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02/23/2011 11:49 PM

10 Home Remedies for ITCHING !!

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10 Home Remedies for Itching

by the Editors of the Consumer Guide


Frequent Contributor (1K+ posts)

Member # 9982

posted 03-29-2008 04:22 PM


i'm so sorry to hear what's going on with your daughter.

I clipped what is below for home remedies to try for itching.

I've tried the oatmeal baths for my son's itching before- and they worked fairly well(the relief lasted mostly for the time he was in the tub),though his itching was not as severe as your daughter's.

And i've tried baking soda on my own poison ivy rashes- you have to keep putting it on, but it definitely helps.

Keep us tuned (and take care of you too).


10 Home Remedies for Itching

by the Editors of the Consumer Guide

10 Home Remedy Treatments for Itching

Itching, medically known as pruritus, is caused by stimuli bugging some part of our skin. There are a lot of places to bother on the body, too.

The average adult has 20 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, all open to the world of irritants. When something bothers our skin, an itch is a built-in defense mechanism that alerts the body that someone is knocking.

We respond to an itch with a scratch, as most people want to remove the problem.

But the scratching can also set you up for the "itch-scratch" cycle, where one leads to the other endlessly.

An itch can range from a mild nuisance to a disrupting, damaging, and sleep-depriving fiasco.

Itches happen for many reasons, including

allergic reactions; sunburns; insect bites; poison ivy; reactions to chemicals, soaps, and detergents; medication; dry weather; skin infections; and even aging.

More serious itches, such as those caused by psoriasis or other diseases, are not covered here.

Scratching isn't the only solution to an itch. The kitchen cupboards hold a few more.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Baking soda.

Baking soda battles itches of all kinds.

For widespread or hard-to-reach itches, soak in a baking soda bath. Add 1 cup baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes and air dry.

Localized itches can be treated with a baking soda paste. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Apply to the itch, but do not use if the skin is broken.


Add 1 to 2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath (not hot or you might have breakfast for the next month in your tub) to ease your itches. Laughing

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator


Many American folk remedy recipes call for using a lemon to treat itchy skin -- and rightly so.

The aromatic substances in a lemon contain anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce itching.

If nothing else, you'll smell good. Squeeze undiluted lemon juice on itchy skin and allow to dry.

Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Cloves and Juniper Berries.

The American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Cherokee tribes knew how to stop an itch in its tracks. They used what nature provided, namely juniper berries.

(No need to run out in the wilderness to gather berries. They are available in some grocery stores.)

These berries contain anti-inflammatory, volatile substances. When combined with cloves, which contain eugenol to numb nerve endings, the result is no more itch.

To make a salve of both spices, melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a saucepan.

In a separate pan, melt a lump of beeswax -- about the amount of 2 tablespoons.

When the beeswax has melted, combine with butter and stir well.

Add 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries and 3 teaspoons ground cloves to the mixture and stir.

Allow to cool and apply to itchy skin.

Note: It is best to grind the spices at home because the volatile substances are preserved better in whole berries and cloves.


Splash your skin with refreshing basil tea. Like cloves, basil contains high amounts of eugenol, a topical anesthetic.

Place 1/2 ounce dried basil leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Keep it covered to prevent the escape of the aromatic eugenol from the tea. Allow to cool.

Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to itchy skin as often as necessary.


If you're saving that basil for spaghetti sauce, try a mint tea rinse instead.

Chinese folk medicine values mint as a treatment for itchy skin and hives. Mint contains significant amounts of menthol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically.

In general, mint also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid, which is readily absorbed into the skin.

To make a mint tea rinse, place 1 ounce dried mint leaves in 1 pint boiling water.

Cover and allow to cool. Strain, dip a clean cloth in the tea, and apply to the itchy area when necessary.


If you're saving that mint for a glass of lemonade, there is one more spice on the rack that makes a good anti-itch rinse: thyme.

This fragrant herb contains large amounts of the volatile constituent thymol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties.

In other words, it numbs that darn itch while reducing inflammation caused by all your scratching.

To make a thyme rinse, place 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water.

