9 Things That Relieve Itchy Skin

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Beasley on October 2, 2022
  • smiling woman drinking bottled water outside
    Skin relief is on the way!
    Itchy skin, also known as pruritis, can be caused by many conditions including dermatitis, eczema, pregnancy, diabetes, allergies, medications, and basic dry skin. No matter the cause, itchiness can be annoying and disruptive to your life. Nighttime is when itchy skin often irritates people the most. In the evening, your body releases cytokines that increase inflammation and itchiness. It slows the production of corticosteroid hormones that reduce inflammation. To add insult to itchiness, there are fewer distractions at night, which can make your dry skin and irritation feel worse. Fortunately, there are sensitive skin care routines, products and medications that can provide itchy skin relief.
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    1. Medicated Creams
    Covering the affected areas of your skin with a corticosteroid cream is an easy way to soothe itchy skin or a skin rash. You can also try a calcineurin inhibitor like pimecrolimus (Elidel) or tacrolimus (Protopic), if the area that itches is small. In addition, it may feel good to apply cotton gauze that has been soaked in cold water. Wet dressings help your skin absorb the cream and they cool the skin, reducing itchiness and irritation.
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    2. Allergy Medicine
    One popular itch remedy may be an item you already have in the medicine cabinet for hayfever and seasonal allergies. Over-the-counter allergy medicines that contain diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help reduce itching quickly. As a bonus, they make you drowsy, which can be a benefit at night if your itching keeps you awake. There are also topical creams that contain diphenhydramine and act fast to reduce irritation.
  • Little blue pill
    3. Antidepressants
    Another itch relief strategy that might surprise you is taking antidepressants. Drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) give you a boost of serotonin that relaxes the receptors in your body that make you feel itchy. These medications are typically prescribed for chronic itching that needs a long-term management solution.
  • young Caucasian woman applying cold compress to hand
    4. Cooling Techniques
    Keeping your skin cool is an affordable, simple way to reduce inflammation and itching. Covering your itchy spots with a cold, wet compress is helpful, especially at night when your skin is more likely to be inflamed. A damp covering will also help keep you from scratching. You can also apply a cold pack to your itchy spots. This works best if the affected area is small.
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    5. Stress Reduction
    Stress can heighten that itchy feeling and make you more annoyed and irritated. Though it’s not an instant fix, stress reduction techniques can help reduce your stress levels over time and provide relief for chronic itching. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are good do-it-yourself techniques to manage stress. You might also consider getting professional help with counseling, biofeedback, or behavior modification therapy.
  • Young woman applying cream
    6. Specialty Moisturizers
    Quality moisturizers don’t have to be expensive, though you should get ones formulated for sensitive skin. Choose a heavy product, like a cream instead of a lotion. Thicker products will help seal in the most moisture. You may also want to try a cooling moisturizer like calamine or one that contains menthol. Apply once or twice a day after you’ve bathed or showered. Pat your skin dry and immediately apply the moisturizer to get the most benefit.
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    7. Baking Soda or Oatmeal Baths
    Taking a lukewarm bath with a mild soap for sensitive skin can bring you some itch relief, especially before bed. You’ll up the ‘aaahhh’ factor if you toss in a few secret ingredients from your pantry. Try adding a cup of baking soda to your bath water and soaking for 30 to 60 minutes. You might also try grinding up oatmeal into a fine powder in your blender or food processor and adding it to create a soothing anti-itch bath.
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    8. Apple Cider Vinegar
    Apple cider vinegar has antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help relieve dry skin and itching. For best results, use raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. You can apply it directly on your affected skin with a cotton ball or washcloth. If you’re itching all over, add 2 to 3 cups of vinegar to your bath water and soak for 30 minutes.
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    9. Water
    Water is great for your health in many ways, including itch relief. Drinking more water keeps your skin hydrated from the inside out and flushes out toxins that can cause irritation. Remember, caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating and can worsen itching. If possible, opt for water instead of your morning coffee or evening cocktail. Cover all your bases by hydrating your skin on the outside, too. Use a humidifier at home, especially in your bedroom while you sleep.
Itchy Skin Relief | Sensitive Skin Care
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Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 2
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.