With the winter months in full swing, dry and itchy skin is a problem for many. Some may think their itchy skin is just seasonal, but did you know that if your itchy lasts for more than six weeks it’s considered to be a chronic itch? Sometimes there’s more than just the weather to blame for your constant skin itching.
What causes itchy skin? Board certified dermatologist Hassan Galadari says that your itchy skin is the result of eczema, shingles, hives, psoriasis, or could even be a sign of a contagious disease like scabies or ringworm.
At Home Remedies for Itchy Skin
The best thing to do if you have a chronic itch is to visit your doctor. However, if you’d like to try some at home tips to soothe your itch, Dr. Galadari shared some of his recommendations with the American Academy of Dermatology.
Dr. Galadari recommends applying a cool compress or ice pack to the skin that itches for temporary relief. You may also want to look into a cooling agent like menthol or calamine if you require more of relief—you can even place your moisturizer in the refrigerator to enhance its cooling effect. Taking an oatmeal bath is especially soothing when you have oozing blisters due to chickenpox, hives, poison ivy, or sunburns. The most important thing to do to is moisturize! Keep your skin constantly hydrated, especially in the winter months when the air is cold and dry.
In addition to these at home treatments, Dr. Galadari also recommends that you refrain from itching, since it can irritate your skin and increase the risk for infection.
How to Prevent Itchy Skin
In order to take care of your skin effectively, it’s important to take preventative measure to avoid itchy skin in the future. Dr. Galadari recommends abiding by the following tips to decrease your risk of developing itchy skin:
Bathe with lukewarm – not hot – water.Try to limit your bath or shower to just 10 minutes.
Always use “fragrance-free” lotions, soaps and detergents to minimize irritation.Be wary of products labeled “unscented,” as they might still have chemicals that can irritate your skin.
As directed by your dermatologist, apply medications before moisturizing. Then, apply your moisturizer to all areas of your skin, including areas treated with medication.
Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes.Wool and other rough-feeling fabrics can irritate your skin, causing intense itching.
Avoid extreme temperature changes. Maintain a relatively cool, neutral humidity environment in your house. Use a humidifier during winter if you are prone to dry skin and eczema.
Reduce stress, as stress can make your itch worse.
If your itch does not subside with home treatment, then it`s recommended that you visit a board-certified dermatologist. Dr. Galadari notes that some people have multiple reasons for being itchy, and that your doctor can help assess the situation can get you the right treatment.
Check out this video from the Academy of Dermatology for more tips on how to treat and prevent itchy skin:
“Itchy Skin? Dermatologists Share Tips for Relief,” American Academy of Dermatology web site, January 10, 2017; https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/itchy-skin-dermatologists-share-tips-for-relief, last accessed January 12, 2017.