Being your body’s first line of defense, skin is the most vulnerable organ to any kind of change in the outside environment. The most common skin problem that affects more than half of the world’s population is itching. The medical term for itching is Pruritus, referred to an unpleasant feeling which causes urge to scratch.
People suffer from itching mostly in the months of winter because of the dry air and the plunged humidity level. The skin turns dry which leads to itching. Itching associated with any injury or rash can be easily diagnosed and treated. But on the other hand if it is not associated with any injury or rash it becomes difficult to treat. Generally this is of two types, localized which is limited to one area and generalized, which can spread all over. The treatments and remedies for itching depend upon the type and the cause of itching.
Let’s first see what causes Pruritus?
When your skin is dry the barrier between your skin and environment is lost causing your skin to become itchy. In winter months the humidity in the air fall and thus leaving your skin dry. The skin cells dry out and separate. This is why we feel drier during winter months and use thick creams and lotions.
Excessive use of soaps strips natural oils from your skin making it dry and itchy. Extremely harsh soaps often lead to inflammation which may force you to scratch. People with dry skin should avoid using anti-bacterial cleansers because these cleansers contain triclosan. Triclosan is a chemical that irritates skin.
Not only eczema but any skin condition likes sunburn, rash, hives, dandruff allergic reactions, insect stings or mosquito bite can lead to scratching and itching. Eczema is the most dangerous of all causing itching over the entire body. This is a harmful skin condition which is a resultant of increase in histamine in the body causing an itchy skin. Most common spots for this condition are eyelids, back, back of the arms and knees. Eczema results in red and itchy skin.
This is a chronic skin condition which arises because the new skin cells develop more quickly than they are shed from the skin. This leads to piling up of skin cells which creates scaly patches. Elbow, knees and lower back are the main body parts that get affected due to this skin condition. This obviously creates a dry platform on the skin causing an urge to scratch.
Treatments for itchy skin
As already discussed above, the treatments of itching depends upon two factors:
• Type of itching: localized or Generalized
• Cause of itching
Once the cause is identified the treatments for itchy skin includes:
Drugs and medicines
These are of two kinds, oral medicines and corticosteroid creams. For mere infections and itching doctors may recommend such creams and ask you to apply on the affected area. The science behind this is that these creams create moisture and probably some antiseptic agent. The moisture moist the area and removes dryness causing it to heal as soon as it can. Skin care products have some corticosteroid creams that heal itching in a very efficient manner. Oral medications are generally prescribed for allergies like hives, rosacea, and harmful insect stings. At times oral medications are also combined with corticosteroid creams because oral medication causes inflammation to heal and dryness is improved by using creams.
In photo therapy our skin is exposed to various wavelengths of light to reduce the inflammation and itching. This requires the skin to be exposed for various sessions and for prolonged period for better results.
Medications with short term relief
There are certain medications which may not provide long term relief but can heal itching for some period. Anesthetics like, benzocaine and lotions like camphor, calamine and methanol fall under this category.
Skin Itching home treatment
In addition to the above guidelines there are some home treatment suggestions that may help you feel comfortable if you have excessively dry skin:
• Use thick creams or petroleum jelly before sleeping.
• Avoid scratching and cut your nails short.
• Wear lose and comfortable clothing and avoid scratchy fabrics.
• Take oatmeal bath to relive itching.