Cover and allow to cool. Strain and dip a clean cloth into the tea, then apply to affected areas.

Note: In Chinese folk medicine, dandelion root, easily plucked from most yards, is added to this rinse.

If in season, place 1 ounce dried dandelion root and 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves into 1 quart boiling water and proceed as directed.

Home Remedies from the Window sill

Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a must for burns, but how about itches? The same constituents that reduce blistering and inflammation in burns also work to reduce itching.

Snap off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and rub the gel only on the itch.

More Do's and Don'ts

* Try not to scratch!

* Wear gloves, if need be, to keep yourself from opening your skin by scratching with your nails.


Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.


David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at PennsylvaniaState University's College of Medicine.

He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine.

Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.; f=1;t=064877#000009

Post edited by: Bettyg, at: 06/20/2013 12:27 AM


06/24/2011 02:22 AM
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Chronic Itching as Debilitating as Chronic Pain

By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today

Published: June 20, 2011

Reviewed by

Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston and

Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

Action Points

■Explain that a study found chronic pruritis affected patient quality of life in a similar fashion to chronic pain, with unmarried status and symptom severity significant predictors of reduced quality of life for both itching and pain.

■Note that the study was based on patient self-report.

Everyone talks about chronic pain, but no one talks about chronic itching.

And yet, researchers reported, chronic pruritus may have a similar effect on quality of life as chronic pain.

In a convenience sample of patients with chronic pain or pruritus, those with itching were willing to forfeit 13% of their lifespan in order to live without the condition, according to Suephy Chen, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues.

In contrast, those with chronic pain were willing for forfeit 27% of their lifespan to live in perfect health, Chen and colleagues reported online in Archives of Dermatology.

The difference was significant, they said, but may have arisen because more of the pain patients in the sample characterized their condition as severe.

The finding suggests that "chronic pruritus carries a considerable burden of disease," Chen and colleagues argued, with an impact on quality of life "comparable to that of chronic pain."

Chronic pruritus -- as opposed to acute pruritus -- is difficult to treat and can be debilitating, with symptoms of depression, global distress, and impairment of sleep, the researchers noted.

As well, there is some evidence to suggest it's relatively common; a large French study suggested it affects up to 30% of that country's population, they noted.

To investigate quality of life issues, the researchers enrolled 138 pain patients and 73 pruritus patients from three Emory University clinics in Atlanta and calculated health utility scores, which represent subjective satisfaction with a given health state.

In essence, the utility score represents how much of their life expectancy participants would give up to live without the pain or pruritus, the researchers noted.

Values range from zero to one, with a higher score indicating greater satisfaction. The difference between the score and one is the percentage of lifespan a person would give up to be free of the given condition.

The two groups were similar in age, sex, and duration of the condition, Chen and colleagues reported. As well, about half the participants in each group said their condition was moderate.

However, Chen and colleagues found, 36% of the pain group and 28% of the pruritus group characterized their symptoms as severe, a difference that was significant at P<0.001.

Analysis showed the average utility score among pruritus patients was 0.87, compared with 0.77 among pain patients, a difference that was significant at P<0.01, they reported.

In a multivariate analysis, being unmarried and having severe symptoms were significant predictors of the utility score, while neither the actual condition -- pain or itching -- nor duration of symptoms were significant.

The researchers cautioned that the study -- aside from the utility score interviews -- was based on surveys and so is subject to response, recall, and selection biases.

They added that the patients were recruited at a tertiary care center and might have had more severe disease and been more highly motivated than other patients.

As well, they did not take into account other comorbidities.

The researchers did not report external support for the study, nor did they report any conflicts.

Primary source: Archives of Dermatology

Source reference:

Kini SP, et al "The impact of pruritus on quality of life: The skin equivalent of pain" Arch Dermatol 2011; DOI: 10.1001/archdermatol.2011.178. 27160?utm_content=&utm_medium=email& utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=


Bruce Bennett blog dot com - Jun 20, 2011

After suffering from dermatitis of the hands and legs for 44 years I found a absolute cure of my condition.

First it (my dermatitis) was always better in the summer and when I went on vacation in the Caribbean area during the winter.

