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Remedies for Skin Itching from Bile

author image Stephanie Crumley Hill
Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.
Remedies for Skin Itching from Bile
Some anti-itch lotions contain oatmeal.

Bile is produced by your liver. If bile is prevented from flowing along its normal path, bile products may find their way into the skin, resulting in itching, according to Temple University School of Medicine. The best remedy for skin itching from bile is to determine why bile is accumulating in the skin and address the underlying cause. Some causes, such as cholestasis of pregnancy, may have a fairly simple resolution, while others, such as cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, may require a more complex course of treatment.

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Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant for your itching. Antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, for example) and paroxetine (Paxil, for example) have an antihistamine effect, according to CancerHelp UK. These medications may also help you be more relaxed.


Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and by prescription. You can take oral antihistamines or apply antihistamines topically to your skin. If your itching is caused by lymphoma or a blocked bile duct, antihistamines may not prove effective, according to CancerHelp UK.


If appropriate, your doctor may prescribe cholestyramine (Questran, for example). This medication reduces itching by binding with bile salts. According to CancerHelp UK, this medication is often prescribed for patients with jaundice. Other medications may also be prescribed to address itching or its underlying causes, according to Temple University School of Medicine.


You may find relief by applying ice or a cold pack to the area that is itching, according to CancerHelp UK. You may also find it helpful to keep your environment cool as well and avoid becoming overheated.

Creams and Lotions

If your itching is minor, over-the-counter creams or lotions applied topically may provide relief. These products may include ingredients such as oatmeal, which are known to be calming and soothing to the skin. A cooling lotion containing peppermint or menthol may also be helpful.


You can purchase over-the-counter steroid creams that may help reduce itching. Stronger creams are available by prescription, or your doctor may recommend an oral steroid. Steroids are usually prescribed only for a short period of time because of their potential side effects, according to CancerHelp UK. Topical corticosteroid creams may be prescribed for cholestasis of pregnancy according to the University of Virginia Health System.

General Care

You can help minimize itching by caring for your skin properly. Avoid using soap, which can be harsh and drying, and choose a non-soap cleanser instead. Avoid hot water in the bath, which can dry skin; choose lukewarm water instead. Treat your skin gently by patting it dry instead of rubbing, and avoiding clothing with rough seams and fibers. Talk with your doctor about caring for your liver and before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements.

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