Chronically itchy skin is possibly one of the most uncomfortable feelings us humans have to endure, especially if the itch is unresolvable – think itchy skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or hives or the humble but severe itch of a mosquito bite.
Here dermatologists offer you some tried and true way to help keep the itch down and scratching damage to a minimum no matter the cause.
Dermatologist Itch Tip #1 – Apply a cold wet cloth, ice cube or ice pack, or use cooling agents like menthol or calamine
Reducing sensation in the itchy area can work wonders, since the blood and nerves carrying signals telling the skin to itch can’t get through as quickly or in as greater numbers. Cooling can be achieved by using menthol (like Vicks Vaporub) or calamine as well, which feel cool.
Dermatologist Itch Tip #2 – Have an oatmeal bath (yes, it actually works)
Oatmeal baths are surprisingly soothing to itchy skin because of the high beta-glucan and starch concentrations. These ingredients hold in water to create a barrier effect over the skin, while the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity is exerted by phenols. Oatmeal is actually a cleanser, moisturiser, buffer and a soothing and protective anti-inflammatory agent all rolled into one. This means regular bathing can make itchy skin conditions like eczema feel better immediately.
Dermatologist Itch Tip #3 – Moisturise immediately after bathing
After a bath or shower, apply moisturising all over your body straight away, as soon as you are dry. This traps in the moisture that was absorbed in the bath before it can evaporate, leaving your skin drier than ever. Use a good quality moisturiser. If you want, put your moisturiser in the fridge for an extra soothing application. If you have skin medication, apply prior to the moisturiser to lock it in.
Dermatologist Itch Tip #4 – Don’t wear tight clothes and avoid itchy fabrics
Loose clothes don’t irritate skin, while smooth fabrics avoid the itch that can come with wool, for example.