I thought, gee maybe the moisture but it did not make sense because it would flare up in September and the heating systems were not on yet ( I live in northern NY State).

Started to read about vitamin D (really a pro hormone) and started taking it seven years ago.

1,000 iu a day did nothing that I could tell. I did that for a year, then started 2,000 iu a day.

The dermatitis went away but it would itch just a little: no cracking of the skin. I used to crack and bleed during the winter. That stopped.

After a few months went to 3,ooo iu a day. Itching stopped and never came back!

Also when I increased it to 10,000 iu a day 98% of my arthritis pain went away.

Blood levels have never exceeded 93ng/ml. I call that a cure.....

tom hennessy - Jun 21, 2011

Itching is very common in erythrocytosis. "In polycythemia vera, generalized pruritus is often a problematic symptom for patients"


PAG - Jun 23, 2011

Reply to Bruce blog:

I think your finding based on empirical evidence is exciting.

I have been using Vitamin D for arthritis - cervical spine issues and found it relieved the inflammation like no other med I tried.

Vitamin D is an effective sleep aid - especially when night pain makes it impossible to get more than 2 hours at best of down sleep time.

There are virtues to Vitamin D that have yet to be explored.

This is more likely to be due to the simplicity of the protocol -- which as you pointed out - was to find the daily iu that worked best with your physiological dis- ease.

Post edited by: Bettyg, at: 11/10/2011 11:05 PM

11/10/2011 11:13 PM
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bettyg's discovery this work that WORKED for my itching problem!

i used EUCERIN dry skin therapy plus essential soothing fast obsorbing lotions

fragrant free

clinically proven for very dry skin

alpha hydroxy forumula moistures all day and noticeable smoothes without a greasy skin feeling

I BOUGHT MINE FROM WALGREEN several months ago; they didn't have what i normally use. very reasonable! lasts a long time.

my rash came back itching earlier in week driving me crazy itching it relentlessly. before i went to bed 2 nights ago, i put this on generously; woke up with itNOT itching, etc. has kept it up ... no itching.

wanted to share what worked for ME; hope it might help all of my dear loved ones in our community here.

disclosure|: i have no association with walgreens, etc; i just like the prices of many thigns in their store plus coupons!

bettyg, leader, iowa activist

05/17/2012 02:27 AM
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Studies Explain Why That Itch Needs Scratching

By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Published: May 15, 2012

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Action Points

Note that these studies were published as abstracts and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The itch-scratch cycle in humans tracked to specific regions of the brain, including areas related to reward, pain sensation, and addiction, according to a study using functional brain imaging.

Note that in another study, increased expression of the itch-specific mediator gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) was found in lichenified (heavily scratched) skin, which correlated with increased expression of GRP receptor in the spinal cord of animals that chronically scratched versus those that did not.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The itch-scratch cycle in humans tracked to specific regions of the brain, including areas related to reward, pain sensation, and addiction, functional brain imaging studies showed.

The imaging results showed different neural activation patterns associated with itching versus scratching and with active scratching versus passive scratching performed by an observer.

The findings, combined with other research reported here at the Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting, improve the understanding of the itch-scratch cycle to develop more effective therapies for itching conditions, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Activation of brain areas previously linked to addiction and the formation of strong emotional attachments appears to "underline the hedonistic aspects of scratching," Alexandru D. Papoiu, MD, PhD, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues reported in a poster presentation.

"These findings highlight the addictive nature of the itch-scratch cycle and suggest a role for the dopaminergic system in the central nervous system in modulating itch relief.

Functional imaging studies in relation to pruritus could be further designed to develop an effective therapy in the future," they added.

Previous studies of brain processing related to the itch-scratch cycle involved interventions that mimicked scratching.

Real scratching constitutes a conscious, voluntary, motor response that is continuously adjusted by means of a neural feedback system, Papoiu and colleagues noted. Feedback loops assess receptive inputs and "appreciate the reward" afforded by scratching.

