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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Natural Itch Relief

Natural Itch Relief

Summer is a wonderful time of year for getting outdoors and being more active, but along with summer comes itching. Mosquito bites, poison ivy, heat rash, allergies, dry skin from chlorine, and more can all contribute to summertime itchiness.

While scratching may feel good, it can also break the skin, leaving you vulnerable to infection. Instead, here are a few natural remedies to help you find relief from itching:

- Aloe vera: Cut a leaf from an aloe vera plant, slice it down the middle, and rub the gooey gel inside directly onto the itch.

- Baking soda: Add one cup of baking soda to a tub of warm water, soak for hanf an hour, and air dry. For smaller areas, you can make a paste by mixing three parts baking soda to one part water. Apply this directly onto the affected area, but not over broken skin.

- Basil: This popular herb contains a substance called eugenol, which numbs the nerve endings that cause itching. Place a tablespoon of dried basil leaves in 16 ounces of boiling water, keeping the pan covered. Allow it to cool before applying to itchy skin. Reserve the rest in a mason jar to use later.

- Burdock root: Apply the oil from the plant directly to the affected area.

- Chamomile tea: Instead of drinking it, rub a little cold or lukewarm chamomile tea onto rashes with a cotton ball.

– Cold compress:
Apply an ice pack or cold washcloth to any itchy areas, as needed.

- Cornstarch: You can pour some into your bath water, or rub it dry onto the affected areas.

- Juniper berries and cloves: This is an ancient Native American remedy. Juniper berries have anti-inflammatory properties and, like basil, cloves contain eugenol. To make a remarkably effective natural itch salve, melt two tablespoons of of beeswax in a saucepan, add about 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup ground juniper berries, and a tablespoon of ground cloves and stir. Allow the salve to cool before applying to itchy skin, as needed.

- Lemon: Lemon oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can relieve itching. Squeeze the juice from a lemon wedge directly onto itchy skin and allow it to dry.

- Mint: Menthol, the same component that gives mint its characteristic kick, is what makes it effective at fighting itches. Menthol is an anti-inflammatory that can be absorbed into the skin. Place two tablespoons of dried mint leaves in 16 ounces of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Allow it to cool before applying to itchy skin. Reserve the rest in a mason jar to use later.

- Oatmeal: Add up to two cups of oatmeal, ground into a fine powder, to warm bath water.

- Thyme: Like basil and mint, thyme also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is also a numbing agent. Place a tablespoon of dried thyme leaves in a 16 ounces of boiling water. Allow it to cool before applying to itchy skin. Reserve the rest in a mason jar to use later.

- Vitamin C: Eat foods rich in this nutrient to help your body fight off a rash.

- Vitamin E: Rub some vitamin E oil on your skin, and take a supplement, too, for healthier skin.

- Witch hazel: This inexpensive drugstore astringent can help relieve itchy skin. It comes from the bark of the witch hazel shrub, and can be made at home, if you have access to the plant. Just boil about a pound of the twigs in two gallons of water.

49 comments

1 Connie { 09.23.14 at 3:59 pm }

My dog (doodle of some sort, maybe wheaten/poodle/lab/golden cross?) was chewing himself raw but started him on a wheat free diet and he stopped chewing himself. Was still scratching so we put him on a limited ingredients diet and started introducing new foods back. Turns out he is allergic to wheat, chicken, BEEF!, etc. – ended up on a salmon & potato diet and now he looks great and rarely scratches.

2 Lillian { 08.04.14 at 7:02 pm }

For feminine itching, try plain yogurt applied topically – right where it itches. It needs to be the kind with live and active cultures, plain and unsweetened. It cools and soothes immeidately.

3 Karen { 06.03.14 at 1:50 pm }

For those who have dogs who itch…my lab used to itch like crazy and I narrowed it down to the chews she took for her heart worm and fleas. Once we started using the drops on the back of her neck she lost the rash and didn’t itch. It’s definitely worth the try. She would bite her fur off her tail. Vet said it wasn’t the cause but once again I gave her the chews and it came back. Switched and it stopped!!

4 Becky P { 06.03.14 at 10:18 am }

I have lots of fresh herbs growing right now, mint, basil etc. Can I make a “tea” from those as well as the dried ??

5 Cheryl Northrop { 06.03.14 at 8:46 am }

The itching with little blisters that open when scratched is called Contact Dermititis. It’s from allergies. I had this for 10 years before being tested by a dermatologist. I’m allergic to formaldehyde which is in almost everything. Suffered for years because a dr could not diagnose it. Very expensive cream and switching to hair and body products that do not have formaldehyde in it has helped some but not completely gone.

6 neita shaw { 06.02.14 at 7:09 pm }

My vet told me to get the ten and twelve hr allergy pills for my dog. I get the generic. They really help. They do not make him drowsy either, Plus I bath him every week with dandruff shampoo.

