Itchy skin is a common complaint. Itching is generally caused by dry skin, but it can also be caused by allergies, irritation and certain skin conditions. Allergies and certain skin conditions can result in inflammation of the skin tissue, which causes an itching sensation. Most cases of itchy skin can be treated at home with therapeutic baths.
Colloidal oatmeal baths are the most common type of bath used to treat itching. Colloidal oatmeal is oatmeal that has been ground into a fine powder. This allows the oatmeal to mix with the water rather than simply sinking to the bottom of the bathtub. Add two to three cups of colloidal oatmeal to bath water. It's best to add the oatmeal to running water so it disperses more evenly in the water. A 15-minute soak is usually enough to stop the itching.
Baking Soda Bath
Baking soda has properties that stop itching and gently cleanse the skin. You can prepare a baking soda bath by adding one cup of baking soda per inch of bath water. Five cups of baking soda are usually enough for a full bath. Soaking for 15 to 20 minutes is recommended. You can take a baking soda bath as frequently as three times a day.
Cottonseed Oil Baths
Cottonseed oil is a bath oil commonly used to stop itching, especially in elderly people. Add one to two tablespoons of cottonseed oil to the bath water. The cottonseed oil stops the itching and moisturizes the skin, which may prevent further itching. Cottonseed oil contains high levels of vitamin E, which can help skin heal and protect it from further damage. This type of bath can help prevent recurrent itching.
Cornstarch is commonly found in commercial baby powders. It absorbs excess moisture without drying out the skin. The protocol is to add two cups of cornstarch to four cups of warm water and mix it until it forms a paste and then to add the paste to the bath water. Soaking for 30 minutes brings about the most benefits in terms of relieving itchy skin. Cornstarch works particularly well in preventing the recurrence of itching in places susceptible to moisture, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.
- Colloidal Oatmeal: Colloidal Oatmeal
- Healthline: Therapeutic Baths
- Johns Hopkins Scleroderma: Scleroderma Education Program
- Nationwide Children's Hospital: Chickenpox
- "Psychosomatics"; Pruritus hiemalis: A frequent disturbance among the elderly; FH Stern, July, 1966
Camira Bailey has been writing for various online publications since 2006, specializing in health and animal care. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from UCLA and is completing her master's degree in holistic health. Bailey is also an ACE-certified advanced health and fitness specialist.