When you have dry, itchy skin, it is subject to be accompanied by an incessant, annoying itch. Other conditions, including: psoriasis, eczema and allergic reactions, can cause the skin to become itchy, as well. Below are nine tips to help you alleviate that annoying itch!
Itching Tip 1- Trim Those Nails!
Okay, so trimming your nails won’t stop your skin from itching. However, it may help prevent you from breaking the skin and exposing yourself to infection. Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria found colonized on your skin, in your navel and nasal passages, can collect underneath the fingernails when you scratch at your skin (or pick your nose)! If your nails cause the skin to break, you risk introducing Staphylococcus aureus into your bloodstream and developing Staph. infection. This is a serious infection and in age populations including the young and elderly, it can even be fatal. Keep your nails trimmed short. Even with taking anti-itching precautions, you may scratch at your skin during the night when you sleep.
Itching Tip 2- Avoid Fragrances
Fragrances are the third largest culprit for causing allergic skin reactions associated with eczema and itch. Avoid using products that contain fragrances or perfumes. Remember that even if a product isn’t promoting itself as containing a specific scent, that companies include fragrances to mask chemical smells. Look for products that contain a “fragrance free” label. If you can live without cologne or perfumes, I recommend you do. If you insist on spraying on the smell goods, always be careful to not spray directly on the skin. Spray your clothing instead. Still, I advise you skip them altogether.
Itching Tip 3- Ice, Ice Baby
Ice numbs your nerve endings and will help relieve that incessant itch begging for you to scratch at it. This is a temporary, natural way to stop that annoying itch in it’s tracks!
Itching Tip 4- Pat the Skin
When you step out of the shower or bath, be careful not to rub the skin dry with your towel. Rubbing creates friction that can lead to skin irritation. Pat your skin dry instead.
Itching Tip 5- Use Free and Clear Detergents
Often times, people have developed skin allergies to chemicals found in laundry detergents and don’t realize that their laundry is the culprit of the itch and subsequent hives and dry skin that are accompanied by using harsh detergents. Replace your detergent with a free and clear laundry soap. Wash all your clothing and bedding with it.
Itching Tip 6- Say Goodbye to Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softeners
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are not a necessity when laundering clothes. However, both of them have been identified as triggers of skin conditions flaring up and allergic reactions. Avoid their use altogether!
Itching Tip 7- Take an Antihistamine
Antihistamines have been shown to help alleviate itching in some people. Sometimes they can cause drowsiness, even when they suggest they do not. It is best to take a 24 hour relief antihistamine before bed. Speak with your physician about implementing this method for anti-itching relief.
Itching Tip 8- Switch to Lukewarm
Hot water can dry out the skin. When the skin becomes dry, it can cause it to itch. Avoid taking hot baths and showers and switch to lukewarm temperatures!
Itching Tip 9- Moisturize Religiously
Most moisturizers recommend a twice a day application. While this is sufficient for some, I encourage an up to four times per day application when skin is excessively dry and itchy. Choose ointments and heavy creams over lotions for optimal moisture lock. One of the best times to apply moisturizers is 3-5 minutes after you get out of your shower or bath. The best defense for itching skin is maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Use moisturizers that contain essential skin lipids, cholesterol esters and ceramides (ceramide 3 in particular). These products are best formulated for repairing the skin’s barrier and eliminating itch.
Dr. Cheryl Lee Eberting is a board certified dermatologist that has dedicated her practice and research to develop skin care treatment options for conditions such as: eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.