Itchy hands and feet, or pruritus, can be a symptom of many different skin conditions, such as allergic rashes, psoriasis, or dermatitis. This condition can be painful or very bothersome, and your skin may feel rough, red, or have bumps and rashes that get worse at night. You'll need to ask your doctor for a diagnosis, but you can ease the discomfort with a variety of home remedies and medical methods.
Method 1 of 3: Treating Itching at Home
Step 1. Do not scratch the skin
Avoid scratching as much as possible. Scratching can make your symptoms worse, or cause other problems, including skin infections.
- Keep your nails short to help prevent scratching.
- Consider wearing gloves at night and while you sleep to prevent scratching.
Step 2. Make sure the skin stays hydrated
Moisturize the skin of your hands and feet before you go to bed to reduce or prevent itching. You can also humidify it by using a humidifier in the bedroom.
- Apply moisturizer to the skin at least once a day. The best time to apply this moisturizer is after you shower, when your skin is still damp. Focus on the itchy areas after you shower and before going to bed.
- Use an odorless and tinted moisturizer to prevent skin irritation.
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom can ensure that the air inside isn't damp, as well as preventing dry skin so you'll want to scratch it while you sleep.
- Avoid extreme temperatures, which can dry out the skin.
Step 3. Soak in lukewarm water
In this way, itchy skin can feel a little comfortable, besides the inflammation will be reduced. You can consider adding colloidal oatmeal to make your skin softer.
- Spray water with baking soda, raw oatmeal/colloidal oatmeal. All of these can help soothe the skin.
- Soak in the tub for 10-15 minutes. If you soak for too long, your skin can dry out, making it more itchy.
- Make sure your water is lukewarm rather than hot. Hot water can remove the natural oils on the skin, making the skin dry and more itchy.
- Apply lotion to your skin after you shower, while your skin is still wet and hasn't dried. Focus the lotion on the hands and feet. You should do it this way to ensure that your skin retains moisture after bathing, so that it stays hydrated and makes it easier to itch.
Step 4. Use a cold or wet compress
Place a cold, cool, or wet compress on your hands and feet when you go to bed. A cold compress or ice pack can help relieve the itching and inflammation associated with prunitis. The way it works is by restricting blood flow and cooling the skin.
- You can put a cold compress on the rashes on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes or until you fall asleep.
- If you don't have an ice pack, use a bag filled with frozen vegetables for the same result.
- Do not apply ice directly to the skin or you will develop frostbite. Make sure you wrap the ice or ice pack in a cloth because if the ice is applied directly, it can numb the skin.
Step 5. Wear loose, smooth pajamas
Avoid and relieve itching by wearing pajamas that will not irritate the skin. Clothing like this can also help protect the skin against scratching.
- Wear cool, loose-fitting, soft-textured pajamas made of cotton or merino wool to prevent scratching and excessive sweating.
- Clothes made of cotton are good because they have pores, so they are breathable and soft to the touch.
- Consider wearing socks and gloves to prevent itching.
Step 6. Create a comfortable and cool sleeping environment
Sleep in a comfortable, cool, and well-ventilated room. By controlling factors such as room temperature and darkness, making a comfortable bed, and maintaining air circulation, you can prevent itchy hands and feet.
- Set the temperature to be in the range of 15-23 degrees Celsius to achieve optimal sleeping conditions.
- Use a fan to keep air circulating or open windows while you sleep.
- Sleep on comfortable sheets made of natural fibers such as cotton.
Step 7. Watch for signs of skin infection
Dry, itchy skin on your hands and feet puts you at greater risk of developing a superficial skin infection, also known as cellulitis. Call your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms on your skin:
- Pain and/or sensitivity to touch
- Skin feels warm to the touch
- Red patches, pits, and/or blisters
Method 2 of 3: Precautions
Step 1. Maintain proper hand and foot care
Wash your hands and feet regularly to minimize the risk of fungal and bacterial infections, which can cause extreme itching. Use a mild soap. This soap can keep hands and feet clean, and prevent infection.
- Wear cotton socks that absorb sweat to help prevent itching, especially if your feet sweat easily.
- Wear gloves made of natural fibers such as cotton to prevent itching.
Step 2. Choose “hypoallergenic” laundry soap and detergent
When buying soaps and detergents, choose those labeled as mild, scent free, dye free, or hypoallergenic. These products contain fewer harmful chemicals, which can irritate the skin and cause itching.
All products marked “hypoallergenic” have been tested on sensitive skin and will not irritate it
Step 3. Avoid allergens and irritants
Pruritus can occur due to certain substances that cause allergies or irritation. Knowing the triggers for hives can help you avoid them and relieve further discomfort.
- Triggers can be detergents, food allergies, cosmetics, environmental factors, insect bites, or harsh soaps/detergents.
