Itchy skin, whether the cause is dry winter air, a rash or a recurring skin condition, can be extremely uncomfortable. Giving in to the urge to scratch can pose a risk of bleeding and infection. Moisturizing your skin through a bath can be soothing. Adding products to the bath water may help stop the itching, too. When products are added to bath water, the bottom of the tub may become slippery, so use extra care getting in and out after trying these methods.
An oatmeal bath is a natural way to soothe itching that accompanies chicken pox, poison ivy or generalized rashes, as well as chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Use the same whole, uncooked oats that you keep in your kitchen pantry, or use a special product called colloidal oatmeal, which is ground to a fine powder and designed just for this purpose. Run your bath water and sprinkle in up to 1 cup of regular oatmeal or up to 3 cups of colloidal oatmeal. Soak in an oatmeal bath for as long as you want to soothe your itchy skin, as the natural ingredients do not carry a risk of drying out your skin as other products may.
The smooth texture of baking soda can relieve itchy skin when it is incorporated into your bath. Sprinkle up to 1/2 cup of plain baking soda into your bathtub as the water runs to form a soothing treatment that helps removes dirt, oil and sweat that can causing itching. Or you can create a paste of baking soda, essential oils or vanilla extract and water beforehand, and place it under the running bath water for a more fragrant bathing experience that is soothing to itchy skin.
Oil and Salt
The National Psoriasis Foundation, or NPF, says that adding Epsom salt or oils--such as vegetable or olive oil--to bath water can reduce the itching that psoriasis sufferers experience. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease in which the top layers of your skin build up and shed more quickly than normal. The thickening of the skin, called plaques, can flake away in scales and itch. Bathing in salts and oils can facilitate the easy removal of the scales, which can relieve itching and discomfort. The NPF recommends soaking in a salt or oil bath for at least 15 minutes for best results.
The National Eczema Association says that taking a bath with diluted bleach may curb some of the itchy symptoms associated with eczema, a chronic inflammation of the skin. Adding 1/2 cup of household bleach to a full tub of warm bath water may soothe the itching by decreasing bacteria on the skin as well as bacterial skin infections. This type of bathing may not be for everyone, including those who have open sores or weeping eczema, as the bleach may cause more pain than relief. Soaking for 10 to 15 minutes can be beneficial, but more than that can cause your skin to dry out, which can lead to more itching. Limit your bleach bath treatments to twice a week at most. Alternatively, you can add 1 cup of vinegar to the bath water to achieve the same bacteria-killing effect.
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.