• Living with itch can be torture. It’s probably the most common skin complaint. Everybody tends to scratch. Unfortunately, this can aggravate both the itch and the condition that caused it. There’s even a name for this: The itch-scratch cycle. The more our skin itches, the more we scratch it, and the more we scratch, the more we inflame the area that itches. The itchy area may redden and show dry, cracked or chapped skin; spots, bumps or blisters. If this continues it can result in infected, oozing, and painful lesions that require the attention of a doctor, preferably a dermatologist.

    Causes:

    Dry skin seems to be the most common cause. Prickly heat, fungus, insect bites, allergic reactions and medication side effects are also on the list. Itch can be brought on by depression or anxiety – the body reacts to the turmoil. Diabetes causes a tendency to itch. Poor hygiene can also cause it. People who are senile may ignore problems related to the skin. They may not wash, rinse or dry themselves properly, causing a rash ultimately results in an infection.

    Prevent itch:

    Eat well, practice good hygiene, and exercise regularly. Don’t over-bathe in the winter; keep cool and dry in summer. Take cooler baths or showers and use mild soaps without dyes or perfumes. Inexpensive skin moisturizers such as Lubriderm or Eucerin can work wonders, sealing in moisture after a bath or shower.

    Relieve the Itch:

    An over-the-counter anti-itch hydrocortisone cream can temporarily relieve the itch. When the itch is severe a non-prescription oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl is one) may be helpful.

    The baking soda in your cupboard can help relieve many an itch. For an all-over itch, add one cup of baking soda to a tub of warm water and enjoy a long soak. Gently use your towel to dry yourself or air dry. Try making a baking soda paste to apply to a localized itch as long as the skin is not broken. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water and apply, wait, rinse and dry. If you don’t have baking soda but do have cornstarch or instant oatmeal, sprinkle a handful of either into a filled bathtub before soaking for soothing relief.

    At the start of an itch, avoid clothing that can irritate your skin such as woolen socks or tops; select cotton as the fabric for contact with your skin. Use mild unscented laundry detergents to wash your clothing, towels and bedding.

    Be sure to see your doctor or dermatologist if the itching lasts more than two weeks despite your use of home remedies or if other symptoms such as fever, weight loss or extreme tiredness are present. Itchy skin may be a symptom of an underlying internal disease, drug or allergic reaction that requires a medical professional.

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