For persistent or severe itching, see your health care provider for a diagnosis and treatment instructions.
In the meantime, you can take some steps to help deal with the itch:
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the itchy areas. Keep fingernails short to avoid damaging the skin from scratching. Family members or friends may be able to help by calling attention to your scratching.
- Wear cool, light, loose bedclothes. Avoid wearing rough clothing, particularly wool, over an itchy area.
- Take lukewarm baths using little soap and rinsing thoroughly. Try a skin-soothing oatmeal or cornstarch bath.
- Apply a soothing lotion after bathing to soften and cool the skin.
- Use moisturizer on the skin, particularly in the dry winter months. Dry skin is a common cause of itching.
- Apply cold compresses to an itchy area.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to excessive heat and humidity.
- Take part in activities that distract from the itching during the day and make you tired enough to sleep at night.
- Try over-the-counter oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), but be aware of possible side effects such as drowsiness.
- Try over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on itchy areas.
Call your health care provider if
Call your provider if itching:
Review Date: 07/23/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.