Itchy Skin Treatment

itchy skin treatment

There are two ways to deal with itchy skin — you can try to relieve the symptoms, or you can work to treat the underlying causes. Both strategies accomplish the same end goal — stopping frequent, oh-no-there-it-is-again! itch suffering. However itchy skin treatment options that target the source can provide longer-lasting relief.

This article will discuss treatment options and what you can expect. As always, consult with your doctor for further clarification. We know how convenient Dr. Internet is, but not all treatment protocols are appropriate for every cause, so a proper diagnosis is essential.

Treating Dry, Itchy Skin

Dry skin is a frequent, easily treatable itch generator. Any number of external and internal factors can cause rough, bumpy patches of dry skin to appear, including environmental temperature and humidity variations, hot, extended showers, harsh detergents, soaps, and skincare products, and conditions like eczema. Frequent handwashing and heavy use of hand sanitizer can also cause chronic dry skin (keratosis pilaris.) We’re looking at you, COVID-19.

Short, lukewarm showers or baths will help keep your skin healthy. Use an itch relief shampoo and body wash that’s free of fragrances, dyes, and other harsh chemicals like parabens and phthalates. After toweling off, protect your skin with a hypoallergenic, moisturizing itch relief cream to relieve itchy skin symptoms and help hold moisture in the skin.

Corticosteroid Treatments

Your doctor may suggest a topical corticosteroid preparation to ease the underlying causes of your red, itchy skin. This can range from mild, over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams to a more aggressive, prescription itchy skin treatment. Prescription steroid creams come in many strengths and are typically prescribed in cream or ointment form. Your doctor will tailor the strength of the steroid to the severity of your skin condition These medications work to meter the body’s inflammatory response, lessening redness, swelling, and allergic reactions.

Antihistamine Treatments

Topical corticosteroids work from the outside in. Oral antihistamines work from the inside out. Your doctor might recommend a non-drowsy medication like fexofenadine (Allegra) or loratadine (Claritin). Or they may prescribe an oral sedating antihistamine like diphenhydramine or hydroxyzine. Whereas topical treatments only affect the skin they’re applied to, oral medications affect the desired response throughout the body.

Additional Itchy Skin Treatment Medications

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor might suggest a calcineurin inhibitor like pimecrolimus (Elidel) or tacrolimus (Protopic), or a new class of prescription steroid-free cream called crisaborole (Eucrisa). These reduce inappropriate immune responses that can lead to itchy, uncomfortable skin.

In some instances, a physician might recommend topical medications like doxepin or capsaicin (the molecule that lends the spice to foods like jalapenos). These relieve symptoms more than they treat the cause of the itch.

When looking for itchy skin treatment for sudden onset itching from something like poison ivy, oak, or sumac for example, sometimes an oral steroid may be advised depending on the severity of the reaction.

Other Ways to Treat Itchy Skin

People with severe chronic itchy skin caused by eczema that are not improving with topical medications have long yearned for a new way to treat itchy skin. A new prescription injectable medication called dupilumab (Dupixent) has had very promising results and really improved patients’ quality of life by decreasing itch and improving sleep.

Research has shown that certain antidepressants, like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) can treat chronic itchy skin symptoms in patients who don’t respond to topical preparations or oral antihistamines. The precise mechanisms aren’t entirely understood yet, but it’s possible that antidepressants help reduce stress, a condition that can cause itchy skin and exacerbate existing issues. This brings us to our last suggestion.

Reduce Stress

When you’re stressed out, do you bite your nails, pick your skin, bite your cheeks, crack your knuckles, or…scratch your skin? These body-focused repetitive behaviors can be symptoms of ADHD, but they’re also common stress responses. Stress can heighten your sensitivity to external factors and drive damaging behaviors. Reducing stress is an itchy skin treatment that doesn’t involve medications but can be very effective.

Try a hobby that relaxes you, exercise regularly, visit with friends and family (virtually if necessary), or adopt a yoga or meditation practice. Treatments for stress are just as varied as potential causes. Find something that works for you, and you may discover a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of your itchy skin symptoms. You’ll also increase your happiness quotient, and that’s worth any amount of effort.

Don’t Forget

When treating itchy skin with a prescription or non-prescription medication, many physicians will reiterate the importance of avoiding skin irritants like fragrances and dyes in commonly used household items that come in contact with your skin. Some of the most common offenders that contain irritating ingredients are detergents, dryer sheets, shampoo, body wash, and moisturizing creams.

If you have itchy skin, use a shampoo and body wash designed for sensitive skin, and always apply a bland emollient at least twice daily to protect and restore the skin barrier.


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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What may cause the itchiness?

There are many reasons why your skin may be itching. These include eczema, psoriasis, hives, insect bites, and parasites. If you need to diagnose your skin condition, look for other symptoms or consult a doctor.

What could itchy skin indicate?

Constant itchy skin may indicate that your skin might develop severe skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, burns, scabies, parasites, or insect bites.

What part of the body may become itchy with liver issues?

People may face the issues of having itch on the soles of their feet, limbs, or palms of the hands in case of liver is not working well.

Which corticosteroids can be used for itchy skin?

Doctors prescribe corticosteroids to relieve the itch in different skin conditions. Some of the most common corticosteroids prescribed by them are clobetasone and hydrocortisone.

Can antihistamines help with itching?

Yes, antihistamines are very effective for itching. Oral antihistamines work from inside the body and manage the root cause that may be causing the itch.

Can I take Claritin for itchy skin?

Claritin may help relieve itchy skin. But never take any medication without the consent of the doctor. Medication can cause side effects, so it is always best to ask a doctor.

Can stress cause itching?

Yes, stress can cause itching. Stress causes many changes in our body, especially in the nervous system and hormones. These changes can cause itching or burning sensation on the skin.

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