Do you have eczema and can’t find an effective solution to stop the itchiness? You may have found hundreds of remedies on the internet, but which ones really work?
Chronic itchy skin is not just a physical symptom. Severe itchiness could cause trouble sleeping, interfere with daily activities, and lead to anxiety and depression. For these reasons, it is important to treat skin itchiness from eczema.
Let’s review the best home remedies for itchy skin related to eczema with recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Both children and adults can use these remedies.
Colloidal oatmeal is widely available in many pharmacies and health stores. You can also prepare it at home by adding uncooked oats to a blender and pulse until it becomes a fine powder.
You’ll add the oatmeal to a bath to help relieve dry and itchy skin. Dermatologists recommend adding one cup (a third of a cup for babies) of oatmeal to lukewarm water. Next, soak in it for about 10-15 minutes. When finished bathing, pat or air dry your skin. Then, apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer within three minutes of drying. Be extra careful when you get out of the bath, because the oats make the bath slippery.
Oatmeal bath is considered a very safe therapy for dry, itchy skin. However, do not use it if you have oat allergies.
Why does an oatmeal bath work? According to research studies, oats are packed with nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and other compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. The FDA approved oatmeal baths as a skin protectant, too. Compounds called avenanthramides are particularly effective because they inhibit inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
Oatmeal baths can treat itchy skin caused by more conditions than just eczema. You can benefit from an oatmeal bath if you have:
- Dry skin
- Allergic skin reactions from chemicals
- Chickenpox rashes
- Skin irritation from chemo drugs
While you may see oatmeal as a delicious breakfast, it also offers great relief for itchy skin.
Petroleum Jelly After a Bath
Add a thick layer of petroleum jelly ointment after a bath. Ointments seem to provide more relief from itchiness compared to creams or lotions. It also helps protect and heal the skin while retaining moisture.
Petroleum jelly contains mineral oils and waxes that help relieve skin ailments from:
- Dry skin
- Diaper rash
You’ll probably recognize the name Vaseline. This is the original brand name for petroleum jelly. Medical professionals and caretakers have used this for over 150 years now, so you know it works.
While petroleum jelly has a good safety profile, there are some health concerns. In rare cases, it can cause allergic reactions. Everyone who tries petroleum jelly for the first time should test on a small area of the skin first. Always use this product externally; never inside nasal cavities or for vaginal lubrication. Products based on petroleum jelly may contain carcinogenic compounds, which could cause cancer. To avoid these chemicals, only use Vaseline. It contains 100% petroleum jelly without added substances.
You can make homemade versions of petroleum jelly using beeswax and coconut or olive oil.
Pinch or Tap Your Skin
It may sound odd, but dermatologists recommend gently pinching the skin to decrease itchiness. It is important to pinch the area of the skin without eczema, to avoid irritation. Another option is to gently tap the skin near the itchy spot with eczema. Scientists aren’t sure why these techniques work, but it appears that itch and pain have a close, yin-yang type of relationship. When pain is present, itchiness disappears. This could explain the relief of itchiness when someone experiences pain.
Cool compresses also provide temporary relief to itchy skin and are easy to use. Simply soak a clean towel in cool water, wry until it is damp, and apply the compress to the affected area. Use a moisturizer after removing the compress.
When the skin is cooled, the blood vessels constrict. As the result is the heat, inflammation, and itch will decrease. It’s important to use a cold compress rather than an ice pack because they can irritate sensitive skin. You can use cold compresses a few times daily.
When you remove the compresses, try to cover those areas of the skin that are itchy. When you cover the skin, you’re less likely to scratch it. Wear loose-fitting clothes made from cotton, silk, bamboo, or other natural fibers.
Talk to your doctor if these home remedies don’t relieve your itchy skin. They are not meant to replace any drugs recommended by your doctor but to be used in addition to your treatment. It’s important to seek medical advice before buying over-the-counter antihistamines as well. Although in theory, these anti-itch drugs should work, they actually often worsen the itchiness and cause an eczema flare-up.
Avoid creams and lotions with artificial fragrances and preservatives. Instead, choose hypoallergenic formulas. A healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and high-quality sleep also help.