- If you wear jewelry, itching may occur as a reaction to the metallic material.
- If you suspect something is triggering your hives, try limiting your overexposure and see if that relieves your symptoms.
Step 4. Stay hydrated
When the skin becomes itchy, the brain gets a signal telling you that you should drink more water. This is because itching is usually caused by dehydration. At the same time, if your inner skin layer is not moist enough, you may also experience an itching sensation. Drink water throughout the day and consume a full glass before going to bed.
- Try to drink at least 8 to 12 glasses of water every day. If you get bored, you can add juice to make it taste better.
- You can also eat foods with a high water content, such as cucumbers, cherries, tomatoes, celery, green chilies, watermelon, strawberries, pumpkin, and broccoli.
Step 5. Avoid things that cause irritation and allergies
Your condition may worsen if you are exposed to irritants, such as chemicals or pollen. If you know the things you are allergic to-including food and dust-stay away from them as much as you can.
If you don't know what allergies you have, see an allergy specialist. He or she will run several tests to determine your allergies
Step 6. Stay away from vasodilators and excessive sweating
Some foods and drinks are classified as vasodilators, including coffee and alcohol. These foods and drinks can make itching worse. Sweat too much too. Avoid vasodilators and situations that make you sweat a lot to help minimize itching and discomfort.
Some examples of common vasodilators are caffeine, alcohol, spices, and hot water
Step 7. Reduce stress levels
Stress in life can cause severe itching. Try reducing stress levels in your life to minimize or cure itching.
You can use a variety of techniques to reduce stress, such as therapy, meditation, yoga, or exercise
Method 3 of 3: Using Medical Treatments
Step 1. Visit a doctor
If the itching doesn't go away after a week or you feel very uncomfortable, see a doctor. He or she may prescribe oral medications, steroid creams, or suggest mild therapy to relieve the itching.
See a doctor if: you are so uncomfortable that your sleep or daily bodily functions are disrupted, your skin hurts, home remedies don't work, or your skin becomes infected
Step 2. Apply calamine lotion or anti-itch cream
Calamine lotion or anti-itch cream can relieve symptoms. You can buy both of these items at drug/grocery stores, either physically or online.
- Over-the-counter anti-itch creams, or hydrocortisone, can help reduce itching. Make sure you buy a cream that contains at least 1% hydrocortisone.
- Look for anti-itch creams that contain camphor, menthol, phenol, pramoxine, and benzocaine.
- Apply these creams on your hands and feet before you moisturize your skin. Your doctor may also suggest applying the cream to the itchy area, then covering it with a damp bandage so the skin can absorb the cream more effectively.
- Follow the specific directions on the product to find out how often you can apply the cream to your skin.
Step 3. Take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine
This drug can neutralize the allergy-causing substances and help reduce itching and inflammation of the skin. There are many over-the-counter antihistamines in grocery stores and pharmacies, both physical and online.
- Chlorpheniramine is usually available in 2 and 4 mg doses. You can take 4 mg every 4 to 6 hours. No more than 24 mg per day.
- Diphenhydramine is sold in doses of 25 and 50 mg. You can take 25 every 4 to 6 hours. Do not take more than 300 mg per day.
- These medications are also usually sedative, so they can be helpful if you have trouble sleeping.
Step 4. Consider taking an antidepressant
Several types of SSRIs, or selective serotonin inhibitors, have been shown to relieve pruritis. Talk to your doctor about this option if other treatment methods don't work.
The SSRIs that are often used to treat itchy skin are fluoxetine and sertraline
Step 5. Apply a prescription corticosteroid to the itchy areas
When itching cannot be relieved by using over-the-counter topical corticosteroids, your doctor may prescribe stronger oral or topical corticosteroids, such as prednisone.
- Oral steroids can cause serious side effects when used long term.
- Continue to moisturize the skin while taking oral and topical corticosteroids. This way, not only will the skin be hydrated, but the itching can also be prevented when you stop using the steroid.
Step 6. Use a calcineurin inhibitor cream
If all other treatments don't work, buy a calcineurin inhibitor cream, which can help repair the skin. These medications, including tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, can help maintain normal skin and minimize itching.
- Calcineurin inhibitors affect the immune system directly and have some side effects such as kidney problems, high blood pressure, and headaches.
- These drugs are only prescribed when all other treatments have failed, and should only be taken by people over the age of 2 years.
Step 7. Get light therapy
Your doctor may prescribe several sessions of light therapy (phototherapy) to help relieve itching. This highly effective treatment can be very simple, from basking in the sun to using artificial light, although there are risk factors.
- Phototherapy will expose the skin to natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light A (UVA) and narrow ultraviolet B (UVB). This treatment can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
- Exposure to light increases the risk of skin cancer as well as premature aging.