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Common Causes and Treatments for Itchy Skin

Updated on June 1, 2012
Mosquitoes and other bug bites can cause itchy skin.
Mosquitoes and other bug bites can cause itchy skin. | Source

What is pruritus?

Pruritus is the medical term for itchy skin. Itchy skin can be a common yet annoying occurrence for most people at some point in their lives. Most of the time itchy skin is minor and temporary. However it can be very uncomfortable. So what are some common causes of itchy skin and how can one find relief?

What has caused my itchy skin?

There are many questions that you can ask yourself to help to determine the cause of your pruritus.

  1. Have I changed soap, detergent, deodorant, or perfume?
  2. Have I exposed my skin to different weather elements such as intense sun or high winds?
  3. Have I been exploring in nature and been exposed to bug bites or poison oak, ivy or sumac?
  4. Am I under unusual stress that may be causing hives?
  5. Have I come in contact with someone who has had ringworm or chicken pox?
  6. Have I changed medications recently?
  7. Is my itching throughout my body or is it localized?
  8. Are there any redness, rashes, or sores associated with my itchiness?

Thinking about these questions will help you to determine whether the pruritus is minor and can be treated with over the counter medications or if you need to consult a physician.

Aloe vera plants provide relief to dry and itchy skin.  It is perfect for dryness from sunburned skin.
Aloe vera plants provide relief to dry and itchy skin. It is perfect for dryness from sunburned skin. | Source

Reasons For Itchy Skin

There are many types of itchy skin that people may experience.

  • dry skin
  • hives
  • psoriasis
  • jock itch
  • vaginal itching
  • bug bites
  • ringworm
  • eczema
  • chicken pox
  • sunburns
  • poison ivy, oak or sumac

Home Remedies for Itchy Skin

  • Milk Bath: add 1-2 cups of milk to a lukewarm bath
  • Witch Hazel: Use a cotton ball to apply to the irritated area.
  • Licorice root: Use as a compress on the itchy skin.
  • Chamomile tea: Apply a compress soaked in the tea to the skin.
  • Aloe Vera: Use the thick liquid from the inside of the leaves to apply to the irritated skin.

Remedies for Pruritus

The cause of your itchy skin will determine the remedy that you should follow for your discomfort. In most cases you would use some type of over the counter or home remedy solution to help relieve the discomfort of your itchy skin. However, if there is no known explanation for the itchiness or if you have a history of nerve or internal disorders then it is important to consult a physician regarding your symptoms. This may be the result of a bigger problem that will need more in depth medical treatment.

It is also important to know that scratching is most likely going to make the problem worse. Scratching can lead to broken skin which could lead to infections. So what are some ways that you can relieve the itchy skin that you are experiencing?

Over the Counter Medications for Itch Relief

  • Corticosteroids: Hydrocortisone creams such as Cortaid or Cortizone
  • Antihistamines: Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Clariton
  • Anti-fungal: Lotrimin
  • Calamine lotion: contains zinc oxide

Relief Guide for Itchy Skin

Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
wash oily toxins from skin, antihistamine, oatmeal bath
Dry Skin
apply think cream with moisturizer, keep air humid, use moisturizing soap, and fragrance free detergents and soaps
Use an over the counter antihistamine, consult a physician if the condition is chronic or worsens, don't scratch
over the counter benzocaine or lidocaine, aloe vera
oral antihistamine
moisturizer, topical corticosteriods, for more severe cases consult a physician
Jock Itch
anitfungal creams
Vaginal Itch
over the counter medicines such as vagisil, baking soda baths *This is for external use only. For internal itching, consult a physician.
Bug Bites
antihistamine, topical cortisol creams
consult a physician for treatment

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