July 16, 2009

Getting Rid of Itchy Skin with Home Remedies

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

The medical term for itching is known as pruritus. Itchiness is caused by an irritation to a particular area of the skin that leads to an urge to scratch. Itchiness can occur in one part of the body, at several areas at the same time or all over the body. In most cases, generalized (or all over) itching is tougher to treat than localized itchiness. Depending on the cause of the itch, other symptoms may follow such as red or flaky skin, skin rashes, lesions, blisters, swelling and pain. There are also cases where generalized itching is caused by an internal disease like liver failure, where there is no change to the appearance of the skin but the itchiness persists.

There are several causes of itchy skin such as:

  • Dry Skin: Dehydrated, scaly and dry skin is one of the main causes of itchiness. Cold weather, low humidity, washing too much and stripping the skin of essential oils are just some of the factors that cause dry skin.
  • Skin Disorders: Conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, scabies etc. can all cause symptoms such as dry skin and an itchy skin rash. Fungal or bacterial skin infections also lead to itchy skin.
  • Medical Conditions: Diseases such as diabetes, chicken pox, kidney failure, liver disease, thyroid problems and certain cancers can cause itchiness all over the body.
  • Disorders of the Nervous System: Medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, shingles and peripheral neuropathy can lead to itchy skin.
  • Allergic Reactions: Many people are allergic to substances such as chemicals and wools that irritate the skin on contact. Certain food items may also cause an allergic skin reaction and itchiness.
  • Certain Medications : There are some antibiotics or antifungal medications that can cause generalized itching and skin reactions.
  • Pregnancy: Some women experience itchiness during pregnancy.
  • Psychological Conditions: There are many instances where itchy skin or skin rashes are a result of emotional stress and anxiety.
  • Other Causes: These include exposure to the sun, insect bites and stings, sexually transmitted infections, and parasitic infestations.

In most cases, itchy skin is rarely a cause for concern. Consult with your doctor or dermatologist only if the itchiness lasts for more than two weeks, has no explainable causes, affects the entire body, or is accompanied by other unusual symptoms such as fatigue, fever, loss of weight, and changes in frequency of urination. If none of these red flags occur, you can safely try some of the following home remedies for itchy skin:

  • Apply a cold wet compress to the affected areas and cover the skin with loose bandaging to prevent scratching and lesions.
  • Soak in a cool bath with either oatmeal or baking soda added to the water. These two ingredients help moisturize the skin and soothe any rashes or itchiness. Avoid hot water as this can aggravate the skin further.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to areas of itchy skin for instant relief.
  • Steep some basil leaves in water and splash this infusion all over the itchy skin. The eugenol in basil works as an anesthetic and stops the itching.
  • Similarly, make a mint tea with fresh mint leaves and water. Strain, cool and soak a clean cloth in the tea and apply to the skin. The menthol in the mint acts as an anti-inflammatory and reduces itching and swelling of the skin.
  • Snap open a leaf of an aloe Vera plant and use the gel within to treat blisters, lesions and itchiness.
  • Mix lemon juice with coconut oil and apply to the inflamed areas of the skin. The antiseptic properties of the lemon juice works with the soothing nature of the coconut oil to hydrate the skin and reduces itchiness.