Sunday, May 2, 2010

What's a Good Home Remedy For Itchy Skin?

This article is about lasting relief of eczema-induced itching and rashes, but there's no doubt that if you have eczema, you want relief right now. Before I tell you what you can do for eczema, however, I'd like to tell you what not to do and why. Here it is in a nutshell:

Especially if you have eczema, if you don't want to itch, don't scratch.

The reason people with eczema tend to scratch is it is a kind of self-treatment for skin irritation. The release of inflammatory chemicals at the base of the spine triggers an urge to scratch so the brain doesn't feel the itching, only the scratching. Unfortunately, this reflex reaction is just a temporary fix, and wearing down the skin barrier can invite infection-and more itching!

So what is a good home remedy for itchy skin?

First of all, remove irritants from your home and work space. Don't overheat your home. Sweat-induced dermatitis can occur in a stuffy, hot house or after a too-hot bath or shower. Scaly skin on nose and cheeks, however, usually recovers best if you avoid sudden cooling and cold drafts.

People who have eczema usually have asthma, or hay fever triggered by food, grass, or molds, or have family members who have allergies, asthma, or hay fever triggered by food, grass, or molds.
The symptoms of eczema don't occur unless there is a combination of the genetics for atopic disease and an environmental trigger, such as allergic reactions to household cleaning agents, dander from cats or dogs, or sensitivities to foods, especially milk.

An itchy skin rash on face or neck and eczema symptoms on hands may be triggered by contact with household chemicals such as chlorine, dyes, plasticizers, or detergents, irritating clothing, contact with fiberglass, unusual heat or cold, dryness or humidity, physical exertion, thyroid problems, or psychological stress.

And for your can-do's for what is a good home remedy for itchy skin, consider:

Any skin lotion containing ceramides. Dry, itchy, irritated skin is depleted of ceramides that can be replenished by Dove Moisturizing Lotion (a lower-cost, slower-acting remedy) or CeraVe Moisturizer and Cleanser (about $12 for a 12-oz tube that should last several months).

Vinegar diluted one part of vinegar to five parts of water and used to rinse fungus- or yeast-infected irritated skin. Any kind of mild acid disrupts the growth cycle of yeasts and fungi without harming skin. Just be sure to rinse a second time to remove the vinegar, or you'll smell like a pickle! In my experience, the cheaper white vinegar works as well as apple cider vinegar (and we never even considered rinsing with balsamic).

Pharmacists Joe and Teresa Graedon note that a vinegar rinse can be exactly the answer to the issue of how to treat eczema in ears and also itchy scalps. Just be sure to use warm (not hold or cold) water and flush the ear gently three times a day. Fungal infections usually respond in 2-3 days. This treatment costs less than $2 for a week's treatment.

With a painful bug bite, rash, swelling, and inflammation often follow. Dab vinegar on the bite to relieve swelling, or try a mixture of 1 aspirin in ¼ cup (60 ml) of rubbing alcohol if the skin is not broken. Do not apply either home remedy is there is broken skin, and seek emergency medical help is there is shortness of breath, chest pain, severe swelling, or diarrhea.

Some parents write me that Noxema has changed their eczema-suffering children's whole lives for the better. Redolent of the scent of eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol, Noxema is an inexpensive, safe, gentle, and often effective alternative to skin therapy with Elidel.

Allergy rashes, little bumps on skin, itchy spots on skin, eczema areola in nursing mothers, and minor cuts, scrapes, and burns often respond to aloe. The slimy ooze that forms when you break off an aloe leaf is clinically proven in not just one or two but in over one hundred scientific studies to relieve skin irritation. If you don't have a plant at home, aloe gel is available in health products stores and groceries everywhere, usually for under $10.

Just remember that these suggestions are remedies, not cures!

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