Itch is one of the most irritating and debilitating symptoms of allergy as well as several skin and systemic diseases. Itching can affect the day to day life of a person although the symptom is not life threatening. The underlying physiology of itching involves a complex mechanism of nerve and skin cells. An allergy is the immune response of the body towards an allergen. This allergen can be anything from simple dust, pollen to food, chemicals, etc.
Some people’s immune system is hypersensitive to certain substance. When the skin is exposed to such allergen, it produces inflammatory reaction on the skin in the form of itching and rash.
How Do Allergies Cause Itching?
Itchy skin in allergic reaction develops due to complex mechanism of the nerve cells and skin cells. The skin has an important function of protecting the inside of body. The skin has specific cells from the immune system which helps to protect it and the body from various substances and pathogens. When the immune system of the body detects certain substance to be allergic to the body, it triggers a response in the form of release of histamine.
It is a chemical that is released from the special cells of the skin’s blood vessel. This causes leakage of blood from the tiny vessels leading to itching, rash and inflammation. Allergy can occur due to an allergen touching the skin, inhaling or eating. Itching in allergic reaction can occur in localized area of the body or throughout the body.
The common allergens that are known to trigger itching are:
- Irritants such as soaps and detergents, washing liquid, chemicals and dyes.
- Common food allergens are egg, peanuts, fish, prawns, shellfish, soy products, cow’s milk, food additives, etc.
- Environmental substances that produce allergy and itching include dust, mites, grasses, mold, pollen, pet dander, certain plants such as poison ivy etc.
- Contact allergy with synthetic fabrics, woolen clothes, rubber, latex, metals, chemicals, jewelry, cosmetics, perfumes etc.
- Insect stings and bites can inject venom in the body. This venom can cause allergic reaction which may manifest as itching at the site of bite or even throughout the body.
Home Remedies For Severe Itching Due To Allergy
Skin itching caused due to allergy can be treated with home remedies as well as conventional over the counter medicines. The first step of treatment is to identify the offending allergen. This will help the person to avoid the allergen in future and prevent repeated episodes of allergy and skin itching. In case if the allergen is not identifiable, consult the doctor as he will do patch test on skin to determine the allergic agent.
Following home remedies are useful in treating skin itching caused due to allergy:
- Cold sponging or cold bath will help to reduce inflammation and skin itching. Cold sponging causes constriction of blood vessels and prevents the release of histamine.
- Oatmeal bath is effective in reducing skin itching. Add oatmeal to the bath water and soak in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Person must be careful while getting out from the bathtub because oatmeal becomes slippery and hence there is risk of slipping.
- Apply Witch Hazel as it helps in alleviating skin itching.
- Prepare a mixture of baking soda and water in a paste. Apply this paste over the area to stop itching and irritation.
- Apply calamine lotion on the body especially in case of allergy and itching from poison ivy or sumac. It can also be applied to other contact allergic dermatitis.