Itchy skin is a disorder that can also be very annoying, especially if it spreads throughout the body. Let’s see what causes itching and what to do to relieve it.
Itchy skin is an annoying sensation that we have all experienced at least once and that leads to scratching in the affected area. Itching can be localized in a single spot or, more rarely, spread throughout the body.
In the latter case, especially if the itching occurs often, it is important not to neglect the problem and talk to the doctor. The causes that cause this disorder are many. Below we see what they are and how to relieve itching with the most effective natural remedies.
Causes and symptoms of itchy skin
As we mentioned above, itchy irritated skin can affect only small areas, such as the scalp, back or arm, or be spread throughout the body. Itchy skin can occur with no other noticeable symptoms or it can be associated with redness, scratches, blemishes, blisters, dry, cracked skin, or scaly patches. Sometimes itching is a long-lasting nuisance and can also be particularly intense, reaching a point where the more you scratch, the more itching intensifies. In these cases, it would be better to try to interrupt this cycle so as not to make the situation worse. Among the causes that cause itchy skin we have:
- Skin problems: itching can be caused by a skin problem, including dermatitis, psoriasis, folliculitis, the presence of parasites, burns, scars, herpes;
- Advanced age: over the years the skin becomes more dehydrated and dry, favoring the appearance of itchy skin;
- Dry skin: Overly dry skin is a common cause of itchy skin. To avoid this problem it is always good to apply a moisturizer in the parts most exposed to atmospheric agents (hands, face, arms, etc.) or on the whole body, especially after a shower. In this regard, itchy skin after a shower tends to occur especially in winter due to water that is too hot, which dries the skin;
- Urticaria: Urticaria is a skin problem caused, among other things, by the ingestion of foods that promote the release of histamine and cause redness and itching of the skin. In this case the problem can appear suddenly, for example after eating, and disappear in a short time. Itching can occur in small areas or spread over a large area of the body.
- Anxiety and Stress: A build-up of emotional tension can result in an itchy skin condition (or stress itch), often spread throughout the body. In that case it is necessary to find the source of the stress and eliminate it to make the problem go away. To help you relax, drinking some relaxing herbal teas can also be useful;
- Insect bites: Insect bites are among the most common causes of itchy skin. In the case of mosquitoes, for example, the itching can also be intense but disappear in a short time. Other times, however, the itch can be caused by other more insidious insects, such as bed bugs, lice or mites;
- Internal disease: Itching all over the body could be a symptom of an underlying disease, such as liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems, multiple myeloma or lymphoma. If this problem occurs frequently, it is a good idea to consult your doctor;
- Allergic Reactions: Sometimes itching can be caused by an allergic contact reaction. This is the case, for example, of the allergic reaction caused by contact with nickel, one of the most common substances that can cause an allergic skin reaction. Nickel is found in many commonly used products and foods.
- Skin Irritation: Some substances can cause skin irritation and cause itching. This is the case, for example, with some chemicals, irritating plants, soaps and other aggressive substances that can irritate and cause skin rashes and itching;
- Nervous disorders: In some conditions where the nerves are damaged, widespread itching can appear throughout the body. This is the case, for example, of multiple sclerosis, a pinched nerve or the so-called Saint Anthony’s fire (herpes zoster).
Summarizing, therefore, the causes that cause generalized itching all over the body can be mainly: attacks of urticaria, stress, nervous disorders or internal diseases. If the itching is limited, however, it may be a skin irritation, an insect bite, an attack of localized urticaria, excessively dry skin or other skin problems (psoriasis, dermatitis, etc.). In any case, if the problem is frequent and annoying, it is always good to consult your doctor.
Itchy skin: natural remedies
The remedies for itchy skin are not all the same but they depend a lot on the triggering cause. In case of recurrent and widespread itching, it is always good to consult your doctor, who will be able to recommend the most suitable therapy. In general, however, there are several remedies that can help resolve or, at least, find relief from intense itching. Let’s see what they are and when they can be useful.
If the itch is caused by an allergic reaction or by ingesting a food that has triggered a hives attack, it may be helpful to use an antihistamine remedy. For this purpose, one of the strongest antihistamines that nature offers us is black currant. In case of itchy skin caused by hives or dermatitis it is advisable to take blackcurrant bud extract, available in pharmacies or herbalists. Generally 30 drops are recommended twice a day, until improvement, however it is always good to keep as a reference the information on the package or provided by the doctor.
Plantain has a good antihistamine effect and can be useful against itching caused by episodes of hives. As a remedy, we generally recommend 60/80 drops of mother tincture diluted in a little water, to be taken once a day between meals. However, always refer to the methods indicated on the package or those provided by your doctor or pharmacist.
3. Moisturizing creams
Dry skin, as we have seen, can be the cause of itching. In this case it is important to always keep the skin hydrated by regularly applying a moisturizer. It is particularly important to apply it after a shower or on parts exposed to chemical or atmospheric agents.
Calendula is a plant with excellent emollient, calming and healing properties. The extracts of this plant are part of the formulations indicated for skin care as they relieve itching, reduce redness and promote its repair. This remedy can be very useful in case of itching caused by acne, contact irritation, rashes or dry skin.
5. Rice starch
Rice starch is a widely used remedy for itchy skin as it has soothing properties, helps reduce itching and refreshes the skin. It is used dissolved in water in the bath, to the extent of two or three tablespoons. Alternatively, it can be combined with aloe gel to create a cream to apply to the skin and find relief.
6. Aloe vera gel
The aloe gel has an emollient, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing action on the skin. When applied it reduces inflammation and relieves itching. Aloe vera also offers a protective film on the skin, useful for preventing itching caused, for example, by atmospheric agents.
7. Sodium bicarbonate
Similar to rice starch, baking soda also helps soothe the skin. A bath in the tub filled with a few tablespoons of baking soda offers relief from the itchy sensation.
8. Cold compresses
If the itching is intense and you do not have other remedies available, you can find momentary relief by applying a damp cloth or cold pack to the affected area. You will immediately have a feeling of relief from the itch. Likewise, an ice cube applied to itchy skin also helps to find relief.
9. Tea tree oil
If the itching is caused by insect bites, scratches or contact with stinging plants, one of the best natural remedies is definitely tea tree essential oil. Equipped with good anti-inflammatory and mildly analgesic properties, this product is a good help to counteract skin itching. To use it, simply add a few drops (depending on how large the affected surface is) to a vegetable carrier oil, such as almond or St. John’s wort oil, and spread on the part affected by the itching. Within minutes, the itching and redness will subside.
How to prevent itchy skin
The first defense against itchy skin is to prevent its onset and, when possible, eliminate its causes. What we can do is take care of the skin, so we need to protect the skin from the intense sun, wind and weather.
If the itching is due to dryness of the skin, avoid washing it too often and always keep it hydrated. In these cases jojoba oil, avocado oil or shea butter are excellent choices for skin hydration. If the skin is mature, we can also combine pomegranate oil or moisturizing products specifically designed for mature skin.
Finally, as we said above, even stress can lead to widespread and uncontrolled itching, therefore it is a good idea to try to keep anxiety and stress under control, through the use of herbal teas or specific remedies against stress.