Using 3-D functional MRI of the brain, investigators performed a study to visualize the key mechanisms and actions involved in itch relief. Specifically, they sought to capture:

Where the decision to scratch occurs

How motions are adjusted in response to itch relief

The pleasurability of scratching

Patterns of brain processing associated with self-scratching versus passive scratching

Prior to investigating the itch-scratch cycle, investigators obtained several control images for comparison. They induced itching by exposing the forearm of volunteers to cowhage, a tropical woody vine with pods covered with barbed hairs.

For active scratching the volunteers were instructed to use only the tips of their fingers and to try to avoid all other movement.

Passive scratching was performed by observers using a cytology brush.

The resulting MR images showed that active scratching more effectively relieved itch than did passive scratching, as reflected in more extensive deactivation of the anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex, insula, and lentiform nucleus.

Involvement of the reward system was reflected in deactivation of the ventral tegmentum from the brain and the raphé nucleus by active scratching in comparison to itching.

In contrast, passive scratching was associated with deactivation of the anterior cingulate cortex, the medial orbitofrontal cortex, caudate nucleus, and the nucleus accumbens.

Another study reported at SID provided the first look into the genetics associated with itch. For the past 4 years researchers have studied itching behavior in a colony of Rhesus macaques with chronic itch.

Investigators correlated the observational data with skin innervation and dermal expression patterns of the itch-specific mediator gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP).

Using skin and spinal-cord tissue, Leigh Nattkemper, also of Wake Forest University, and colleagues found increased expression of GRP in lichenified (heavily scratched) versus nonlichenified skin, which correlated with increased expression of GRP receptor (GRPR) in the spinal cord of animals that chronically scratched versus those that did not.

"Current experimental approaches to investigate the pathogenesis of chronic pruritus are largely limited to rodent models," Nattkemper and colleagues stated in a poster presentation. "This is the first study to show that the itch-specific receptor GRPR and its ligand GRP are linked to chronic itch in primates."

A third report at the SID meeting provided details of a clinical investigation into variations in itch perception and the relief afforded by scratching.

After induction of itching by cowhage exposure, 18 volunteers rated itch intensity and the pleasurability of scratching using a visual analog scale.

The forearm, ankle, and back were tested separately.

The results showed that higher baseline itch was associated with increased itch reduction by scratching at all three sites. For the forearm and ankle, higher itch during scratching correlated with increased pleasurability.

"Pleasurability paralleled the curve of itch reduction for the back and forearm," Shawn G. Kwatra, also at Wake Forest University, and colleagues reported. "However, scratching pleasurability at the ankle remained elevated and only slightly decreased while itch was diminishing."

"There are topographical differences in itch intensity, the effectiveness of scratching in relieving itch, and the associated pleasurability," they added.

"Itch was more intensely perceived at the ankle, while scratching attenuated itch most effectively on the back."

The various study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Primary source: Society for Investigative Dermatology

Source reference:

Papoiu AD, et al "Visualizing the brain processing of the itch-scratch cycle by functional MRI" SID 2012; Abstract 551.

Additional source: Society for Investigative Dermatology

Source reference:

Nattkemper L, et al "Increased expression of gastrin-releasing peptide and its receptor in pruritus-prone rhesus macaques" SID 2012; Abstract 203.

Additional source: Society for Investigative Dermatology

Source reference:

Kwatra SG, et al "The pleasurability of scratching and itch: A psychophysical and topographical assessment" SID 2012; Abstract 504. utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines& utm_source=

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06/20/2013 12:26 AM
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Untangling the Source of Ouch and Itch

Joseph Piergrossi

Posted June 12, 2013

Many of us have experienced the sting of a bad sunburn and the itchy, peeling skin that follows. For decades, scientists suspected that pain and itch were the same thing, only expressed at different intensities: Itch was just light pain, and pain was strong itch.

Scientists have been trying to better understand how these sensations occur on a cellular level.

Recent studies funded by the National Institutes of Health show that pain and itch stem from a complicated process involving many types of neurotransmitters, chemicals that transfer nerve signals to the brain, and receptors, cell surface proteins that accept those signals.

A major goal of this line of research is to find better ways to tackle chronic pain and itch conditions, which often persist despite use of soothing medicines.

