Have you ever seen someone yawn and then suddenly found yourself yawning? Just thinking about itchy skin can have a similar domino effect and make us feel itchy.
Whether caused by chiggers, chickenpox, or some other skin irritation, itchy skin is downright irritating. A constant itch can make it hard to function and be “comfortable in your own skin.” That said, finding the right treatment is usually the next step most people take. However, in a sea of itchiness, it is not always easy to decide on the best route.
Amidst the overwhelming itch, here is some information on different treatments, key ingredients to look out for, and what you may want to steer clear of.
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 became an over-the-counter treatment, 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 with the intention 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 can lead people to mistakenly think that it carries no risk. If you decide to use hydrocortisone, make sure to read and follow 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 great options. Oatmeal baths are beneficial because oats have skin-soothing properties and help reduce the itch. 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 ( great for dry skin). With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this treatment is a useful aid in reducing skin irritation. Bentonite clay helps address the itch, while removing irritants and toxins from the skin. Bentonite clay is also shown to support healing in skin lesions, and 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 have barely covered the tip of the iceberg. I hope you find a treatment that is best suited for your needs.
Stay well, stay kind, and stay itch-free!