Itchy skin is caused by anything from allergies, plant rashes, insect stings, eczema or overexposure to dry air. Itchy skin can be controlled and improved with natural options that provide relief. Kitchen remedies, vitamins and herbal formulations all supplement regular moisturizing routines for relieving itchy skin and preventing complications like infections.
B-complex vitamins, which include B6 and B12, are essential to the body's ability to generate new tissue and cells, heal wounds and conduct nerve sensations. Low levels that cause disease are uncommon, because most B vitamins are provided through the diet. However, low levels may be associated with anemia or psoriasis, for example, and one sign of low vitamin B levels is itchy or flaky skin. Vitamin B supplements to take by mouth are available in pharmacies. Although doses vary according to the type of vitamin B used, suggested doses of over-the-counter products are well below the mega-dose levels that can lead to toxicities, such as fingertip nerve changes that occur with vitamin B6 doses greater than 500 mg/day, suggests the Merck Manual.
Cornstarch and Baking Soda
Two kitchen remedies for itchy skin work similarly to reduce rash and soothe the skin. Baking soda is frequently used to reduce itchy associated with insect stings or bites, because its nonacidic nature counteracts the irritation from the sting. Similarly, baking soda reduces irritation of red, chapped skin, especially from allergic causes, and coats the skin to smooth the area and prevent additional irritation. Cornstarch also coats and smooths itchy skin, much as it does for infant diaper rash areas. In addition, cornstarch dries skin that is itchy because of excessive sweat, and it absorbs the extra moisture. Baking soda or cornstarch mixed with water will form a paste that can form protective barriers over irritated and itchy skin. However, consult a health professional if the skin may be infected, because continued use of cornstarch on yeast-infected skin may worsen the infection, according to the FamilyDoctor website.
Witch hazel is a bush-like plant, and liquid extracts of dried plant leaves have been used medicinally for nearly 30 types of treatment by 18th-century native Americans. The tannins in witch hazel leaves and bark reduce bleeding and provide astringent, or drying, properties. The drying nature of witch hazel relies on protein tightening in the skin of applied areas; when the proteins tighten, irritated skin swelling is lessened, itch and eczema are reduced and a protective layer is formed to fend off infections. Witch hazel extracts are applied to damaged or itchy skin as surface poultices, rather than ingested by mouth.
- Merck.com: Vitamin B6: Vitamin Deficiency
- SkinVerse.com: Baking Soda Soothes Itchy Irritated Skin
- FamilyDoctor.org: Diaper Rash
- MedCareHealth.com: Vitamins That Keep the Skin Healthy
- A. DerMarderosian, editor: Witch Hazel, in Guide to Popular Natural Products, Facts and Comparisons, 2001