Itchy rashes are no fun. They can be unattractive, embarrassing, and even painful. Constant scratching can keep you up at night. In some cases, a rash is a symptom of another problem that may require treatment.
Below, we discuss many factors that cause rashes and itchiness and provide simple home remedies you can use to find relief without visiting a drugstore.
Causes & Symptoms
A rash is characterized by itchy, red skin. It can be accompanied by small bumps, changes in texture, swelling, pain, and/or changes in color.
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Insect bites
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Skin-to-skin friction (intertrigo)
- Dry skin (xerosis)
- Heat/excessive sweating
- Contact with plants like poison ivy
How to Prevent Rashes and Itchy Skin
There are many steps you can take to prevent rashes.
Avoid hot showers, excess bathing, and long showers. Hot water can feel good temporarily, but it can leave your skin itchy and dried out.
Avoid harsh/perfumed soaps, shampoos, detergents, cleaning products, and cosmetics.
Use a high-quality lotion or moisturizing cream twice per day. Always wear sunscreen when you’re in the sun. Do your best to minimize stress, skin injuries, and bug bites.
The image above shows a heat rash, which is common in hot, humid weather.
To prevent heat rash:
- Try to keep your body dry
- Exercise in an air-conditioned gym (not outside)
- If you do choose to exercise outside, wear tight clothes designed to wick away moisture
- If you feel overheated, cool off with a wet towel or shower
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing when you’re outside in the heat; choose natural fibers like silk or cotton
- Drink lots of water
Intertrigo is a rash caused by skin-to-skin friction. It is most common among overweight individuals.
To prevent intertrigo:
- Always wear deodorant
- Use baby powder or petroleum jelly on body parts that tend to rub together
- Medicated barrier creams are also helpful, especially on the groin area
- Wear sandals or open-toed shoes to keep your feet cool
Speak with a doctor if you think your weight may be causing friction rashes.
If you have a skin condition that requires medication, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions. Take all medication prescribed.
If you have allergies or have identified a behavior or stimulus that causes flare-ups, try to avoid whatever it is that’s causing the rash. I know this is sometimes impossible, which is why I’ve included a list of home remedies below.
Home Remedies for Itching Rashes
Best for: irritation caused by eczema, poison ivy, sunburn, allergies, and chicken pox.
What you’ll need: ground oatmeal, a bathtub full of warm water, milk powder, honey, muslin cloth, and a rubber band. You can use a coffee grinder or food processor to blend the oatmeal.
Baths are the best home remedies for itchy skin all over.
The recipe: combine 1/2 cup ground oatmeal, 2 teaspoons honey, and ¼ cup milk powder. Put the mixture into a muslin cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place the bag into a bathtub of warm water. Soak in the bath for 20 minutes. Follow the bath with moisturizer and repeat daily for best results.
Tip: for rashes on the face, mix equal parts plain yogurt and oatmeal with a little honey. Apply a thick layer and leave on the face for 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Do this daily until the irritation subsides.
Extra-virgin olive oil is another easy home remedy for skin allergies and irritations. This common kitchen item is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. It acts as a great moisturizer that promotes healing and facilitates skin renewal.
- You can use straight olive oil on rashes, or mix equal parts with honey. Rub the mixture onto affected areas a few times per day until the irritation dissipates.
- Mix a pinch of turmeric with olive oil and apply to affected area 3x per day. Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory and antibacterial that can relieve itching.
- You can also use coconut oil or castor oil to heal rashes.
Wondering how to stop itching at night? Take a baking soda bath before bedtime.
Just dump 1 cup of baking soda into a bathtub of warm water and soak for 30-60 minutes. When you’re finished, gently dry your skin with a towel (pat, don’t rub).
For smaller areas, mix 1 part water with 3 parts baking soda. Apply the paste to affected areas.
Best for: irritation caused by psoriasis and eczema.
Combine equal parts of unprocessed honey, olive oil, and beeswax. Start by heating the beeswax in a pan over low heat. Stir occasionally until melted. Pour the beeswax into a bowl and mix with honey and then olive oil; stir until the mixture is well blended. Pour the mixture into an airtight container while it is still warm; place in the fridge.
The salve will expire in about 3 months.
Best for: general itchiness.
What’s you’ll need: whole cloves and juniper berries, unsalted butter, beeswax, and a spice grinder.
The recipe: start by melting 3 oz. unsalted butter in a pan over low heat. In a second pan, melt 2 tablespoons beeswax. Once the beeswax has melted, combine it with the butter and stir. Add 3 teaspoons ground cloves and 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries.
Allow the mixture to cool; apply directly to skin for itch relief.
How to get rid of face rash from allergic reaction:
You can easily relieve a face rash by placing slices of cool cucumber on the affected area. Cucumbers work to reduce skin inflammation because they are naturally cooler on the inside.
Keep an unsliced cucumber in your fridge if you suffer from frequent face rashes. When a flare-up occurs, cut the veggie into slices, lie down, and place a few slices on your face. Relax for 20 minutes.
When to Visit a Doctor
Sometimes a rash can be a symptom of a chronic disorder or a more serious problem. You should always seek medical attention if you have a rash that continues to get worse or does not start to fade after 3-4 days.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin disorder that manifests as a scaly, red, itchy rash. It is most often found on knees and elbows. Eczema is caused by a protein deficiency in the skin and is usually apparent from childhood.
Eczema triggers include allergens like mold and pollen, skin infections, sudden changes of temperature, cold winter air, emotional stress, chemical irritants, perfumes or dyes, and rough materials (like wool).
Psoriasis is an unpredictable, chronic skin condition in which a person’s skin cells multiply much faster than they should. The accumulation of dead skin cells causes small white bumps and redness.
Eczema triggers include alcohol consumption (especially full-calorie beer), smoking, infections (including strep throat and thrush), stress, and some medications.
Learn to identify and avoid triggers and talk with a doctor about treatment options.
Rashes can be a symptom of bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. If your symptoms persist for a few days and you don’t know what caused them, you should visit a doctor or dermatologist.
You may want to visit a doctor if you have trouble with friction rashes (intertrigo). Prescription barrier creams like Tetrix tend to be effective.
Contact dermatitis is a rash that forms after your skin is exposed to an irritant. It usually looks dry and scaly but does not itch. Contact dermatitis may cause blisters.
Contact dermatitis can be an allergic reaction, but not always. Common irritants include nickel, poison ivy (pictured at left), formaldehyde, topical antibiotics and antihistamines, and Balsam of Peru (an ingredient common in perfumes and cosmetics).
The best choice here is to get an allergy test. This will help identify triggers so that you are better able to control your symptoms. If you come into contact with a known irritant or allergen, rinse the area immediately to reduce or prevent a reaction.
Always call your doctor immediately if you experience a rash or skin reaction after taking a new medication. Click here to learn more about DIY treatments for clearer, younger looking skin.