Defining Pain and Itch

Illustration of cross-section showing the layers of skin--epidermis on the surface to the underlying fat. Credit: NIGMS.

This cross-section shows the layers of skin, from the epidermis on the surface to the underlying fat. Keratinocytes, cells that start the transmission of sensory signals, live at the lower level of the epidermis near the dermis. Credit: NIGMS.

Pain and itch are both forms of nociception, the sensing of danger through stimulus from the environment. At a basic level, pain tells the body that there either has been an injury or that one is imminent.

Nociception is the reason why we feel a burning sensation when we get too close to a flame. Itch, clinically known as pruritus, signals that there is an irritant or potential toxin around.

In both cases, the skin is vital to signaling. Cells called keratinocytes live at the base of the epidermis, the surface layer of the skin, and send sensory signals to nearby nerve endings.

If skin were a stone wall surrounding a town, then keratinocytes would be the watchtowers that alert the townspeople about approaching intruders. The nerve endings transmit the signal through circuits of multiple nerve cells toward the brain.

But pain is not limited to the skin.

The same pain receptors exist on nerve endings inside the body, producing the sensation of an achy muscle or stomach cramp.

That's not the case with itch receptors. They only go as far inside the body as the mucous membranes, such as inside our nostrils or throat.

This is why our internal organs never seem itchy. If they did, imagine how hard they'd be to scratch!

Pain and itch can come about in different ways. Itch, for example, can be brought on by chemicals called histamines. Histamines are a critical part of the allergic reaction that we feel with a mosquito bite or with hives.

Histamine-mediated itch can be relieved with an antihistamine. But the majority of chronic itch doesn't involve histamine, making it difficult to medicate. In fact, that sort of histamine-independent itch is a common side effect of pain medications such as morphine.

Scientists took this connection between pain and itch as another clue that the two are related, but they still weren't sure whether itch was simply dulled pain or a distinct sensation. They started looking for answers in the nerve cells.

Finding Pain and Itch

Illustration of pain and itch response. Credit: Tim Phelps, JHU.

Xinzhong Dong and his team at Johns Hopkins University found neurons containing both TRP and Mrgpr receptors transmitted itch instead of pain. This meant a response to capsaicin (ball-and-stick molecular model) evoked itch instead of pain in those neurons. In the background (blue) is a micrograph of itch nerve fibers in mouse skin. Credit: Tim Phelps, JHU.

One answer comes from scientists at Johns Hopkins University. The researchers found two families of receptors on nerve cells that receive signals from keratinocytes:

TRP receptors mediate pain and itch, and Mrgpr receptors mediate histamine-independent itch.

Scientists made these findings by turning off different types of receptors in mice, which have a similar nervous system to humans. By exposing the mice to chloroquine, an antimalarial drug that can cause itching as a side effect, and capsaicin, the “hot” compound in spicy peppers, they could tell what the mice sensed.

“If the mouse felt an itch, it would scratch behind its ears with its hind leg,” says Xinzhong Dong, who led the study. “When it felt pain, it would rub its cheek with its front leg.”

Mice lacking an Mrgpr “itch” receptor specific to chloroquine could feel pain but not itch. Mice that didn't have a TRP “pain” receptor that responds to capsaicin actually found capsaicin itchy instead of painful.

Dong explains that these findings indicate that neurons containing only the TRP receptor process pain sensation. On the other hand, neurons containing both the TRP receptor and the Mrgpr receptor transmit itch signals.

The results also suggest that pain circuits can inhibit itch circuits, so only one signal is sent at a time—explaining why pain and itch rarely happen simultaneously.

Today, researchers are pursuing drug compounds that directly block pain and itch receptors to deliver more targeted relief with fewer side effects.

The research reported in this article was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health under grants R01GM087369, R01NS054791, P01NS047399, R01NS014624 and R01NS070814.

Learn more:

Fact Sheets on Anesthesia, Burns and Trauma

Video: The Body's Response to Traumatic Injury

Also in this series:

Life After Traumatic Injury: How the Body Responds

This Inside Life Science article also appears on LiveScience Link to external Web site.

