Don’t think about it! If you think about it, the itch will return. Oh…you thought about it. Sorry about that. We know how it goes. Itchy skin can drive you crazy. It’s a constant bother that ranges from slightly annoying to jump-out-of-your skin painful. Relief for itchy skin, also called pruritus, can sometimes seem unattainable, but rest assured that there are options available.

This article will discuss some of the more common ways to achieve itchy skin relief. Of course, if your skin issues feel severe, you should see your doctor. What follows is just a guide to get you started. Let the relief begin!

We Know You Want to Scratch That Itch But You Really Shouldn’t

Above all else, you should try to avoid scratching itchy skin. It feels good, we know — terrific in fact. But the relief that only lasts while you’re scratching, and in the interim, you could be doing further damage. Scratching can exacerbate many causes of itchy skin, leading to a more painful condition and an increased risk of infection.

Work to ignore the feeling while you try some of the itchy skin relief methods below. Make a habit of reminding yourself not to scratch, and if you catch yourself, stop immediately. If you can put it out of your mind, the itch may subside. So on that note, consistently keeping the nails well-trimmed will help avoid damage in those moments where scratching just can’t be avoided.

Relief For Itchy Skin You Already Have

If your skin is already bothering you, there are a few things you can try. Your doctor can recommend medication and other treatment protocols if you don’t find relief.

Use a Skin Moisturizer

Dry skin may be the cause of your woes. If so, a moisturizing itch relief cream can make a marked difference. Choose a product free of dyes, fragrances, and other harsh chemicals that can aggravate your condition. Using a moisturizing cream at least twice daily can help restore and protect the skin barrier.

Apply a Cold Compress

You can soothe the itch and prevent scratching by placing a cool, wet cloth or an ice pack on the offending area. Be sure to choose soft, natural fibers to avoid unintentional scratching. Leave this on until the itching subsides.

Try an Oatmeal Bath

Several manufacturers offer over-the-counter colloidal oatmeal bath treatments. Simply dissolve the oatmeal in a lukewarm bath and soak for relief. This treatment is particularly useful for rashes, insect bites, hives, poison ivy, and chickenpox.

Use Over-the-Counter Itchy Skin Relief Products

You have several options available to you. Calamine lotion is effective for bug bites and other minor skin irritations. It can also dry out the oozing and weeping caused by poison ivy, sumac, and oak. Menthol and aloe products can also be useful, particularly for itchy sunburn.

For the following two itchy skin relief options, you should consult your doctor first if using on a child less than 2 years old. Hydrocortisone creams are used on the skin to help with swelling, itching, redness and irritation associated with dry skin conditions. They cannot be used all day every day though, as continued non-stop use could be harmful to the skin. You can also try products that contain the topical anesthetic pramoxine.

In some conditions to relieve itchy skin a pediatrician or dermatologist may recommend a sedating over-the-counter antihistamine for a short period of time. If this is the case, then likely other prescription medications would be considered as well.

How to Avoid Itchy Skin

If you tend to suffer from itchy conditions frequently, an ounce of prevention can sometimes be worth a pound of cure. Avoid skin care products that contain parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and dyes. Using an itch relief shampoo and body wash can help keep the itch at bay.

When showering or bathing, favor lukewarm water over hot and try to limit yourself to ten minutes or less. Extreme temperature changes and extended soaking can dry out your skin. Apply a chemical-free moisturizer after patting yourself dry.

Avoid clothing made with wool, synthetic fibers, and other rough materials. Loose-fitting cotton clothing won’t stress your skin and can provide cooling relief.

Finally, and this can’t be repeated enough, don’t scratch. It’s a cruel irony that the most satisfying way to find relief for itchy skin is also the worst, but there it is. The universe, it seems, is not without a sense of humor — stupid universe.