affected areas. Lotion can also be used alongside petroleum jelly which helps to lock in moisture in the skin to prevent extreme dryness and irritation.
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  3. 3
    Menthol Ointment -
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    Some ointment specially those mentholated Chinese ointment like Betet or Katinko are regarded to be highly effective in reducing itch and inflammation in different parts of the body
    .
    This also helps relieve muscle tension and body pain. This type of ointment is a popular skin itch and body aches treatment in Asia especially in China, Taiwan, Philippines, and Malaysia
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  4. 4
    Aloe Vera -
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    This plant coined by the Egyptians as the "plant of immortality" is very popular as a remedy for a number of skin and hair dilemmas as well as for treatment of burns
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    This essentially helps promote hair growth; but is also an effective treatment for itchy and irritated skin. Experts do believe that Aloe Vera has in fact more stronger properties that can alleviate itchy skin as compared to that of hydrocortisone.To use this as an itch remedy, you have to cut the Aloe Vera and use the gel-like substance of the plant and rub it directly on the itchy part of your body. The gel-like substance is known to contain the medicinal properties of Aloe Vera.
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  5. 5
    Jewel Weed -
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    This is a distinctive green plant that can also help you relieve itch
    .
    The jewel weed plant is said to be abundant mostly in the USA. The juice of the jewel weed is rubbed directly on the itchy part of your body.
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  6. 6
    Neem Leaves -
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    The oil of neem tree is the one that is mostly used to relieve itch
    .
    This is most popularly used in India. The leaves of the Neem tree do not just help with eradicating itch but also helps with scars and other skin problems.
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  7. 7
    Oral Antihistamines -
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    You can pop over-the-counter oral antihistamines for fast relief of itching
    .
    Some popular choices of oral antihistamines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratadine (Claritin); to name some.
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  8. 8
    Oatmeal -
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    This is not just a fiber-rich food that many dieters prefer but also nourishes the skin with its anti-inflammatory compounds (avenanthramides)
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    For ages, oatmeal has been considered as an effective natural remedy for variety of skin problems such as chickenpox. This is applied directly on the affected spot as an oatmeal poultice or mixed in with other essential oils for that lovely and soothing warm bath.
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  9. 9
    Baking Soda -
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    This is known to relieve all sorts of body itches
    .
    You can prepare a baking soda paste by mixing 1 cup of water and 3 cups of baking soda which you can apply on the itchy part of the skin. This is however not advisable to be used topically on damaged skin. You can also prepare a warm baking soda bath by adding 1 cup baking soda to a full tub of warm bath. You can try soaking for 30 minutes to an hour to make you feel revitalized and itch-free.
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  10. 10
    Peppermint Leaves -
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    The use of peppermint leaves and other mint herbs has been linked as remedy for itchy skin, hives, and bug bites due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic formulations
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    First off, crush the peppermint leaves and rub or massage it directly on the affected area of your skin. You can even try freezing the peppermint leaves as it can maximize the cooling effect of the mint herb and provide easy relief for itchiness, pain, and inflammation. Also, you can try making use of a mint tea rinse to soak the affected area of the skin.
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  11. 11
    Basil Leaves -
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    Basil leaves are rich in anti-itch and anti-inflammatory compounds namely thymol and camphor which works easily by simply crushing the leaves and rubbing it directly onto the itchy part of the skin
    .
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Reminders for Relieving Itch

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  • The above remedies are very helpful, try to use and prepare all these to help you with your itch, and you should try to control yourself from scratching as it can cause severe skin damage. Even if you feel so itchy what you need to try is look for those remedies to help you. You may also try patting your skin or doing gentle strokes instead of scratching.
  • No matter what remedy works for you in relieving itch (creams, ointments, oils, et cetera.), remember that what is important is that you are not allergic to the substance, it will not cost you a foot and a leg, and that the essence of your remedy is that it will moisturize and soften your skin, because the skin, when it is dry, will be prone to itchiness.
  • If you are suffering from chronic itching then it is advisable to make sure that you always trim your nails short and to wear protective gloves at night to prevent skin damage brought about by scratching.
  • Make sure that you keep your home clean and free from any potential allergens that can irritate and cause your skin to itch. Use hypoallergenic pillows, towels, and blankets to safeguard your family from environmental pathogens.
  • Wear light and comfortable fabric for you to avoid causing allergies or irritation on your skin.
  • Keep track of your food and medication allergies and watch what you eat to avoid further health complications.
  • Remember to keep oral antihistamines, hydrocortisone creams, and other necessary items on your first aid kit to be prepared for any sudden allergic reactions especially while traveling or even right at the comfort of your own home.
  • It is always deemed best to consult your physician to get the right treatment procedures for your skin itch and medications that are appropriate for your skin condition.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Skin Care & Diseases

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Anonymous

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