An itchy throat is a condition that can make it difficult for you to talk or swallow due to physical irritation.
There are many causes of an itchy throat, but allergies and infections are common reasons. You also may have an itchy throat after spending time around smoke, after talking for a long time, or simply getting dehydrated.
All potential causes of irritation result in the same thing: a throat that feels itchy, dry, and sore. Many causes of an itchy or sore throat resolve on their own in about a week, so treating your throat pain is a matter of reducing your symptoms.
Itchy Throat Remedies and Treatments
The goal of treating an itchy throat is to reduce discomfort, irritation, and painful feelings in the affected area until the condition heals. Remedies for itchy and sore throats focus on decreasing inflammation and irritation of the throat, as well as secondary symptoms like coughing.
Cough Drops, Lozenges, and Hard Candy
Many people use cough drops to help relieve throat itchiness or soreness. However, cough drops containing menthol may make your throat itchier in the long run. One study found that regularly consuming too many mentholated cough drops can make coughing more frequent.
Consider taking sweet hard candies to lengthen the time between cough drop or lozenge doses. This will allow you to benefit from oral menthol use without going overboard. Sweet candies can also help ease and itchy throat because it increases saliva production, which hydrates the affected area. A study also shows that a sweet taste can help suppress coughing.
Hot Tea or Soup
Staying hydrated is important to help your body heal. Getting enough liquids can help keep your mucus membranes clear, preventing uncomfortable buildup in your throat. Warm temperatures can also help soothe the back of the throat for some people. Sipping on a comfortably warm drink is an easy way to stay hydrated and potentially reduce irritation in the throat at the same time.
While hot tea with honey is often used as a cough suppressant and a way to relieve a sore throat, plain honey can be effective, as well. Two teaspoons of honey may be as effective as certain types of cough medicines at relieving throat irritation and coughing. However, honey can occasionally lead to botulism — a type of illness caused by food poisoning — in children under the age of one year, so never give it to babies.
If your itchy throat is a result of dry air or allergies, a humidifier can help. Increasing the humidity in the air keeps your throat from drying out as much when you breathe. It also helps keep mucus from drying and irritating the back of your throat, causing itchiness or coughing. You can also take a hot shower with lots of steam for similar results.
Ice Chips, Popsicles, and Cold Drinks
While warm drinks can help soothe sore throats in some people, others find that cold temperatures work better to numb their throat. Popsicles, ice chips, or very cold drinks can be helpful. These solutions also keep you hydrated while reducing any pain or itchiness that you feel.
Saltwater gargles are most effective for sore or itchy throats caused by bacteria or viruses. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt into 240 milliliters or 1 cup of warm water and gargle using the saltwater mixture several times daily. The heat may ease your throat irritation and the salt may help reduce mucus buildup.
When to See a Doctor
Not every itchy or sore throat will go away on its own. On occasion, your itchy throat may be the first sign of something more serious, such as strep throat.
Look in your mouth with a mirror and a bright light if you have a persistent itchy throat. Should you see white patches or a throat that looks red and swollen, you may have strep throat. Because strep throat is a serious bacterial infection, it will get worse without antibiotics. Talk to your doctor immediately so they can test you for strep throat and give you a prescription for antibiotics, if necessary.