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Itching Relief - Topic Overview

Home remedies may relieve itching.

To relieve itching

  • Avoid further contact with whatever you suspect is causing the itching.
  • Keep the itchy area cool and wet. Apply a washcloth that has been soaked in ice water, or get in a cool tub or shower. But remember that repeated wetting and drying will actually dry your skin.
  • Avoid taking a hot shower or bath. Keep the water as cool as you can tolerate.
  • Take an oatmeal bath or hold an oatmeal-soaked washcloth on the itchy area for 15 minutes.
    • You can buy an oatmeal powder, such as AveenoColloidal Oatmeal, in drugstores.
    • If you prefer, you can make your own oatmeal solution. Wrap 1 cup (0.2 L) of oatmeal in a cotton cloth, and boil it for a few minutes until it is soft. Use this as a sponge, and bathe in cool water without soap.
  • Apply a paste of baking soda mixed with water.

If any of these home remedies make the itching worse, stop using them.

To keep itching from getting worse

You may be able to prevent itching from getting worse.

  • Stay out of the sun and in a cool place. Heat increases itching.
  • Use as little soap as possible. If you use soap, use a gentle one, such as Dove, Oil of Olay, or Basis. Avoid using strong soaps and deodorant soaps around blisters or a rash.
  • Try a cool, saltwater compress. To make the solution for the compress, use 2 tsp of salt in 1 qt (1 L) of cool water. Wet a washcloth with the solution and apply the cloth to your skin.
  • Avoid dry skin, which will worsen itching. Apply a moisturizer or calamine lotion to the skin while it is damp. For more information, see the topic Dry Skin and Itching.
  • Wear cotton or silk clothing. Avoid wearing wool and acrylic fabrics next to your skin.
  • Try washing your clothes with a mild detergent such as Cheer Free and Gentle or Ecover. Rinse twice to remove all traces of the cleaning product. Avoid strong detergents when you have a rash.
  • Take several breaks during the day to do a relaxation exercise, particularly before going to bed, if stress appears to cause your itching or make it worse.
    • Sit or lie down, and try to clear your mind of distracting thoughts. Concentrate on relaxing every muscle in your body, starting with your toes and going up to your head.
    • For more information, see the topic Stress Management.

Don't scratch. Scratching leads to more itching and may cause a skin infection to develop. Cut nails short or wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching. Put mittens or cotton socks on the hands of babies and young children to prevent scratching.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 10, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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