7 Chris mednis { 06.02.14 at 5:08 pm }

I have had to give my dogs benadryl sometimes to stop the itching….sometimes they just have really dry skin…even if it doesn’t appear so. Give Em a benadryl pill each day and that usually helps

8 Bek finn { 06.02.14 at 4:56 pm }

To Stephanie Fellows and others who have critters with rashes:
I found with my dogs and one of the cats that things got much better when I switched them to a wheat-, soy- and corn- free diet. Made a huge difference! My beasties had pretty much chewed themselves raw before a friend made the suggestion. Also regular baths until skin heals. Same could be said for humans with rashes. Something is out of balance in the body.

9 Janel { 06.02.14 at 4:37 pm }

My lil beagle started insane itching every August-October about 7 years ago. She has seasonal allergies. At first I tried to prevent it with diet and washing her. All natural food ($$$!), no corn/grains, no by product, drowned her food in fish oil and gave her anything else for omega 3s to strengthen her skin…none of it worked even after trying it for months. She was SO miserable. Bleeding from the scratching, fur loss, whining all the time, yelping when it hurt to scratch her open skin but she still had to scratch it…oh, that poor thing! Then i tried a little Benadryl and slowly upped the dosage. Didn’t make a dent in her allergies and it’s not good for dogs so I stopped that, broke down, took her to the vet and now I get a prescription for her every year. It’s called Medrol and each tablet is 4mg. Cost me $20 for 25 pills (ugh) but I only give her about half a pill per day and eventually taper off to maybe half every other day depending on her itching. Last fall was particularly bad so I ended up having to get a second bottle but I keep whatever’s left over for the following allergy season and they still work. Hope this can help someone.

10 vickie { 06.02.14 at 11:37 am }

in the spring through the summer until hard winter my chest and arms (tops of arms from elbow to wrist only) have broken out with very itchy rash. Single bumps. They blister,but do not spread above my elbows or past my wrists or the underside of my arms. no where else on my body. This has been going on since I started working in a country setting. Anybody know what could cause this?

11 Jennysmama { 04.09.14 at 11:57 am }

My vet told me that Calamine lotion can be used, so I started using it on her and it works.

12 Jennysmama { 04.09.14 at 11:54 am }

Walmart sells one of the best products for dog itches. They’re called Itchy wipes. It costs less than $5 for 30 wipes. Jenny loves them.

13 Rugby { 02.28.14 at 9:15 pm }

So all of them work with all of the itches you mentioned or just specific ones?

14 Jaime McLeod { 02.17.14 at 6:13 am }

Any of these, Pamela. They won’t cure the psoriasis, but they will help the itching.

15 Pamela { 02.15.14 at 6:36 am }

What would be a good and natural way to help with itchy skin from psoriasis?

16 chrissie { 12.22.13 at 4:24 pm }

i have a really bad allergies all over my body it’s already been 3 to 4 weeks since i have this it started on my legs and arms and spread all over my body my neck, my armpit, my chest and tummy, my hands and my fingers. i tried everything, i put tea tree oil, calamine, hydrocortisone, i drink Claritin and Benadryl and atarax but still it working and still spreading an getting worse. i went to the doctor yesterday and they said i have scabies but non of my family got it from me only me. they told me to get this cream called permethrin and they said that I’ll put it all over my body and stay for 12 hours and take a shower after and then everythig will be okay even the red sports will be gond. but when i woke up this morning and took a shower it didnt work and still spreading. what should i do? I’ve been suffering every night and couldn’t sleep because of this.

17 Jaime McLeod { 10.27.13 at 11:48 am }

Hi Mary,
Have you checked the dog for fleas? Sometimes they’re hard to see. If you comb out the dog’s hair, and small brownish flecks fall out, this is probably flea dirt. You can tell for certain if you wet it and it turns red. Many dogs have a severe allergic reaction to flea bites. If you’re positive it’s not fleas, it could be seasonal allergies. This used to happen to one of my dogs every fall. We tried many over-the-counter itch relief products and home remedies, but the only thing that ultimately helped was a steroid prescription from the vet. You can try any of the things recommended in this article, or ask at your local pet store (just beware of certain OTC flea prevention products), but in either case – fleas or seasonal allergies – the best resource for a serious problem is always your vet. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I know from experience vets can be expensive, but it sort of comes with the territory of having pets.

18 Mary Nakamoto { 10.26.13 at 1:46 am }

Hi, my dog just recently started scratching incessantly. Chunks of hair come out, he’s miserable, and it leaves a mess (indoor). He won’t get in the car, not that I could afford the vet. Bathed him with oatmeal shampoo, sprinkled aloe cornstarch , and just now gave him a vinegar rubdown. Please help – he’s my baby?

