The best treatment for itching depends on the cause. You may be able to relieve itching and reduce the risk of skin damage caused by scratching with some simple self-help measures.
If necessary, your GP or pharmacist can offer treatments that may help relieve an itch.
keep your nails clean, short and smooth
try patting or tapping the itchy area, rather than scratching it
wear cotton gloves at night to prevent damage from scratching in your sleep
hold a cold compress, such as damp flannel, over the affected area to cool it down
avoid spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine, as these can affect the blood flow in your skin and make itching worse
use cool or lukewarm water, rather than hot water
keep baths to less than 20 minutes
try to reduce how often you have a bath or shower if possible
avoid using perfumed soap, shower gel or deodorants; unperfumed substitutes are often available from pharmacists
use unperfumed moisturising lotions and emollients after bathing or showering to help prevent your skin becoming too dry
dab or pat your skin dry, rather than rubbing it
Clothing and fabrics
avoid clothes that irritate your skin, such as wool and some man-made fabrics
wear cotton or silk whenever possible
avoid tight-fitting clothes
use mild laundry detergent that is less likely to irritate your skin
use cool, light, loose bedclothes
Some lotions, creams and etc available over the counter from pharmacies or on a prescription from your GP can help reduce itchiness.
Common treatments recommended include:
an oily moisturiser or emollient if your skin is dry or flaky
creams containing menthol to cool your skin or anti-itch ingredients such as crotamiton
mild steroid cream (usually for only a few days) for small inflamed areas – hydrocortisone cream is available from pharmacies over the counter, or your GP can prescribe a steroid cream for you
AH to help control allergic reactions – check with your pharmacist or GP before using these as they are not suitable for everyone
Some AH tablets can make you feel drowsy. This may be helpful if taken at night to help you sleep, but it’s important not to drive, use power tools or operate heavy machinery after taking them.
If you have itching in hairy areas like your scalp, lotions are available specifically for these areas so you don’t have to use sticky creams.