Itching is the body's response to an irritating stimuli in or on the body. There are many causes for itching, ranging from rashes and other skin disorders to internal diseases. Regardless of the cause, itching can become annoying, and in some cases may cause damage to the skin if itching leads to consistent scratching. When extreme itching occurs, there are several remedies available to provide relief.
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A wet compress is the most accessible way to relieve an extreme itch. When applied to the affected skin tissue, a wet compress helps alleviate the need to itch, as well as helps protect the skin against scratching.
OTC Cream or Lotion
Over-the-counter creams or lotions are also an accessible way to help relieve itching. Over-the-counter products often include active ingredients such as non-prescription hydrocortisone cream, which works by reducing inflammation and suppressing chemicals that create the urge to itch. Topical antihistamine creams, such as those containing diphenhydramine, may also help relieve itching.
Oral antihistamines may also be effective at reducing the itching sensation. Antihistamines can be used for itching that is a result of an allergic reaction. Antihistamines work by competing with receptor sites that histamine needs to connect with to create the signs of an allergic reaction. By blocking the reaction, itching is reduced. Antihistamines, such as hydroxyzine and diphenhydramine may cause drowsiness. For use during the day, loratadine and cetirizine can be used without causing drowsiness.
For severe cases of itching, prescription corticosteroid creams may be used in cases where itching is accompanied by inflammation, such as with poison ivy or oak or chicken pox. Corticosteroid work by blocking a substance known as prostaglandins, which contribute to inflammation and itching on the body. In cases where large areas of the body are affected by itching, oral corticosteroids may be used to treat the entire body at the same time.