Itching disrupts the quality of a person’s life, forcing a person to harm him or herself.
It is best, of course, to find the cause of the itch and prescribe etiotropic treatment. But often, even if the cause is known, it is impossible to get rid of itching. Therefore, control over these symptoms is the main thing of the whole treatment. Self-care in all aspects is very important. Usually, doctors recommend:
- to be in a cool environment & avoid overheating, use air conditioners, take a cool bath,
- not to wear clothes made of synthetic & woolen materials, avoid irritating skin,
- not to drink alcohol because it dilates the subcutaneous vessels (avoid other vasodilators such as caffeine & hot tubs),
- avoid too active use of soap & use detergents with a low pH factor, moisturize the skin after showering with creams.
Traditional treatment includes medicines and phototherapy.
Antihistamines reduce the increase in the permeability of capillaries caused by histamine, edema of the tissues, itching, and hyperemia. The effect occurs after 15-30 minutes after application.
Ointments with corticosteroids are traditionally used to treat localized pruritus caused by skin diseases. Corticosteroids rarely relieve pruritus in general without any dermatitis symptoms, but can sometimes be useful if using it with moisturizers based on Vaseline or glycerol in elderly patients with dry skin.
Corticosteroids are not intended for a long-time usage because of the danger of skin atrophy. Systemic hormone therapy is considered the last resort & should be applied in the form of a short 1-2 week course.
Local anesthetics influence by blocking the transfer of impulses along the fibers or reducing the sensitivity of the skin receptors. They are useful for itching of low intensity. Local anesthetics can be combined with refrigerants, such as menthol, to increase efficiency.
The main ingredient of red pepper also removes the itch by desensitizing the receptors that provoke itching sensations. It is useful with limited-severe itching, but can cause local burning. True, skin irritation decreases during repeated use if the patient finds the strength to reconcile with the initial side effect.
Ultraviolet phototherapy can be used for various diseases: uremia, HIV infection, urticaria, erythremia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, systemic mastocytosis, skin infiltration in breast cancer, chronic liver pathology.
It is often resorted to after repeated unsuccessful attempts to treat itching with other remedies. Costs & side effects can be an obstacle for patients.
Several alternatives to the traditional treatment of pruritus were suggested.
Some herbs used for baths can also have a beneficial effect: oatmeal, chamomile, fenugreek, mulberry, oak bark, lavender. Side effects can cause allergic dermatitis.
Sometimes sedatives are used, such as Valium and other sedatives available in pharmacies. However, the use of this medicine is recommended for complex treatment, since it is too powerful.