This page last reviewed on June 12, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

National Institutes of Health: NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

45 Center Drive MSC 6200

Bethesda, MD 20892-6200

Tel: 301-496-7301 E-mail: untangling-ouch-itch.html

07/08/2013 11:34 PM
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Itching: No Big Deal in Most Cases But ...

Published: Jul 6, 2013

By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

For best viewing, click the bottom right corner for full screen.

Summer usually brings with it plenty of causes for itching, most of which are annoying but not indicative of serious health problems.

Sources of itch include the usual suspects -- mosquitoes, chiggers (a member of the mite family), and various irritant-bearing plants and vegetation.

Additionally, summer can present more than the usual problems for individuals with chronic skin conditions -- such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis -- according to Sam Friedlander, MD, of University Hospitals/Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

"Sun light and heat can irritate and induce flare-ups of eczema," Friedlander told MedPage Today. "The chlorine in swimming pools is another potential source of irritation for people who have chronic skin conditions.

People can deal with sunlight by taking some of the same precautions that apply to skin cancer, such as avoiding long periods of direct sunlight and wearing clothes that cover the affected areas of the skin.

"Avoiding swimming pools is the best way to avoid chlorine irritation. People who choose to swim in chlorinated pools should try to limit the amount of time they spend in the water and take extra care in following their skin-care regimens that their physicians prescribe for them."

The most common complication of mosquito bites and itching caused by other types of insect bites is scratching. Continual scratching can predispose to infections, particularly if scrapes or scratches in the skin are not kept clean.

Friedlander said topical agents can help minimize itching and scratching. Otherwise, keeping the insect-bite areas clean (especially if scratched) offers the best protection.

The one potentially serious consequence of mosquito bites is disease transmission. People concerned about mosquito-borne illness should check with the local public health department or their personal physicians to see whether they live in an at-risk area, said Friedlander.

Bed bugs, a type of parasite, have become increasingly common in developed countries,

including the U.S. The reasons for the spread are unclear but could be a consequence of increasing travel outside the US, as well as increased trade with areas of the world that have a long history of the pests.

Bed bugs can hide almost anywhere: luggage, dirty clothes, shoes, gift and souvenir bags. Once introduced into a household, the bugs proliferate and spread rapidly, taking up residence in closets, under mattresses, in pillow cases, and a multitude of other places. Bed bug bites usually cause no more than annoying itching, said Friedlander. Rarely, allergic reactions have been reported.

According to the CDC, the best way to get rid of bed bugs is to contact a reputable exterminator.

Sometimes overlooked as a cause or itching is sunburn, or more specifically, the dead skin that occurs as a result of sunburn.

"I've had people come see me because of an 'allergic reaction,' only to discover that the itching was caused by peeling skin from a sunburn," said Friedlander. "It's more common than you might imagine."

"The best protection against this type of itching is to prevent sunburn," he added. "Wear protective clothing, avoid being in the sun during times of the day when the exposure is most intense, and, of course, use sunscreens."

Avoidance also is the best protection against exposure to irritant vegetation, such as poison ivy, poison oak, sumac, and others. The itching is caused by an oil on the surface of the plants, said Friedlander.

If a person recognizes the exposure soon enough, it might be possible to avoid the irritation by washing the exposed areas of the skin.

Despite the widespread belief that exposure to poison ivy and the like can be transmitted from person to person, little evidence exists to support that.

"Most of the evidence I have seen indicates that you have to come in direct contact with the plant," said Friedlander.

"Now it is possible to be exposed by contact with a pet, usually a dog, that has the oil on its coat. Also, if people don't know they have been exposed, they can spread it to other parts of their own body.

I know of cases where people used the toilet without realizing they had been exposed, and they developed itching and burning in places where you really don't want itching or burning."

In two other situations, itch can indicate a more serious health problem: hives and liver disease.

Hives indicates a systemic reaction, and an affected person should see a physician for evaluation of the problem. In the case of liver disease, the itching is almost always accompanied by jaundice, which mandates immediate medical attention, said Friedlander. 40299?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2013-07-08&utm_content=& utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=

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