We spent over 36 hours researching and testing 15 different types of anti-itch creams and found that immediate effectiveness, results, and cost were the most important factors for consumers who were shopping for anti-itch creams. Puriya Cream For Severely Dry, Itchy, or Irritated Skin scored high marks over all the other creams and is our overall top pick. This hydrating cream does a lot more than just stopping the itch it heals the skin as well and reduces the pain that dry, cracked, itchy skin can cause. It comes with a 180 money back guarantee when you contact the company directly.
Anti-Itch Cream Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing the right product to take care of your skin’s itching, the first step is to know what is causing the itching and rashes on your skin. Itching can be caused by any number of things including rash-causing plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac; bug bites, sunburn, eczema, allergic reactions and dry skin.
Once you understand what is causing your itching and skin problems you will be better equipped to find the right anti-itch cream that will take care of the problem and restore healthy skin. Itching is a very common reason for people to visit a dermatologist but since there is so many different things that can cause it; it can be really difficult to find the reason.
If it is just dry skin that is the cause of your itching, make sure you switch to soaps and laundry detergents that are fragrance-free, unscented, and that don’t contain other potential skin irritants. Doing this in conjunction with using a quality, proven anti-itch cream will get rid of the itching while giving your skin a chance to heal.
The information in this buying guide will help you sort through the different products on the market, describe the common ingredients that are used in these anti-itch products and help you find a solution that will provide fast relief and healing of your skin rashes and itching.
Common Ingredients used in Anti-Itch Creams
There are dozens of over the counter anti-itch creams available for you to choose from. With all of these choices, trying to decide which one to use can feel like a huge guessing game. There are many products that are high quality and work very well and there are others that don’t offer much at all in the way of relief or healing. There are certain active ingredients that you want to look for in an anti-itch cream. We have listed some of the most common ingredients in these creams along with some information about what they do.
Hydrocortisone – This is one of the most common ingredients in many anti-itch creams. Most have 1% strength which reduces inflammation and eases your itching. Many of the commonly known names like Cortisone 10, Aveeno, and generic brands contain this ingredient. This is a good choice if lotion is not easing the itch and reducing inflammation and rashes. Nickel allergies typically respond well to Hydrocortisone as well. It can even help eczema and psoriasis sufferers. Don’t use hydrocortisone for longer than two weeks at a stretch. If you use it too long and too often it can thin the skin making your skin susceptible to bruising and increased itching. If the rashes cover a large area, hydrocortisone may not be the best choice. You also should not use this ingredient for itching in the groin or vaginal area or around your toes. This type of itching can typically be caused by a fungal infection and hydrocortisone can make it worse.
Calamine – Calamine lotion has been around for decades as an anti-itch remedy for people suffering from poison ivy, oak, sumac, or a variety of bug bites. This ingredient is found in products including Caladryl and generic formulas too. The mixture of ferric oxide and zinc oxide is a good solution for relieving the itching and rashes that can occur from these poisonous plants and bites. Calamine is a pale pink liquid that should be shaken in the bottle before applied with a cotton ball. The liquid dries and can be reapplied as often as necessary. It will dry the area out so beware of using it too much as it can over-dry the area.
Diphenhydramine – Creams, sprays, and gels that contain this popular antihistamine blocks the histamine that is in the skin causing itching and inflammation. Benadryl is probably one of the most popular forms of Diphenhydramine but there are others as well including generics, both topical and oral. The topical version of Diphenhydramine can be a solution that provides short-term relief that is related to things like hives and bites but since some people can be allergic to this ingredient you should try it on a small spot first to see if there is any adverse reaction to it. Taking Diphenhydramine orally can result in sleepiness so it is not recommended to take it and then drive or operate any kind of machinery.
Praxomine – This ingredient has mild anesthetic properties and is frequently add to many anti-itch creams that contain hydrocortisone or other active anti-itch ingredients. It is often the ingredient of choice for anal itching specifically as well as other general anti-0itch products. It can be very effective for relieving the itching associated with poison oak, ivy, sumac, insect bites of all kinds and even for hemorrhoids.
Menthol – Menthol is a minty type ingredient that is found in some anti-itch products like Eucerin’s Calming Itch Relief Treatment. It works by activating the nerves that send icy, cool sensations to your brain which takes the attention off the itching. Menthol is an ingredient that can work very well but it doesn’t always work for everyone. If you notice that cold compresses relieve the itch, a product that contains menthol could provide a lot of relief for you. Anti-itch products that contain camphor or eucalyptus can also have the same cooling relief effects but be aware of an increase in itching with these ingredients.
Information on Topical Steroids
For most people, a topical steroid cream that contains Hydrocortisone is the most popular choice for dealing with itching and rashes. Remember that creams and thick ointments will be the strongest and sprays and gels are the weakest.
Be aware that using steroid creams should be used with care and preferably under the instruction and care of your doctor. Topical steroids can have some side effects although they are less problematic than the side effects from oral steroids. If you use them according to the package instructions and only for a short time, the topical steroid creams should not be a problem.
One of the most important elements of a steroid cream that determines how well it works is how well it is absorbed into your skin. There are several things that will dictate how well the cream is absorbed. We’ve listed these factors below.
- How thick the skin is – The palms and soles of the feet have the thickest skin so steroids are not absorbed there as easily as they would be where the skin is thin such as the eyelids.
- How strong the steroid cream is – Prescription steroid creams will have a higher potency than otc creams. Look for the highest level you can get but follow the directions precisely.
- How often product is applied – If you are supposed to apply the cream often this will add more of the steroid into your system.
- The type of product it is – ointments and creams will usually work better than gels or sprays.
Keep in mind that if you are looking for a product to use on your kids, you should get input from their doctor, especially if you want to use a topical steroid. Children are more susceptible to the negative effects of topical steroids than adults so use weaker concentrations like gels and sprays if you need to use them on children.
They make products for children that have rashes, but you have to be sure what you are dealing with. Rashes from poison ivy, oak, and sumac are common in children that love playing outdoors a lot. Most don’t realize they are in a dangerous area until it is too late. (you can teach even a young child how to recognize poisonous plants, so keep this in mind. Prevention is a lot better than having to correct the problem after they have already been affected by the plants)
If you have any questions about the rash or itching your child is doing there is no harm in calling the pediatrician to double check. They may want to see the child just in case, but it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to little ones.
Going to the Doctor
There are times when it is a better idea to go to the doctor than to try and self-medicate, even with topical products. If you have received no relief after several days of using over-the-counter anti-itch creams you should make an appointment with your doctor. You shouldn’t wait if the problem seems severe or gets worse after 24 or 48 hours.
Some rashes and itchiness can be caused by fungal infections which will not be helped or cured by anti-itch creams. The main thing to look for is improvement in the rashes so you can get some relief. If what you are trying at home isn’t working, don’t wait too long to get it looked at.
It is not always necessary to go to the doctor when you are dealing with skin problems that cause itching or rashes. There are dozens of anti-itch products on the market, a large amount of them creams that are designed to reduce inflammation and get rid of the itching so you get relief.
The three top-rated anti-itch creams we have reviewed above are all excellent products that work well for itching and rashes that are caused from allergic reactions, bug bites, poisonous plants that cause itching (sumac, oak, and ivy) and other skin conditions.
Any one of them will be a great place to start working on healing your skin and getting some relief from itching and discomfort. Use the information we have provided in the buying guide to sort through the different choices (if one of the top rated selections are not what you want) and find the best product for your specific skin problems.
No one should have to suffer with intense itching and skin problems when there are great anti-itch products available that can help get rid of it.