The 8 Best Remedies for Itching

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on March 12, 2015Written by Summer Fanous on March 12, 2015

Itching can be more than a small annoyance. It can cause a lot of discomfort and may even become a distraction. When is itching serious and how can you cure your itchiness at home?

Your skin can itch for a variety of reasons. For example, you may have touched a certain type of plant, such as ragweed or poison ivy. Psoriasis is a common condition that causes scaly, dry skin because of skin cell buildup. Illness, an insect bite, or healing from a burn or cut can also cause you to feel itchy.

Read on for some tips on how to cure the itch.

1. Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal isn’t something you eat for breakfast. This type of oatmeal is made from oats that have been ground into a very fine powder. A natural product used in many types of soaps and lotions, it can also be added to a cool bath.

One study found that this product is safe and helps treat itchiness from any variety of causes. You can find colloidal oatmeal at many pharmacies, or make your own by grinding oats into a fine powder.

2. Leaf Gels

Try a plant-based product like aloe vera gel or cooling menthol for simple itches caused by sunburns or mosquito bites. Both of these products can be purchased at most drug stores.

3. High-Quality Moisturizers

Good quality moisturizers hold water in the outermost layer of your skin. This can help your skin feel hydrated and less dry and itchy. Examples of high-quality moisturizes include Eucerin and Cetaphil.

4. Be Cool

Mayo Clinic recommends a simple solution for mosquito bites: a cold pack or a bag filled with iced. The key, as you might have noticed, is cold. Avoid exposing the affected area to hot water as much as possible. It will only irritate the skin more.

5. Antihistamines

Histamines are chemicals in the body that cause allergy symptoms, including itching. An antihistamine drug is a common treatment for allergic reactions. However, many antihistamine drugs will make you sleepy, so they’re best used before bed.

One study recommends applying topical antihistamines directly to the affected area to avoid side effects associated with oral antihistamines.

6. Hydrocortisone

An anti-itch cream is another common way to soothe itchy skin. Buy 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. Anti-itch creams are available over-the-counter at drug stores.

7. Antidepressants?

According to some studies, antidepressants might be able to help with itching, too. These drugs cause a release of serotonin that can relax the receptors in your body that provoke the itchy feeling.

8. Stop Scratching!

When you have an itch, scratching is the natural response. But it won’t help the problem. It may tear up the skin and prevent it from healing. It may even cause infection. Try extra hard not to scratch skin. Wear comfortable clothes that don’t irritate the skin and keep your fingernails properly trimmed.

When Is Itching a Serious Problem?

Regardless of the cause, schedule an appointment with a doctor if you’re itching consistently for three or more days.

While itching usually doesn’t indicate a serious problem, general itchiness all over can sometimes be a sign of a serious condition, including thyroid, kidney, or liver disease, or even cancer.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe itchiness without any bites, wounds, or rash.

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