Have you ever watched someone yawn and then suddenly found yourself yawning? Much like the domino effect of yawning, just thinking about itchy skin (or watching someone desperately trying to scratch an itch) can make us feel itchy.
Whether caused by chiggers, chicken pox, or some other skin irritation, itchy skin is downright irritating. Given that itching can undermine your ability to function properly and make it hard to be “comfortable in your own skin,” finding the right treatment is usually the next logical step to take. However, in a sea of itchiness, it is not always easy to discern the best route.
Amidst the crashing waves of itch surrounding you, here is some information on different treatments (and perhaps what you may want to steer clear of) , as well as key ingredients to look for.
One of the most commonly used topical treatments for itchy skin is hydrocortisone. This steroid medication comes in various strengths, available over the counter at 0.5% and 1%, and a higher strength (2.5%) in prescription hydrocortisone. While in the past this drug was initially only used as a prescription medication, when it made the switch to OTC, the FDA assumed that patients using it would read and adhere to the directions on the label. The thing is, how many people do you think actually read and follow this information?
An interesting British study explored this concern, and a team of researchers surveyed patients who were using hydrocortisone products (intending to treat a number of conditions). According to their findings, at least a third of the people had purchased the treatment for unlabeled uses, and some(10%) were applying it to their face. Hydrocortisone is not safe to apply to the face (unless directed by a physician, with very specific instructions for use) and can damage the skin.
As an aside, hydrocortisone can worsen long-term conditions such as rosacea and acne if used incorrectly. Perhaps due to the fact that hydrocortisone is somewhat overused leads people to mistakenly assume that it carries no risk. If you decide to use hydrocortisone, tread carefully and make sure to read and heed the wording on the label. For safe use, it is important to have a clear understanding of the warnings, precautions, and recommended uses for hydrocortisone.
Among the traditional treatments used to help allay itchy skin, oatmeal baths and bentonite clay are two noteworthy methods. Oatmeal baths are beneficial because oats have skin-soothing and itch-reducing properties. Due to their saponin content, oats are very effective at calming inflamed skin, while also cleansing and enhancing the skin’s ability to retain moisture–also great for dry skin. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this treatment is a useful aid in reducing skin irritation.
Bentonite clay is another treatment used to help eliminate the itch. This earthy stuff is an especially powerful aid in eliminating itchy skin. Bentonite clay works by pulling irritants and toxins from the skin, while also soothing inflammation. Bentonite clay is also shown to promote healing in skin lesions.2 A true medicinal mud, bentonite clay has been used throughout history for its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties.
All in all, there are a wide variety of treatments for itchy skin, and we’ve barely covered the tip of the iceberg. I hope you find the “right match” for you, and choose a treatment that is best suited for your needs.
Stay well, stay kind, and I hope you stay itch-free!