- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
What To Do For Itching
Having itchy skin can be extremely annoying.
Sometimes that itch seems like it just won't go away.
Scratching is not always the best way to get rid of an itch and may even lead to infections because of the bacteria that naturally gathers underneath your fingernails.
Find out ways to treat your itch and get relief.
What is causing your itching?
The first question you must ask yourself is why you are itching.
- Do you have allergies?
- Did you get a bug bite?
- Do you have a rash or a wound that is healing?
- Do you have an illness?
- Have you come into contact with plants that cause you to itch such as poison ivy?
- Do you possibly have a nervous condition that may cause you to itch?
Here are some solutions for treating itchy skin based on the reason you are itching.
Itching Because of Allergies
Everything from seasonal allergies to contact allergies to food allergies may cause rashes or itchy skin.
It may be tough to pinpoint exactly what is causing the itch without the help of a doctor.
Sometimes seasonal allergies may cause your skin to itch.
My son developed a rash on his torso. After consulation with a doctor and an allergist, the cause was determined to be a manifestation of regular spring hay fever. A regimen of Zyrtec alleviated the symptoms within a few days.
If you suspect food allergies, your doctor will recommend that you begin removing possible trigger foods from the diet until the allergy is pinpointed. Allergy testing may be done to help find the source. Since food allergies can be life threatening, it is important to consult a doctor promptly if you suspect them.
Another type of itching can be caused by an allergy to a medication such as antibiotics. If you are taking antibiotics and develop an itchy rash, you should contact your doctor immediately. He or she may suggest you stop taking the medication and will prescribe you a new one.
Treatment for Itching Caused by Allergies
The best way to treat skin itching caused by allergies is to first try to limit contact with the source. The table below shows some possible reasons for skin itching due to allergy and ways to eliminate the problem.
Reason You May Be Itching
Ways to Help the Itching
Take a daily antihistamine such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra
Switch your bath soap to a perfume free brand such as Dove Sensitive Skin. Change your laundry detergent to dye-free, perfume-free.
Speak with a doctor about the best way to find the source. Antihistamines such as Benadryl may give some relief.
Itching Caused by Bug Bites
Many times, insect bites can make the victim miserable. Although it is a type of histamine/allergy response, the itching is usually localinzed to one spot.
Types of insects that can cause itching when they bite include:
Just in the case of other allergic reactions, if the itching and redness begins spreading or if you are having trouble breathing, you are facing an emergency situation. Contact a doctor or hospital immediately.
If the pain and itching are localized, you can try treating it with an over the counter remedy first.
Treatment for Bug Bites
Benadryl (Topical Cream)
Collodial Oatmeal Bath
Aveeno Anti-Itch Cream
Neosporin with Pain Relief
Rash, Wound or Sunburn That Is Itching
Sometimes when the skin is healing from an injury, it will itch.
The process of replacing the wounded skin with fresh skin can make the nerves react and cause the injured person to itch.
So while the itching can drive you crazy, it is a good thing!
To help relieve it, you can try an over the counter topical spray that has a numbing agent in it.
You can also try aloe gel with lidocaine in it for soothing relief and painkiller.
According to healthcentral.com, using peppermint oil can also relieve the itching caused by a sunburn.
If the injury continues to itch or shows new swelling or oozing, it may be time to have it looked at by a doctor. It could be infected.
Itching Caused by Illness
If you are sick and itching, there are several different causes and treatments.
If the reason for the correlation between the illness and the itch is known such as when someone is suffereing from chickenpox or measels, then time will help the itch to get better.
Your doctor may also suggest you try a collodial oatmeal bath or use pink calamine lotion.
Sometimes itching can be caused by more subtle illnesses such as:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- blood disease
If your itching is not easily explained by allergies or an obvious correlation, it may be time to see your doctor to rule out the usual sources of itching skin and look for other causes.
If it is an underlying condition, the only way to get relief from the itching is to get the proper treatment from your doctor.
Common Reasons for Itching and Home Remedies
Itching Due To Plant Exposure
Sometimes an itchy rash is caused by exposure to a chemical found in some plants that rubs off on the skin and irritates it.
According to WebMD, the most common plants that may cause an itchy rash or reaction include:
- poison ivy
- poison oaky
- poison sumac
A rash after exposure will appear in one to three days.
Rashes from these plants can be very itchy and painful. If they keep spreading or get near the eyes or mouth, you may need to see a doctor.
Some home remedies for treatment of the rash include:
- Collodial Oatmeal Baths
- Calamine Lotion
- Cool Baking Soda Baths
Itching caused by plants usually just takes time to heal. Using the above methods will likely give you some relief as you get better.
Itching For Psychological Reasons
According to pschologicalselfhelp.com, sometimes we itch because of pscychological factors due to stress, anxiety or other mental issues.
People that are very stressed may break out into itchy hives.
According to Catherine Dean, stress related itching and hives is due to too much inflammation in the body.
The only relief for stress and anxiety related hives is to reduce the stress the sufferer is feeling.
Other psychological reasons include mental illness such as schizophrenia and depression.
If you suspect that your itching has no external cause, speaking with your primary care doctor about stress or mental illness concerns may help him or her figure out why you are itching and help you treat the stress and feel better.
So Many Reasons For Itching
As you can see, there are so many different reasons that your skin can be itchy.
When you feel itchy you are miserable and can only think about finding relief quickly.
Figuring out why you are itching can help you to treat it more effectively and efficiently.
References and Further Reading
- Hives, Rashes, Itching and Contact Dermatitis | Allergy & Asthma Center of Lake Norman
- How to stop the intense itch of a healing sunburn.Tea, asprin, milk, spray,cool bath, don't
My 23 year old daughter got one at the beach the other day. And yes, she used a 50 factor sunscreen...for babies... as she has two little kids. The kids d...
- Insect Bites | Ask Dr. Sears®
Health, nutrition, recipes, attachment parenting, breastfeeding help and advice from Dr William Sears
- Living With Stress Related Hives
Hives can be caused by sustained periods of stress and tension. It is a warning sign from your body that something is not right and attention needs to be paid to the cause.
- Slideshow: Poison Plants
You may know to look for poison ivy's three-leaf stem, but what else do you know about rash-causing plants? WebMD explores myths and facts of poison plants.