12 Effective Home Remedies for Itchy Skin

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
June 17, 2022

Itchy skin can happen for a variety of reasons. It can be a symptom of an allergic reaction, an insect bite, a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, a reaction to irritating chemicals in cosmetics and other products, or a reflection of hormonal changes during pregnancy. 

Some people may experience pain with their itchy skin while others may develop a rash or hives.

In most cases, itchy skin is not serious and can be managed at home.

In this article, I’ll share 12 effective home remedies that can help to relieve your itchy skin, as well as when to see a healthcare provider.

Avoid Itch Triggers

If you know what might trigger your itchy skin (which may include factors like dry air, extreme temperatures, eating certain foods, or bug bites), doing your best to avoid or counteract those triggers can help you to prevent itchy skin from developing. 

For example, if you know your eczema gets triggered by the cooler temperatures and the drying effects of indoor heating that you may be subject to in winter, using a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor air and keeping your skin moisturized with a gentle moisturizer can help you to avoid the discomfort of itchy skin during that time of year.

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Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which has been shown to kill bacteria that leads to the development of inflammatory acne, but only in lab tests, not in human studies.

Additional research suggests that virgin coconut oil may help relieve itchy skin in people with mild eczema (also called atopic dermatitis). 

However, some people may be allergic to coconut oil or may find it irritating.

If you’re unsure about whether to use coconut oil for your itchy skin, reach out to your provider for guidance, and always try a patch test on a small area of skin before applying to your entire body. 

Take Oatmeal Baths

Adding colloidal oatmeal to your bath with lukewarm water can help to relieve dry, itchy skin. 

Moisturize Throughout the Day

Moisturizing consistently throughout the day can help to prevent your skin from drying out, which will also help your skin from feeling itchy.

If your skin is sensitive, be sure to use a moisturizer designed for sensitive skin (for example, a moisturizer without added fragrance).

Moisturizing after a shower or bath is also important, as your pores are more open and more receptive to moisturizer at this time.

Switch to Gentle Cleansers

Switching to gentle cleansers, laundry detergents, and fabric softeners may also help to alleviate and prevent itchy and uncomfortable skin.

When it comes to soap and lotions, choose products that are water-based and fragrance free. Fragrance free detergents that are designed for sensitive skin may also help.

Apply a Honey-based cream

There are very limited studies that suggest honey may be useful in reducing bacteria on the skin and soothing itchy skin conditions.

Regular honey is too sticky to be applied to large areas of the body, but there are creams that contain honey that can be tried.

However, you should be aware that more research is needed to prove the benefits of honey for skin conditions that cause itching.

Use a Humidifier

If the itching is caused or triggered by dry air, using a humidifier can help to add moisture back into your environment.

Using a humidifier can be especially helpful in the winter months when indoor heating can dry out your skin. 

Apply Cold Compresses

Applying a cold compress, washcloth, or ice pack to your skin can help to relieve your inflammation and reduce itchiness. 

Follow a Healthy Skincare Routine

If you have dry, sensitive, and itchy skin, following a healthy skincare routine can help to keep your itchy symptoms at bay.

In practice, this includes keeping your skin moisturized with a gentle and fragrance free moisturizer (especially after a bath or shower) and avoiding irritating fabrics and/or products. 

Take OTC Antihistamines

Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin), or cetirizine (Zyrtec) can help to relieve itchy skin associated with eczema.

Long-acting antihistamines like loratadine and cetirizine are non-sedating and can be used daily. 

Wear Breathable Clothing

Wearing breathable clothing, as garments made of natural fabrics like cotton can help to keep your skin from getting overheated or sweaty.

Choosing breathable fabrics for the gym and during the warmer months may especially help to prevent itchy or uncomfortable skin.

Avoid Scratching

Avoiding scratching when you have itchy skin may not always be possible, but constant scratching can break the skin which can lead to bleeding and infection.

When possible, avoiding scratching will help to prevent itchy skin from getting worse.

But when scratching isn’t 100% avoidable, keeping your nails short and wearing fabric over the itchier patches of skin can help you avoid causing further damage to your skin. 

Have itchy skin? Chat with a medical provider using K Health.

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When To See a Healthcare Professional

In most cases, itchy skin is not serious and can be managed at home.

But if your itching is severe, doesn’t go away after three weeks, or doesn’t have an apparent or identifiable cause, reach out to your provider for help. 

Additional symptoms that warrant more immediate medical attention are:

  • Itchy or uncomfortable skin that makes it difficult to sleep
  • Severe skin pain
  • Changes in skin appearance

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best natural remedy for itchy skin?
The best natural remedy for your itchy skin will depend on your symptoms and their underlying cause. Some popular natural remedies for itchy skin include taking lukewarm baths with colloidal oatmeal, avoiding itch triggers, moisturizing throughout the day with a gentle and fragrance free moisturizer, and using a humidifier. OTC antihistamines can also be helpful.
What home remedy can I use to stop itching at night?
Moisturizing your skin with a gentle and fragrance free moisturizer before bedtime can help to alleviate itchy skin at night. Using a humidifier in your bedroom may also help to alleviate your dry skin and reduce itchiness while you’re sleeping.
What causes itchy skin?
There are many possible causes of itchy skin, including allergic reactions to food, insect bites, and pollen, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, irritating chemicals found in cosmetics and soaps, and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
How can I prevent my skin from getting itchy?
Avoiding your itch triggers can help you to prevent your skin from getting itchy. Moisturizing your skin throughout the day, following a healthy skincare routine, and wearing breathable clothing will also help to prevent itchy skin from developing.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.