19 Kassidy { 10.02.13 at 1:47 pm }

about 4 months ago I got a puppy. She is a chiweenie, short hair. After having her for like 2 months I started slowly getting a small rash on my inner thighs. As time passed it slowly started spreading to other areas and the rash got somewhat bigger. I now am broke out still on my inner thighs and up under my butt (sorry tmi) on the back of my legs and now my under arms near my arm pits. the rash are more like clear bumps until I start scratching them then it turns red. I have now realized I have clear like bumps on a couple of my fingers as well as my wrists……PLEASE HELP!

20 stenforce { 09.21.13 at 12:27 am }

Maalox and Desitine. One to one ratio. Controls and heals diaper rash faster. It also works great on a sensitive face, especially when theres a rash or eczema breakout.

21 AT { 07.11.13 at 1:49 pm }

One of the comments mentioned neem oil – beware – that stuff is STINKY. I cannot say whether it works or not because I had to wash it off immediately it smelled SO bad.

22 J.Holland { 06.28.13 at 12:40 am }

For those with rashes that may be caused by yeast infections in warm sweaty places, try eating more yogurt and drinking a glass of cranberry juice daily. The yogurt contains healthy bacteria which help fight the yeast infection. The cranberry juice lowers the body’s pH making it less favorable for yeast. Both help restore balance that may be off because of chemo or other reasons. These were recommended to me by a doctor when my children were younger and I had frequent yeast infections – they worked.

23 Joan H. { 06.27.13 at 4:01 pm }

@ Jen. The problem with your husband is probably a yeast infection. My husband is on chemo also and has been off and on for 5 years. Get a cream for yeast, and have him try that. My hubby also gets it in his mouth which is what thrush is. Niastatin for that. That is a prescription though.

24 Jaime McLeod { 06.26.13 at 2:31 pm }

Vicki,
There are differing opinions on the use of chamomile as a natural remedy by people with ragweed allergies. Some people report issues and others have had good results. It really depends on the individual, but there is at least some correlation. If you are extremely allergic, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. There are so many other potential remedies that would be safer. If you really wanted to try it, you could apply some to a very small area and see what happens.

25 linda partridge { 06.26.13 at 11:26 am }

I get a bad itch on my head a lot..I wake up scratching my head like crazy..it last too long so I can go back to sleep…it itches during the day also..Tried different shampoo’s…Is there a home remedy for this?Need it bad.

26 Vicki { 06.26.13 at 9:43 am }

@Jamie, wondering if you know if chamomile tea bags are safe to use topically if you are allergic to ragweed (both are members of the chrysanthemum family). I bought some at one point, then read the warning and so haven’t had any to drink.

My mom’s dog has terrible itching as well, to the point he can’t sleep. The vet prescribed an antihistamine like Benadryl in addition to special dog food.

27 Jen { 05.27.13 at 8:48 pm }

My husband gets a rash from his chemotherapy treatments and it is in his private area only that it is really bad. Any ideas to help reduce inflamation and itch?

28 Lizzbelle Lim { 05.06.13 at 5:06 am }

Got this itch during a recent trip where the weather was scorching. Applied candacort & betnovate cream but still itches on arms, upper back & hip area. Have just tried basil (Himalaya product ‘tulasi’) powder mixed with water. What a relief! Will continue applying.Thought neem leaf would help but does not. I eat brown rice & bread& unsure whether this causes skin itch. Thanks a lot for the herbal tips.

29 Teri { 01.29.13 at 7:31 am }

Laundry detergent and softeners, as well as soaps will cause favoc on my skin. Nowex detergent helps greatly (google for a rep) and Nature’s Miracle Soap (on-line).

30 April Ouk { 11.11.12 at 8:55 pm }

Did anyone think about this? Maybe we need to change our dogs diet.The dried dog food can cause these allergic reactions. All raw meat diet is just right for our canine friends.Dogs were made to eat meat and its good for them there tummies have the compasity to eat meat.

31 Rose { 09.21.12 at 2:14 pm }

Any un known skin rash on humans or pets that doesn’t respond to meds or natural treatments should seriously do a gluten free diet for 2 weeks to see if that works. it usually does.

32 Diana { 07.31.12 at 5:44 pm }

Thank you for this! Are they all ok for broken skin except the baking soda paste (and maybe the lemon)? Also, my rashes are due to food allergies. Do any of the above remedies also have antihistamine properties?

33 KAT K { 05.02.12 at 3:08 pm }

to STEPHANIE FELLOWS.
My dog has a lot of itching too. Took him to the vet, they always say the same thing, flea allergy even when he has no fleas! All they want to do is give expensive steroid shots. I tried many home remedies. Finally found the best cure: I give him a bath with dawn, then for a final rinse, mix apple cider vinegar with water, about 1/4 cup to 1 cup water. rinse and leave on. You can also make and put in spray bottle. Do not use dog shampoo.

