Itch is a skin condition we all have experienced at some point of our life. It is an urge to scratch the skin in order to get relief. Itch can be simple and go away in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, it turns horrible when it occurs as the symptom of diseases like scabies, psoriasis and eczema.
There are many factors that lead to itch, from allergic reaction, insect bites, skin diseases, dandruff to certain medication. Also known as pruritus, an itch is a self-protective mechanism released by the body to skin sensations like pain, vibration, touch and pain.
Itch can be controlled or treated with a range of treatments including topical medications, pills and local anesthetic. And here we will explain each treatment option for itch.
Antihistamine is one of the common medications for itch occurring in allergic reactions. It works by blocking the release of histamine. Histamine is a compound released by the body in response to injury and allergies. They push those allergens or foreign bodies out of your skin—and this process lead to sneezing or itching. Antihistamines are available as tablets, nasal sprays, eye-drops, liquids and capsules. They are both available as an OTC and prescription drug.
Corticosteroid creams is treatment for itchy and red skin caused by skin conditions like allergies, rash, itching, insect bites, poison oak and anal conditions. Topical corticosteroids are available as creams, lotions, ointments, gels and mousses. From mild, moderate to potent, they come with different strengths. Mild corticosteroids like hydrocortisone can be bought over OTC from pharmacies. However, you need doctor’s prescription for stronger types. Generally, the skin is damped before the application as moisture in the wet helps the skin absorb the cream and also keeps the skin cool.
The function of counterirritant to prevent itch is quite interesting. It prevents itch at one location by creating itch at the superficial tissue. Some examples of counterirritants are menthol, camphor and capsaicin.
According to the FDA, they are “an externally applied substance that causes irritation or mild inflammation of the skin for the purpose of relieving pain in muscles, joints and viscera distal to the site of application.”
Further, the FDA tells the difference between counterirritant and analgesics in this way—“they produce results from stimulation—rather than depression—of the cutaneous sensory receptors and occurs in structures of the body other than the skin areas to which they are applied as for example, in joints, muscles, tendons and certain viscera. The use of these products dates from antiquity.”
Crotamiton is a drug used to treat scabies, a skin infection caused by mites. It eliminates the mites and helps relieve itching caused by scabies and other skin conditions as well. Crotamiton is available in two forms of drugs, scabicides and antipruritics. It is available as a lotion or cream to be applied to the skin only. It is not meant for oral use.
Some herbs like aloe vera, pepper leaves and basil leaves are found to have anti-itching properties. Homeopathic creams like Dr. Scabies contains botanical extracts and sulfur to treat scabies, itch and rashes.
Also known as numbing cream, local anesthetic dulls the skin by blocking the pain signals traveling to the brain. This way, a person doesn’t feel anything happening to his skin. They keep the skin desensitized for an hour or two depending on the strength of the cream. The cream shouldn’t be used on the broken skin.
So these are some treatment options for itch. While experiencing itch is totally normal, make sure to visit your doctor if it turns worse.