Nothing is more irritating and distracting than incessant, itchy skin that never goes away. Sometimes, you have to take a minute to tackle the itchiness before you can get any work done or relax at home. If you don’t know what to use for itchy skin, you’ve come to the right place.
Where Does Itchy Skin Come From?
Did you know that itchy skin actually has a scientific name? Itchy skin is officially called "pruritus," and any itchy skin falls under this categorical term unless you have another specific skin condition.
While practically everyone experiences a particularly itchy area once in a while, the possible causes for itchy skin are diverse. You might have a skin condition, your skin might be dirty or dry, there might be an almost invisible insect bite, or maybe it's some other factor causing that temporary but annoying skin irritation you just can't get away from.
The good news is that most causes of itchy skin can be cared for with home treatments and natural remedies.
That being said, make sure to use your common sense and seek the advice of a dermatologist or other health care provider if you think there may be an underlying skin condition or if it's a chronic itch that won't go away.
Now, let’s break down all the possible causes of itchy skin and how to treat them with some home remedies.
General Home Remedies for Itchy Skin
There are a few key anti-itchiness solutions that work for practically all itchy skin scenarios.
First and foremost, a cold bath is your friend. Cold baths help to relax the skin and reduce the inflammation that often comes with bug bites and other types of itchiness.
You can go even further and make an oatmeal bath by adding a cup of colloidal oatmeal into the tub! This doesn’t mean you pour your breakfast into the bathtub; instead, you’ll want to find a dedicated oatmeal bath product that’s made with oats ground into a superfine powder. The oats can treat your itchiness much better than regular cold water can on its own.
On this note, try to avoid hot water, which has the potential to further irritate your already irritated skin.
You’ll also want to look into over-the-counter anti-itch medication. Diphenhydramine cream or hydrocortisone cream can inhibit the inflammatory response your body produces whenever it encounters an itch-causing substance. Calamine lotion is also a viable option for itch relief, but it primarily works by cooling the skin versus fighting the irritants from the inside.
Oral antihistamines are another solution: these are great for treating allergy symptoms. However, be sure that you only take these orally and that you never take them in conjunction with a topical cream that contains an antihistamine like diphenhydramine. Drowsiness is a common side effect of oral antihistamines like Benadryl--many people take advantage of this and take them before bed, helping them to both relieve the itch itself and get to sleep even if the itch is bothering them.
Now, let’s break down some specific solutions for different itchy skin causes.
One major component of how your skin is composed includes small pockets called pores. Your skin's pores are actually important parts of the epidermis, the topmost layer of your skin. Your pores are responsible for helping various skin activities take place, like hair growth, dead skin cell replacement, perspiration, and more.
But, these pockets can eventually become stuffed with dirt and debris, most of which is invisible to the naked eye. Even though you can’t see the dirt, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there and causing your skin to itch.
If your pores become too dirty, your skin might itch all the time. Dirty skin really is something that can cause itchiness depending on your skin type! However, folks with particularly sensitive skin will get itchiness from plain old dirt more frequently than others.
How to Treat It
Dirty skin is the easiest to take care of – just take a good shower and be sure to clean all over! If your skin is itchy primarily because of dirt packed into its pores, getting rid of that dirt should take care of your issues.
Skin care is of the utmost importance, itch or no itch!
We’d recommend a great body soap and face wash made of natural products to ensure that you don’t remove too much of your skin’s protective oil (which can make your skin dry) but still do a great job of cleansing your pores. For your face, you might consider adding a cleanser or toner to do even more deep cleaning.
Of course, dry skin can also cause incessant itchiness. That’s because dry skin can’t flex or move as well as properly moisturized skin. Dry skin is also easier to crack and break, which may cause surface-level damage that causes further itchiness and discomfort.
Many people get dry skin during the winter months of the year, when the ambient air around them is colder and drier than usual. The difference in heat and humidity between the surface of your skin and the air around you may cause moisture to evaporate more quickly, resulting in dry skin.
Other folks have naturally dry skin, or may have a skin condition that makes it difficult for their skin to retain adequate moisture throughout the day.
How to Treat It
In the case of dry skin, your best bet is to use moisturizers with natural ingredients like hyaluronic acid and plant-based ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, and coconut oils to help your skin maintain optimal moisture levels throughout the day. Furthermore, moisturizing is quite soothing to your skin, and can help alleviate the temporary discomforts of itchiness.
