There are many reasons why skin can become itchy, and dry skin is a common culprit. Cold weather, low humidity, excessive bathing and use of strong soaps can all dry out your skin, leaving it itchy and uncomfortable.
Of course, certain skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) can also cause intense skin itch, as can simply getting older. That’s because as we age, skin loses its capacity to produce and retain moisture.
If you suffer from dry, itchy skin, you know that the physical discomfort can be considerable. Scratching not only won’t help… it can further irritate skin, which can lead to an even more intense itch. Cracks in the dry skin caused by scratching also allow bacteria to penetrate the skin, leaving you vulnerable to infection. Luckily, there are steps you can take to break this Cycle” and help get your skin back under control.
Explanation of how dry itchy skin and eczema work
Dry skin is bad enough but when it develops into eczema it can become a torture difficult to bear. In order to handle the problem, it is best if a better understanding is reached as to what are causes of eczema and dry itchy skin.
The outer layer of skin is designed to protect the delicate cells of the deeper layers. This outer layer needs to stay moisturized to protect these deeper layers. In order to keep the moisture from leaving the outer layer of skin, natural oils are produced.
These oils also help keep irritants away from the deeper layers of skin. Regular washing with soap, or exposure to chemicals, can remove these natural oils. When the natural oil is stripped from the outer layer of skin the moisture quickly evaporates leaving dry itchy skin. The deeper layers are now left exposed to harsh damaging substances including detergents, solvents, cleaners, paint and thinners, gardening chemicals, dirt and grease, latex gloves and powder, etc. This makes matters worse and creates a dire need of itchy dry skin treatment
When we use conventional hand lotions and moisturizers, we send the message to the skin saying that it is adequately moisturized, when in fact, it is dehydrated of its natural moisture. The body responds by reducing its production of natural oils and moisture and this in turn makes the dry itchy skin problem worse. People have been known to complain that their skin is drier than before they started using conventional moisturizers for that very reason. Very often, severe cases of dry itchy skin left unresolved could result in eczema with the accompanying added discomfort of itchiness that is almost unbearable.
Here are some herbs that help
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Oil
Evening primrose seed oil (EPO) is used primarily to relieve the itchiness associated with certain skin conditions, including eczema. Results of studies regarding EPO for eczema are mixed. Similar to GLA an omega-6 fatty acid that is derived from EPO, whether EPO relieves the symptoms of eczema may be very individual. Talk to your healthcare provider to decide if it is safe and worthwhile for you to try EPO for your eczema.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Known mainly for its relaxing effects to aid with anxiety and insomnia, some herbal specialists prescribe oral lavender for skin conditions like eczema. In one study of topical lavender, however, children with eczema who received massage with or without lavender oil applied to the skin both did well. In other words, the improvement in the rash was related to the massage â€“ whether lavender oil was used or not seemed to make no difference. To the extent that eczema is worsened by stress, it is possible that lavender adds some benefit by helping you relax.
Herbs that have been used traditionally to treat eczema are listed below. A naturopathic doctor or other herbal specialist might recommend one or more of these remedies after evaluating you and your eczema.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) â€“ may reduce inflammation and speed wound healing
Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) â€“ applied topically for wound healing; has anti-inflammatory properties
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) â€“ has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as an ointment for this skin condition