Itchy skin can be painful and irritating, and scratching it often makes it worse. Medically, it is called pruritus, and it is caused by a number of factors. A number of things can cause itchy skin including eczema and dryness: if itchy skin persists, or is linked with areas of redness and irritation, consider seeing a doctor to have your skin looked at more closely. In some instances, your skin may be infected or you may even have something like scabies, which starts out with itchy skin and a red rash. There are a number of things which can help to reduce itchy skin, whether it is caused by a medical condition or the season.
Usually, itchy skin is caused by dryness, which is why it is a common problem in the winter. Start by keeping your skin moisturized. In extremely dry areas, consider using a humidifier to raise the humidity in your home, which will help to keep your skin moisturized and flexible. You should also avoid extremely hot showers, abrasive soaps, and skin products which contain alcohol and other drying agents. After bathing, pat your skin mostly dry and apply a rich moisturizer or oil to condition, soothe, and moisturize your skin. Reapply your moisturizer at several points during the day, and if you have hot spots on your hands and feet, consider intensive moisturizing at night with socks and gloves.
In addition to keeping your skin moist, you should also avoid tight, scratchy clothing, which can irritate the skin. Many people also have itchy skin because they are allergic to something, so stick with natural fibers, try to avoid carpeting, and use mild hypoallergenic soaps and detergents. If you notice repeated itchy, painful rashes, you may have a food allergy which should be addressed by a medical professional.
Soothing baths can also help with itchy skin. Try using bath additives like oils, milks, clays, and baking soda to soothe itch. Avoid salts and other drying bath additives, which will leave the skin feeling like a dry, crackling mask. Oatmeal baths will also help to soothe itchy skin and leave the skin firmer and healthier as well. Keep soothing baths tepid, rather than hot, and remember to gently pat, not rub, dry and moisturize afterwards.
Other home remedies include lemon, a natural antiseptic which can soothe itchy skin. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto a hot spot and allow it to dry. Cloves and juniper berries can help to soothe itchy skin, and are often found suspended in salves. To make your own, melt butter and beeswax in equal amounts before adding fresh ground cloves and juniper berries to the mixture, stirring, and allowing it to cool. Spread it directly on the skin. Mint, thyme, and basil can also help with itchy skin: try adding them to a bath, or making a tea out of one or all of these spices and dipping a washcloth in it. Run the washcloth gently all over the body to ease itchy skin.