Itching is a symptom of several conditions of the skin such as eczema, scabies, ringworm, allergies, etc. When the skin is inflamed, the nerves in it become hyperactive. This increases the irritation at the region, which we try to remove by itching. Several times itching is mild and the sensation goes away after a while. But if the itching is due to a skin disease, then it could become very severe, leading to bleeding, pus formation and further complications.
Most itching is caused in the body due to problems that are associated with the vata dosha, i.e. the dosha that governs the air element of the human body. This dosha is aggravated not just by the body itself, but also due to external factors such as climate. This is the reason why itching is more severe in the winter season than in the summer. At the same time, itching could be due to internal impurities in the blood, or due to the accumulation of bacteria on the skin. Thus, there are many internal as well as external factors that contribute to itching.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Itching
1. Babul (Acacia arabica)
The bark of the babul is effective in controlling skin problems. It is most beneficial in the treatment of itching caused due to eczema.
2. Butea (Butea monosperma)
The seeds of the butea have excellent effects in controlling itching caused due to a variety of skin diseases such as ringworm, scabies and eczema. It can also cure boils, pimples and swellings that itch. For better results, these seeds are ground and mixed with lemon juice and used as an external application on the affected part.
3. Cassia (Cassia fistula)
Cassia leaves are used for treating all kinds of irritations of the skin. In case of severe itches from ringworm, its juice or paste is applied as a dressing on the affected part.
4. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Holy basil leaves are very effective in the treatment of itching due to ringworm. Its properties have also been found in other kinds of itching.
5. Linseed (Linum usitassimum)
Linseed is a good household remedy for itching. A hot poultice of its seeds is applied on the affected part.
6. Madhuca (Madhuca indica)
Madhuca is an indigenous Indian herb that has been traditionally used for the cure of itching. It is used in various forms for the treatment. A paste of its bark can be applied to the affected region. Alternatively, the oil of its leaves can also be applied. If the itching is due to eczema, then the leaves are smeared with sesame oil and are used as a bandage on the affected region. The bandage needs to be changed after every three to four hours.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Itching
There are no specific dietary indications for controlling itching. However, oily foods must be avoided. Spicy foods and salt are also not good for itchy skin.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Itching
First and foremost, the cause of the itching must be ascertained. Without knowing this, no treatment would be efficient. Based on the cause, the following Ayurvedic medicines can be prescribed:-
1. Seasonal rashes and prickly heats are due to pitta constitution of the body. This can be treated using Pravala pishti in small doses.
2. If the itching is due to eczema, then Ayurvedic doctors will prescribe Paradadi balm to be applied locally on the skin. For severe eczema, there is Rasa manikya that can be used. Shuddha gandhaka is an internal medicine complementary with the external agents.
3. For ringworm treatment, Paradadi balm is applied locally. Instead Dadrughna lepa can also be used. Shuddha gandhaka is used for internal administration.
(4) Home Remedies for Itching
a. Boil about 25 grams of babul and mango barks each in one liter of water. Allow a fomentation of these vapors directly onto the affected part of the skin. When the fomentation is done, dab the region with ghee. The itchiness will slowly disappear.
b. Mix linseed oil in equal parts of lemon juice. Apply this on the region where itching is severe. This remedy works for treating almost all types of itching.
c. Mix the juice of a fresh coconut and a tomato. Massage this on the itchy region. The itchiness will fade away.
d. If the itchiness is spreading all over the body, then you may try out the following recipe. Mix some ground red gram (arhar ki daal) in curds. Apply this on the skin for three to four days. The itching will stop spreading and will slowly disappear within a few days.
e. Grind sandalwood and black pepper to a fine paste. Mix them in ghee. Apply them with a rough cloth onto the itchy skin. Then expose the skin to sunlight. This is a quick method for reducing the itching sensation, but it may be a temporary relief.
f. Simply applying the juices of the root of bitter gourd (karela) on the skin also relieves itching to a great extent.
g. Itching that is caused due to dryness of the skin can be reduced by applying the cream of milk onto the whole skin and massaging it. This acts like a natural moisturizer for the skin.