34 STEPHANIE FELLOWS { 05.02.12 at 9:26 am }

MY BLACK LAB…HAS CONSTANT ITCHING,TO THE POINT SHE CANT REST…WE HAVE FOUND NO FLEES.SHE HAS REGULAR BATHS,WE HAVE CHECKED HER SKIN FOR RED SPOTS AND NOTHIN SHOWS UP.CANT AFFORD A VET BILL(WE ARE VERY LOW INCOME)DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS THST WE MIGHT USE (POSSIBLE HOME RENEDYS)THAT WE CAN GIVE THIS POOR BABY SOME RELIEF?LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROMYOU WITH HOPEFULLY SOME REMEDY!!THANX BUNCHES.

35 Kaila { 05.01.12 at 3:07 pm }

I just read your entry about histamine and why it feels good to itch. Is it a good idea to use an anti-histamine if you’re able to ignore the itch? If you don’t inhibit the histimine will your body expel the allergen naturally? This is the first time I’ve experienced itching, came on out of nowhere though it feels like it’s in the same general places so may be bites of some sort. At first I itched to my heart’s delight, but now the skin is sore and I’m resisting. Most active areas include upper legs, lower back, trunk and it feels better when I’m covered with something warm and smooth.

36 Jaime McLeod { 02.07.12 at 3:27 pm }

Tammy,
Try any of the things listed here, or several in combination. But if those don’t work, he should see a doctor.

37 tammy { 02.07.12 at 11:26 am }

My husband get this really really bad itch on hid arms that cause him to itch so much he scratches the skin off. He suffers so badly that he cant even sleep when he has the itch. Its not every single day but when it does act up it last for a week sometimes longer doc not real sure what causes it. He really needs relief so what can i make to stop the itching? Non of the very expensive itch creams work for him. Thanks

38 Jaime McLeod { 08.31.11 at 8:28 am }

Hi Niki,
These remedies are “safe” in that they won’t make things worse, and they may help to relieve the itching to some degree. But shingles are a pretty serious condition that require medical attention. If you are already under a doctor’s care for shingles, trying some of these things to manage outbreaks could help. But they should not be relied upon as a substitute for treatment.

39 Niki { 08.30.11 at 11:49 pm }

are these things safe for shingles?

40 Sofia { 08.01.11 at 9:22 am }

Lavender is the best to use for on Mosquito bites. It stops the itch immediately and also aids in healing.

41 Barbara { 07.18.11 at 2:11 pm }

@Pamela Reid, do you eat a lot of bread (i.e. wheat products)?
@Elaine, Kris could be right. I have a cat w/allergies to some of the food additives in cheaper dry cat food.

42 pamela reid { 06.13.11 at 6:30 pm }

Itching and small sores all over body, mostly on outer arms, upper back, lower legs and lower tuummy. Sores are scattered all over, not close together. Starts as small pimple like bump, after scratched, bleeds and leaves small dry scar when healed. Spots noticeable on arms and I itch like crazy all over. Any suggestions. Seen by MD and no clue as to what is causing this.

43 Jaime McLeod { 06.08.11 at 12:53 pm }

Hi Brad,
As noted above, the oatmeal must be ground, not whole. If you grind it into a fine powder, it will dissolve in the water.

44 Brad { 06.08.11 at 12:51 pm }

My only concern about putting the oatmeal in the bathtub is the risk of clogging the drain.

45 joann { 06.08.11 at 11:40 am }

A good remedy from a First Nations man given to me a long time ago was to use roll on deoderant to stop itching from mosquitoes. Works really quick
and is always around………..try it and see!

46 Kate { 06.08.11 at 10:12 am }

The vet and drugstores might sell a spray called “Bitter Apple” which is safe to use on dogs who pull out their hair.

47 Jaime McLeod { 06.08.11 at 9:31 am }

Any of these should be safe to use on a dog. But, really, the best thing would be to take the dog to the vet and have her evaluated. Pulling out fur is usually caused by an allergy, but could also point to a more serious condition. It’s best to find out what’s causing it and try to eliminate the underlying problem. Your vet will probably also give you an e-collar (it looks like a lampshade), to help break the chewing cycle while the skin condition heals. These remedies are meant for people who already know what’s causing their itches – insect bites, poison ivy, dry skin. Any rash or serious itching with an unknown cause – whether on a human or pet – should always be looked at by a doctor.

48 Kris { 06.08.11 at 9:31 am }

Elaine,
You might want to get her checked for allergies. A buddy of mine had a Lab that pulled out all the hair she could reach do to allergies. Cold be as simple as fleas too.

Best of luck

49 Elaine { 06.08.11 at 9:22 am }

I would like to know which of these itch remedies would be safe to use on a dog that pulls out her fur in the summertime. I assume she is feeling an itch-type sensation which causes her to do this.

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