Oily, acne-prone skin can feel itchy because your skin naturally produces a protective oil called sebum, which it might produce too much of. When this happens, the sebum can push dirt and debris deep into your pores and keep it there, resulting in acne and general grime that can irritate your skin and make you feel itchy.
How to Treat It
If oily skin is the cause of your itchiness, your best bet is to remove the excess sebum from your skin. In this case, a good face wash and toner are your friends.
The key is to avoid over-washing your face, as this may accidentally make your oily problem even worse. Regularly washing your face to remove excess sebum, dirt, and other irritants helps you balance your skin oils naturally. You want to have oil, just not too much!
Bug bites are a particularly common cause for itchy skin, especially during the summer months when bugs are more numerous. Common bugs that may bite your skin and cause itchiness include mosquitoes, fleas, ants, and even small spiders.
In most cases, bug bites appear as itchy red bumps that are surrounded by small red halos or even a small skin rash, depending on which bug bit you. These indicate where the bug actually bit your skin. The irritation may be caused purely from a minor skin break or by a small amount of venom lacing the bug’s mandibles.
Bug bites usually aren't too serious, but they can be quite itchy. In some cases, like with mosquito bites, you have to be careful about the possibility of other diseases being transferred to your blood via the offending insect.
How to Treat It
Bug bites have been a bane of human existence for quite a long time. But, products like Green Goo’s First Aid Salve are excellent remedies, with Green Goo’s salve in particular including pain relieving ingredients that pair with other all natural ingredients that can protect and soothe your skin as it heals.
Better yet, a repellant like Green Goo’s Bugs Be Gone can help make sure you don’t get bit in the first place! If you ever do use a repellant or bite relief salve, always be sure to purchase a product made with natural ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals that may do lasting harm to your skin.
If you’re unlucky, you might also be hit with a skin condition that causes itchiness either on a single affected area or across your entire body.
Eczema is usually a lifelong skin condition that requires regular treatment through a combination of prescription or OTC medication along with natural skincare remedies. Eczema is essentially a collection of different types of dermatitis, including contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, or nummular eczema.
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that results in an allergic reaction whenever you make contact with a substance you’re allergic to. It causes your skin to become itchy, scaly, or raw, and the resulting skin rash usually has visible borders to indicate where you touched the substance you are allergic to.
Furthermore, contact dermatitis can cause blisters, which bring additional discomfort.
How to Treat It
Treating long-term skin conditions generally requires the assistance of a doctor specializing in dermatology. For conditions like eczema, a doctor will usually prescribe a topical cream to be used daily, along with recommending dietary changes or avoiding certain substances to prevent the symptoms of eczema from flaring up. Adding in an all natural whole-body moisturizer like Green Goo’s Dry Skin salve can also be a huge supporter in alleviating some of your symptoms like dry, red bumps and cracked hands and feet.
For other types of dermatitis, follow the instructions of your health provider.
Sometimes, people get itchy skin when they develop a food allergy and their immune system reacts incorrectly to whatever substance they are allergic to. Common foods and beverages that trigger allergic reactions include:
Some folks have particularly overactive immune systems and may experience immunological side effects within minutes of consuming the substance they're allergic to. Others may experience a prolonged allergic reaction. Symptoms can be mild to severe, although itchiness is usually a fairly mild side effect and is generally treated with medication or by avoiding the allergen for a while.
Alongside food allergies, you might also experience an allergic reaction to another substance or medication. These reactions are often accompanied by hives, which are raised itchy welts that feel warm and mildly painful to the touch.
Even more commonly, people can experience an allergic reaction to poison ivy oil or similar plant oils. Practically everyone is allergic to these oils, and they cause severe itching and irritation upon contact with the topmost layer of the skin. Such rashes are usually easy to identify as they’re bright red, and sadly, easy to spread if you aren’t careful.
How to Treat It
Itchy skin can be treated for allergic reactions (that aren’t too serious) using the same oatmeal bath, cool water, and anti-itching cream solutions recommended above. However, some specific allergies or immune system conditions require certain creams that only a doctor can prescribe.
You can also use topical creams or lotions like Green Goo’s Poison Ivy Salve to tackle the symptoms of specific plant rashes.
All in all, treating itchy skin is an exercise in finding the right cream, salve, or bath routine that works for you. Regardless of the cause, a lot of itchy skin symptoms can be alleviated by avoiding the allergen making you itchy while using the right products to keep your skin healthy in the first place. Remember to talk to your doctor if your itchiness ever becomes severe. Otherwise, target natural products with natural ingredients, and remember what your momma always said: you better not scratch that itch!