From time to time, we are caught in the grip of this tingling, irritating, scratchy feeling on the skin, which can be caused due to a multitude of internal as well as external problems.
Itching is a widely prevalent dermatological condition that can emerge at any unearthly hour and cause intense physical and mental trauma to the sufferer. Persistent and severe itching can spell inherent conditions that need to be dealt with, to eliminate the root cause.
Diverse reasons can be attributed to manifestations of itching on the skin. The most common among them would be allergic reactions, kidney disorders, drug allergies, liver diseases, skin dryness, iron deficiency, hepatitis, pregnancy, multiple sclerosis, skin infections etc. Itching that is persistent and chronic has to be reported to a health care provider and further tests conducted for diagnosis.
The primary symptom is itching is irritation and tingling of the skin which makes you want to scratch. Based on the type of infection or condition that you are suffering from, the intensity of itching can vary from mild to moderate, to severe itching that can drive you nuts. The skin can turn rough, patchy, red, and scaly due to the scratching and can even ooze and bleed. Severe cases of infection is accompanied by chills, fever and other symptoms.
Several factors can lead to itching. Therefore, it is very important to identify the root cause before analyzing the treatment options. Itching caused by bacterial, viral and fungal infections are the most common forms. Allergic reactions can also cause itching and skin rashes. Certain types of itching are associated with nerve disorders associated with MS, diabetes etc.
Metabolic and endocrine changes in the body like kidney disease, liver problems, hypothyroidism too can be the cause of generalized and unexplained itching. Other types of itching include those triggered by drug reactions, blood diseases, insect bites etc. Psychological disorders like anxiety, stress etc., and sun exposure too can lead to itching and in some cases worsen the itching caused by other factors
Home Remedies for Itching
Most cases of itching are non-serious and hence can be easily treated at the confines of your home. However, if the symptoms persist or becomes worse, it is imperative that you consult a specialist to rule out other complications.
One of the best remedies for itching of all types, baking soda contains pH-balancing agents that help in restoring the natural oil balance of the skin. For localized itching, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply on the skin. Allow it to dry and wash off with water. Apply a light moisturizing cream as baking soda can cause the skin to become dry and scaly.
For generalized itching, fill a tub with warm water and mix one cup of baking soda in it. Soak for an hour every day to encourage healing and removal of microbes that cause itching.
This citrus fruit is rich in healing and repairing agents that can stifle any form of itch within minutes. Lemon contains anti oxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage, and its anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties too aid in the suppression of itching caused by a medley of problems. Lemon is also an exfoliant and helps in the removal of dead skin cells that too cause intense itching.
For mild itching, apply freshly squeezed lemon juice on the affected skin and leave for 20 minutes. For severe cases, take the rind of lemon and rub the interior soft, white layer on the skin. Leave for 20 minutes before washing off. Lemon rind has much more vitamin C and antioxidant content than the juice itself. Make sure that you avoid direct sunlight for a few hours, after application of lemon, as the skin turns photosensitive.
With powerful antioxidants lined up for treating a host of disorders and its analgesic effects on the body due to its eugenol content, basil tea is also a superior remedy for treating itching and the underlying infection itself. Prepare basil tea by adding freshly crushed basil leaves to one cup of boiling water.
Steep for fifteen minutes and wash the area several times a day once the water turns warm. For smaller areas of skin, crush basil leaves and apply the juice on the irritated skin. Wash off and add fresh coats of the paste all throughout the day to top up the effect.
Rich in vitamin E which is an antioxidant and skin tonic of sorts, oatmeal is also a time tested remedy for itching skin. Its oil content moisturizes dry skin and the vitamin E heals and repairs, as it removes the itchy and tingly sensation.
For small areas, apply a paste of oatmeal and water directly on the skin and leave it on for a few hours. To cover bigger areas, grind oatmeal to powder form and add two cups to a tub of warm water. Soak for an hour for experiencing great relief.
This cooling and refreshing gel can be acquired straight from the aloe stalk if you have it in your backyard. Aloe has skin regenerating and repairing properties and its natural moisturizing agents remove tired and lifeless skin back to its glory. Apply aloe gel on the areas that itch and leave it on to air-dry on the skin.
Apply as often as needed to remove bacterial infections and also to suppress the urge to scratch.
Diet and Lifestyle
As stress is a major contributor to many skin irritations, controlling stress is of utmost importance to preserve your health, immunity, and the skin. Keeping your skin well moisturized helps in avoiding itching due to dryness. Personal hygiene too contributes to the reduction of bacterial and fungal infections of the skin.
Itching related to sun exposure can be controlled through the use of sunscreen lotions with good SPF, and protective clothing and accessories like sunglasses, wide brimmed hats etc. Drinking plenty of water is very important for skin, digestive and excretory health and many skin irritations can be avoided thus. The benefit of exercise too stands out along with water intake due to its ability to improve blood circulation and expel toxins from the body.
Use of cool and comfortable cotton clothes is recommended for chronic itching. It is also important to avoid scratching as far as possible to prevent secondary infections. Mild detergents, soaps and perfumes must be chosen to prevent possible allergic reactions.
Other Treatment Options
Based on the diagnosis, several other treatment options are available like antibiotics, topical skin creams with hydrocortisone, anti histamines, phototherapy etc. to mention a few.