Itching, also known as pruritus, is a sensation that often prompts the desire to scratch or rub the affected area. It can occur on the surface of the skin or within the body. Itching can vary in intensity and duration and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as redness, rash, or swelling.
Itching can have various causes, including:
Skin conditions: Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, hives, or dermatitis can cause itching.
Allergic reactions: Allergies to certain foods, medications, insect bites, or contact with allergens can result in itching.
Dry skin: Dry skin lacks moisture and can become itchy, especially during colder months or in dry climates.
Insect bites and infestations: Mosquito bites, flea bites, or infestations like scabies or lice can cause itching.
Systemic conditions: Certain systemic conditions, such as liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid problems, or certain types of cancer, can lead to generalized itching.
Nerve disorders: Conditions like neuropathy or shingles can cause itching due to abnormal nerve signals.
Medications: Some medications, including opioids, antifungal drugs, and certain antibiotics, can cause itching as a side effect.
Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, or psychological disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can manifest as itching.
What is a Skin Allergy?
A skin allergy is when skin becomes irritated because the immune system reacted to something that is usually harmless. This is called an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction can cause rash, itching, burning, redness, bumps, hives, and swelling. Many different allergens can cause a reaction.
Treatment for itching depends on its underlying cause. It may include over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, moisturizers, or specific treatments for the underlying condition. If itching persists or is accompanied by severe symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
How to treat a skin allergy at home
There a number of home remedies that people have used for years to relieve the symptoms caused by allergic skin reactions. Here are some of them:
Oatmeal has a variety of biologically active properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. These all can help soothe the itch of allergic skin reactions.
Popular ways to use oatmeal to treat a skin allergic reaction include an oatmeal bath or poultice. Both require powdered oatmeal. You can make powdered oatmeal by grinding store-bought oatmeal into a fine powder using a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder.
Add 1 cup of powdered oatmeal to a bathtub of lukewarm water.
Mix the oatmeal thoroughly into the bathwater.
Get into the tub and fully immerse your body.
After 30 minutes, rinse yourself with a cool, gentle shower.
Add 1/4 cup of powdered oatmeal into a mixing bowl.
Mix distilled water into the powdered oatmeal, 1 tsp. at a time.
Continue mixing and adding water until you have a smooth, spreadable paste.
Apply the paste to the affected area.
Gently bandage the area with a moistened cloth.
After 30 minutes, remove the moist cloth and gently rinse the area with cool water.
Moisturize the area.
Options: You can also add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, four drops of lavender essential oil, or even both.
Baking soda can address skin pH imbalance and works as an anti-inflammatory to soothe your skin allergy.
Baking soda paste
Mix together 4 tbsp. of baking soda and 12 tbsp. of distilled water until it forms a paste.
Apply the paste to the itchy area.
After 10 minutes, gently rinse the area with cool water.
Option: Instead of water, use coconut oil.
Baking soda bath
Mix 1 cup of baking soda into a bathtub of lukewarm water.
Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Soak your fully immersed body for about 15-minutes.
Rinse yourself in a gentle, lukewarm shower.
Plants and herbs
Natural practitioners recommend a variety of plants to treat skin allergies. Some of these recommended plants include:
Aloe vera. Topical use of the clear gel of the aloe plant may soothe the itch of atopic dermatitis and other skin issues.
Rumex japonicus Houtt. A 2006 study Trusted Sourceidentified this common perennial herb as a potentially effective alternative therapy for atopic dermatitis.
Persimmon leaf extract. A 2002 studyTrusted Source on mice found oral intake of persimmon leaf extract demonstrated both preventive and healing qualities for atopic dermatitis.
Konjac ceramide. A 2006 studyTrusted Source indicated that taking konjac ceramide by mouth improved skin conditions and reduced allergic responses in children with atopic dermatitis.
Other plants and herbs often suggested by natural health practitioners as skin allergy home remedies include: basil, chamomile, coriander, English marigold, neem, stinging nettle
While it’s always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for persistent or severe itching, there are a few home remedies you can try to alleviate mild itching:
Cold compress: Apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the itchy area. The cold temperature can provide temporary relief by numbing the skin and reducing inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, and apply the solution to the itchy skin using a cotton ball. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and may provide relief from itching caused by insect bites or allergic reactions.
Moisturize the skin: Apply a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer to the affected area to help alleviate dryness, which can contribute to itching. Look for moisturizers containing ingredients like ceramides or shea butter.
Aloe vera gel: Apply pure aloe vera gel to the itchy area. Aloe vera has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe itching and promote healing.
Tea tree oil: Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and apply it to the itchy area. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help reduce itching.
Calamine lotion: Apply calamine lotion to the itchy area. It contains a combination of zinc oxide and ferric oxide, which can provide relief from itching and help dry out oozing or weeping skin.
Remember to patch test any home remedy on a small area of skin before applying it to a larger area to check for any adverse reactions. If your itching persists or worsens, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.