Skin

01 February 2017

Don't scratch that itch!

Do you have an itch? Dry homes, chemical cleansers and contagious infections can cause skin discomfort. Here are some tips for relief:

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Itchy skin is a common problem, but there are several ways to find relief, a dermatologist says.

Read: What’s making your skin itch?

"There are many reasons for itchy skin," Dr Hassan Galadari said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release. "It could be the result of a skin condition, such as eczema, shingles, hives or psoriasis, or it could be a sign of a contagious disease, like scabies or ringworm."

Handy Tips

To relieve itchy skin, Galadari offers these tips:

  • Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the itchy area for five to 10 minutes or until the itch subsides. Or take an oatmeal bath.
  • Use skin moisturizers that contain no additives, fragrances or perfumes.
  • Apply topical anaesthetics that contain pramoxine.
  • Apply cooling agents such as menthol or calamine, or refrigerate your moisturizer to help achieve this cooling effect.
  • Avoid scratching. It will irritate your skin and could lead to infection.

Read: Lice poop can make your head itch

To prevent itching, bathe in lukewarm, not hot, water; limit baths or showers to 10 minutes; use fragrance-free lotions, soaps and detergents; wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes; keep your home relatively cool with neutral humidity; and use a humidifier in winter if you are prone to dry skin and eczema.

"If your itch does not go away with home treatment, see a board-certified dermatologist. Some people have more than one reason to scratch, and a dermatologist can work with you to find the cause and relieve your itching," said Galadari, who practices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Read More:

Do you think you have lice when there's nothing there?

The science behind why we itch

Take the itch out of insect bites and stings

 

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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