Itchy skin, also known as pruritus, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Some home remedies may help remedy itchy skin, including applying essential oils, wet wraps, and colloidal oatmeal.

Many people who frequently experience itchy skin may experience issues such as difficulty sleeping or anxiety. They may also scratch their skin, causing small tears, which are prone to infection.

Common causes of itchy skin include insect bites, allergies, stress, and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

This article outlines some of the best natural and home remedies for itching.

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Menthol is an essential oil found in plants of the mint family. It has a cooling effect and can help relieve pain and itching.

Some research has found that peppermint oil may help relieve itchy skin, with a study done on 50 people split into two groups, one applying the oil topically and the other applying petrolatum instead. After two weeks, results found that peppermint oil was effective in improving itchy skin in comparison to petrolatum.

Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.

Learn more about the benefits of peppermint oil.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests that a good way to relieve itchy skin is to apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the affected area for 5–10 minutes.

Cooling helps reduce inflammation that may be contributing to the itch.

Another option is to keep moisturizing creams and lotions in the refrigerator. This will ensure they have a direct cooling effect when a person applies them to the skin.

Wet wrap therapy (WWT) involves applying water-soaked fabric wraps made of gauze or surgical netting to areas of itchy skin.

These wraps rehydrate and soothe skin while providing a physical barrier that protects against scratching. This treatment can be especially beneficial for children.

WWT may also help the skin to absorb medications, such as topical steroids. Before applying the wraps, gently rub or pat medications on the area, and follow with a generous layer of moisturizer.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) suggests the following steps for applying wet wraps:

  1. Moisten a section of gauze in warm water until it becomes damp.
  2. Wrap the gauze around the itchy area of the skin.
  3. Wrap a dry piece of gauze over the top of the damp one.
  4. Carefully put on soft, cotton pajamas, taking care not to disturb the bandages.
  5. Leave the bandages on for several hours or overnight.

A person can use WWT for a few days to control an intense flare-up of itching. If itching does not subside, it is best to talk with a doctor or dermatologist about extending the therapy or trying an alternative treatment.

Colloidal oatmeal is finely ground oatmeal that a person can dissolve in water. The resulting solution forms a protective barrier on the surface of the skin, which helps to seal in moisture. Colloidal oatmeal can help to relieve dryness and itching.

Colloidal oatmeal also has known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which can help to reduce skin irritation.

Colloidal oatmeal is widely available in creams and lotions. Alternatively, a person can add the finely ground powder directly to bath water.

Learn more about the benefits of oatmeal for skin.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), apple cider vinegar may be particularly helpful in relieving an itchy scalp.

The NPF recommends diluting the vinegar in water using a 1-to-1 ratio. Apply the solution to the scalp and let it dry before rinsing it gently with lukewarm water.

Vinegar can cause a burning sensation on open wounds. People with cracked and bleeding skin should avoid this treatment.

Learn more about apple cider vinegar for eczema.

Moisturizers, such as creams and lotions, can help hydrate the outermost layer of the skin. They are essential for managing skin conditions that cause itching and dryness.

A good moisturizer will contain humectants and emollients. Humectants draw water into the skin, while emollients form a protective film over the skin’s surface, which helps lock in moisture.

It is best to apply moisturizers soon after a bath or shower while the skin is still a little damp.

The NEA provides the following tips on developing a good moisturizing routine:

  • use a moisturizer with high oil content
  • moisturize hands whenever they come into contact with water
  • moisturize before going to bed to help the skin stay hydrated through the night

Baking soda has antifungal properties, and research suggests it is an effective treatment for a range of fungal skin conditions, many of which can cause itching.

The NEA recommends adding one-quarter of a cup of baking soda to a warm bath. An alternative option is to mix the baking soda with a little water to form a paste, which a person can apply directly to itchy areas.

Learn more about baking soda for skin.

According to the AAD, people should avoid possible irritants, as they may make itchiness worse. Possible irritants include:

Hot water

Bathing and showering in hot water remove moisture from the skin, making it more prone to dryness, redness, and itching. Reducing the water temperature even by a few degrees can help.

Temperature and humidity changes

Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can dry out the skin, causing flaking and itching.

A humidifier can help to maintain indoor humidity in the dry summer months. It can also help to counteract the drying effects of central heating during winter.

Fragranced skin care products

Some skin care products contain additives, such as perfumes and artificial colors, which can cause or worsen skin irritation.

People with itchy or sensitive skin should use fragrance-free and dye-free skin care products.

Wool and synthetic fibers

Clothing made from wool or synthetic fibers can feel rough against the skin, causing itchiness and irritation. Some people are more sensitive than others.

People with itchy skin can choose to wear loose-fitting cotton clothing whenever possible. Cotton allows the skin to breathe and prevents overheating.


Studies show that psychological stress can trigger itching. People who experience increased itchiness in times of stress may benefit from trying specific stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga and mindfulness meditation.

People can treat many cases of itching at home with an effective cleansing and moisturizing routine.

However, a person should see a doctor if they experience the following symptoms:

  • itching that persists for more than 2 weeks or flares up on a regular basis
  • itching accompanied by an unusual rash, bumps, or swelling
  • signs of an infection, such as inflammation or weeping sores
  • itching that affects the entire body

The above symptoms could indicate an underlying health issue that requires medical attention.

A doctor may also be able to recommend topical creams and medicines to relieve a person’s itching.

The AAD lists the following ways to prevent itchy skin from occurring in the first place, including:

  • regularly moisturizing
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • avoid skin irritants such as perfumed soaps or detergents
  • reducing stress

Here are some frequently asked questions about relieving itching.

What stops itching immediately?

Applying essential oils such as peppermint oils, wet wraps, colloidal oatmeal, and moisturizer may help soothe itching immediately.

What is the strongest anti-itch medication?

Anti-itch medication includes corticosteroid creams such as beclometasone.

Itchy skin can result from various causes, such as allergies, stress, or skin conditions. There are many ways to relieve itchy skin, including home remedies such as essential oils, wet wraps, and colloidal oatmeal.