Updated: Aug 7, 2019
An itch, also known as pruritus, is a general sensation arising from the irritation of skin cells or nerve cells associated with the skin. Pruritus serves as an important sensory and self-protective mechanism, in the same way as other skin sensations such as touch, pain, vibration, cold and heat. However, it can cause a lot of discomfort and may even become a significant distraction. There are many causes of itching including:
Skin reactions to heat
Healing around a cut or burn
Longer-lasting skin conditions; eczema, psoriasis etc
Fungal skin infections; ringworm, athlete's foot etc
Parasites or insects living on the skin; scabies, head lice etc
Hormonal changes associate with pregnancy or the menopause.
In rare cases more serious conditions such as thyroid, liver or kidney problems.
Prevention is always better than cure so here are some tips to try and prevent itching:
Bathe with Luke warm water and try to limit your bath or shower to just 10 minutes.
Always use irritant free lotions, soaps and detergents to minimise irritation.
As directed by your GP/dermatologist, apply medications before moisturising and then apply your moisturiser to all areas of your skin, including those areas treated with medication.
Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Wool and other rough-feeling fabrics can irritate your skin, causing intense itching.
Avoid extreme temperature changes. Maintain a relatively cool, neutral humidity environment in your house. Use a humidifier during winter if you are prone to dry skin and eczema.
Easier said than done but try to reduce stress in any way you can (meditation, exercise etc) as it can make your itching worse.
Reduce inflammation within your body by making sure your diet contains more; oily fish and/or other omega rich foods such as seeds, fresh fruit and leafy green vegetables. Try to reduce your intake of; caffeine, alcohol and spicy food.
Once itching starts here are a few tips for trying to reduce or eliminate the feeling:
Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the skin that itches. Do this for about five to 10 minutes or until the itch subsides.
Take an oatmeal bath. A natural product used in many types of soaps and lotions, it can also be added to a cool bath.
Moisturise your skin with an irritant free moisturiser. A good quality moisturisers will hold water in the outermost layer of your skin helping it feel hydrated and less dry and itchy.
Apply a topical anaesthetic as recommended by your GP or local chemist.
Take an antihistamine if you believe the itching to be allergy based.
Apply an anti-itch cream that contains at least 1 percent hydrocortisone. This drug inhibits inflammatory responses in the body and can help calm inflamed, itchy skin. This cream should be used for the shortest period possible and then discontinued.
Apply cooling agents, such as calamine or aloe vera. You could also place these in the refrigerator to enhance the cooling effect.
Stop scratching! When you have an itch, scratching is the natural response but it won’t help the problem. In fact, it may tear up the skin, prevent it from healing and can cause infection. You need to break the itch-scatch cycle so try extra hard not to scratch your skin. Keep your fingernails clean, short and smooth and try patting or tapping the skin instead of scratching if at all possible.
Which skin care products will help relieve itching?
odylique - repair lotion
A lightweight lotion for face and body to calm distressed, dry and itchy skin. This is our favourite itch relief product which in addition is; Vegan, made up of 94% organic ingredients and is Soil Association approved. Perfect for those suffering with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema/ dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis.
For a full list of our products which contain calming and itch relieving ingredients please go to our itch relief page of the Skind shop.
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