No matter what's leading you to scratch, the itchy sensation can be painful, uncomfortable and annoying. If the need to scratch doesn't go away, your day can be disrupted and you may find it difficult to sleep. It's important to make sure your doctor checks out chronic itching so you can receive appropriate treatment for any health conditions that cause the itch. Once you know the cause and can treat it appropriately, you can use home remedies to help you relieve and soothe the itch.
Causes of Itchy Skin
Many factors that can cause your skin to itch. You may simply suffer from dry skin due to cold weather, air conditioning or excessive bathing. Some skin conditions also lead to itchiness, such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. It's also possible to develop itchy skin as a symptom of allergies, illness or disease, such as chickenpox, celiac disease or nerve disorders. Whether the itch results from one of these causes or as the result of a bug bite or medication, you can use home remedies to prevent scratching from leading to more severe symptoms.
Consequences of Itching Without Treatment
It's natural to think that scratching an itch will make it feel better, but it can actually make your skin itch even worse. When you scratch persistently, your skin can become red, inflamed, raw and may even break open. Some skin conditions can lead you to develop thick, leathery skin if you scratch it frequently. Once scratching breaks the skin or causes sores, you become susceptible to infection.
Home Remedies to Relieve Itching
Soaking in an oatmeal bath is a common way to relieve itchy skin. Mix 1/2 cup of colloidal oatmeal, a finely ground oatmeal that won't clog your drain, with warm water in the bathtub and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. You can substitute the same amount of cornstarch for the oatmeal, if desired. Alternatively, you can apply a cool compress to the areas that itch, leaving them in place for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Avoid wetting and drying your skin too often because this can exacerbate dryness. To further combat itchiness, make a thin paste with baking soda and water. Dab the paste onto your skin at the site of the itch and allow it to dry. You can leave this remedy on your skin until it flakes off on its own or remove it next time you wash.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce or Eliminate Itching
Long, hot baths with scented soap can aggravate dry, itchy skin. Take a two to three-minute bath or shower instead, using an unscented soap and fragrance-free moisturizer afterward. Wear clothing made with natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, so your skin can breathe. Avoid allergens and skin irritants, such as metallic jewelry if you're allergic to it or perfumed laundry detergent. Once you know what triggers skin irritation and itchiness, you can work to reduce or eliminate those triggers.
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