Ruth Casaletto, pharmacist and founder of Chemist & Co Skin Clinic, writes about itchy skin with skincare routines and links at the end of this article to readily available products that help alleviate these conditions.
There is nothing more irritating (excuse the pun!) than the sensation that makes you want to scratch!
If you are unfortunate enough to experience this regularly, you might be tempted to jump straight to the tips below. However, it might be a good idea to first have a quick read through some common causes of itching.
Dry skin can happen with harsh soaps or detergents, swimming in pools, or environmental changes.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a condition that causes itchy, rough, and cracked patches of skin.
Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction after contact with a substance that the immune system recognises as foreign.
Psoriasis is caused when the immune system becomes overactive, and new skin cells are made too fast. These cells pile up on top of each other, leading to thick, scaly patches that can be itchy and painful.
Hives are raised patches that can result from allergies, heat, stress, exercise and exposure to sun.
Pregnancy can cause the skin to stretch, which can result in itching.
In menopause, the body starts producing less oestrogen, resulting in less collagen and natural skin oils being made. This makes the skin drier and more prone to itching.
Certain medications may make your skin more itchy.
Medical conditions like shingles, multiple sclerosis or if you have had a stroke make you prone to itching.
Certain foods and drinks can also trigger itching episodes.
So what helps soothe itchy skin?
Start with simple things like:
Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack for 5-10 minutes until the itch subsides
Shower or bath in lukewarm water that would be safe enough for a baby
Add oats in a bath to further soothe the skin
Check your shower gel ingredients - avoid SLS as it is an irritant
Use a moisturiser on DAMP skin after a shower or a bath
Opt for unperfumed products if your skin is very sensitive or you have a skin condition
At night, opt for a richer ointment or balm
Wearing cotton/bamboo gloves or socks while sleeping will help a moisturiser penetrate the skin overnight. It's not a fashion statement, but it really works!
Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
Try to wear cotton and natural fabrics rather than synthetic clothes
There is evidence that stress makes itching worse, so putting aside some time to relax (though we understand it’s not always easy!) does help
Reduce your alcohol intake as alcohol dehydrates your body
Take iron supplements if you are vegan or vegetarian, as lack of iron (anaemia) can cause itching
Speak to your pharmacist to see if taking an antihistamine to help reduce itching is suitable for you
It is also helpful to keep a SKIN DIARY noting:
Where is the skin itchy?
How severe is it from 1 to 10?
How long has the area been itchy for?
Is the itching persistent or comes & goes?
Has it been affecting your sleep?
What have you eaten on the day or the day before?
Does your skin feel prickly, like crawling insects or burning?
Are you experiencing higher levels of stress than usual at home or work?
Are you experiencing any other symptoms like fatigue or headache?
What have you tried to relieve the itching - did it help?
Here are some products that we think can help you. Remember, everyone is different, so what works for one person, might not work for another. Sometimes you must try a few different products to find the right ones.
Itchy Skin Products on our Amazon Storefront > https://amzn.to/3ui2rWD
As an Amazon Associate Chemist & Co earns from qualifying purchases.
If these simple measures do not bring you any relief, make an appointment with your GP or a health practitioner, and take your diary with you! Do not wait till you’re kept awake at night or scratching to a bleeding point! Your GP might want to do some further tests, including blood tests, to try to determine if there is an underlying cause for your itching. They can also prescribe prescription-only medications to help you.