Anti-itch creams are remedies used when certain conditions like eczema cause the skin to turn itchy and dry, leading to extreme irritation. But first, what does the anti-itch cream do? It is important to understand that an this cream does not cure itchiness or heal the cause of the itch. It only subdues or lessens the sensation of itchiness perceived by our brain. This effect causes us not to scratch the skin even more preventing further skin damage and bleeding. This will only have a temporary effect and the sensation of itch gradually returns.
Before considering the use of these treatments, it is vital to figure out what is causing that itch. There are a number of factors which could cause itching such as allergies, hives, psoriasis and eczema. Different types of anti-itch creams are used for different types of itches. Anti-itch cream can also help against the itch caused due to infections such as yeast infections, ring worms etc. but you will still need an anti-fungal medication if you have an infection.
Itching is caused due to so many factors and one of the most common symptoms, thus it is very difficult to figure out the exact cause for any specific itch. So, before considering it, it is a good idea to treat the itch with safer materials. Try putting ice or menthol on the itchy surface to see if the cooling effect is helping against the itch. Weather conditions like cold weather can cause temporary dry skin so you can try to use a moisturizer to see if the itch is subdued. If none of the common methods are helpful, it is essential to visit a doctor and consider using anti-itch creams.
Types of Anti Itch Creams
One of the best types available are the ‘Topical Steroids’ (which contain small amounts of hydrocortisone) and they come in varying strengths. The creams and ointments are the strongest whereas the gels and sprays are the weakest. It is important to know that topical steroids must be used cautiously under a doctor’s supervision as they have side effects. These creams are only intended for short term purposes and overuse can lead to thinning of the skin, creation of stretch marks and enlarged blood vessels.
Using the anti-itch cream in less amounts can reduce the resulting side effects. However, the end result of the effectiveness using these are dependent on the absorption rate of the skin. So, some people need to use more whereas some people need to use less. Absorption rate also depends on thickness of skin, surface area of the skin where the ointment is being applied, strength of the cream, frequency of usage and method of applying (gel, spray or ointment). If the person is an infant, it is advised to consult the child’s doctor before applying ointments as children’s skin is more prone to side effects and in this case, gel is a better option.
Other types of anti-itch cream are ‘Topical Antihistamines’ and ‘Topical Anesthetics’. Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergy and are helpful against eczema. This cream works by removing a chemical which the human immune system creates to combat allergy and in return prevent swelling and inflammation. It is very important to use this cream as less as possible due to its side effect of interfering with the immune system. On the other hand, Topical Anesthetics are used to temporarily block the transmission of pain signals to the brain creating a relief. This cream is only used in specific conditions such as insect sting etc. and not generally for itchy skin.
Towards the end, it is very essential to understand that usage of these anti-itch creams can have undesirable side effects and it is best advised to use them as little as possible. Also, it is a better option to use these creams under doctor’s supervision. If these over the counter creams are not effective against the itch, you may need to consult your doctor for a much stronger prescription-based medicine.