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This is Why You Should NEVER Scratch An Itch

Itch is a common symptom associated with many skin conditions such as insect bites, allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, lymphoma and topical steroid withdrawal syndrome. For many patients, chronic and intense itching can be maddening, leading to difficulty in sleep, inability to perform daily tasks and even causing depression and suicide. Unfortunately for many individuals suffering from itching, it is literally a battle on a daily basis. Don’t let the itch win!

If you are reading this and feeling a toll of the battle against itch then you need a plan to find comfort and relief. Here of some helpful tips:

Have the Right State of Mind

Know the fight you’re getting into! Understand the scratch and itch cycle. Scratching the itchy area may make you feel good, briefly. However, scratching releases histamine, breaks the skin barrier and ultimately makes one itch more. Consciously reminding yourself not to itch will then benefit you in the long run.

Have an anti-Itch Mantra, such as “This itch shall pass. I will get better. I am healing.” Studies have found that having a positive mental attitude can influence body and skin health. Either chanting internally or aloud provides relief. A strong mental attitude helps patients to suppress the urge to scratch.

Find a distraction. Many people report feeling itching when they are not preoccupied with an activity. That’s why many start to experience itch at night when they are relaxing. So watch a movie, read a book, just keep yourself busy and occupied!

Pay Attention to Your Hands

Beware the locations of your hands. There are times when the temptation to itch is so strong, it is hard to resist. Sitting on your hands or tucking your hands under your armpits until you feel the itch subside is a good strategy.

Take care of the fingernails. Keep the nails trimmed short and the filed. Make sure the nails don’t have any rough edges. Lastly keep the nails clean. Clean and healthy nails lead to less physical damage inflicted on the itched areas.

Wear gloves to bed. Itching sensation can be worsened during the night. When you’re asleep, you do not have the mental discipline or awareness to stop itching. Wearing cotton gloves can minimize the trauma to the skin, in case you start to scratch.

Comfort Measures

Sometimes, you need reinforcements and tools in the battle against the itch.

Cold temperature helps – Apply ice or an icepack on the itchy spot. Take a cool shower and rinse your body in cool water can temporarily reduce itch.

Moisturizer can sooth your skin. One trick is placing moisturizing lotions, creams or ointment in the refrigerator. Cold moisturizer can comfort the itchy area.

Use a soft scratch tool. Find a tool that is soft and clean and that would not break the skin surface. If you have to scratch, be very GENTLE.

You can also seek medical professional service. Your physicians may prescribe antihistimines such as atarax, Zyrtec, Benedryl and even Doxepin. Remember, medicines like these can make you drowsy.

Many others like you fight ‘The Fight Against the Itch,’ but not for long. Try out these tips and let others know about your success rate.

Dr. Steven Q. Wang is a board certified dermatologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is the leading the Dermatologic Section in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dr. Wang has extensive experience in treating skin conditions and received numerous accolades for outstanding performance and compassion as a dermatologist. In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Wang has an active and successful clinical research program focused in photoprotection, antioxidants, nanotechnology and skin health. With more than 85 peer-reviewed scientific medical articles, book chapters and three books in dermatology authored, Dr. Wang lectures extensively throughout the world, and serves as an expert scientific and medical consultant for a number of international cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies. In recognition of his expertise, major media outlets such as the  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, Dr. Oz and CNN have frequently quoted and featured Dr. Wang.



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