Itchy skin can be a nightmare, which is why you need a good anti-itch cream at the ready. No matter if it's from a nasty mosquito bite, a brush with poison ivy, or the result of eczema, itchiness is not just annoying—it can also be very difficult to manage. And with fall right around the corner, the cool weather can be another massive trigger for itchy and dry skin. But thankfully, with the right anti-itch cream, you can get quick relief.
Best anti-itch creams for every skin condition at a glance
- Best hydrocortisone cream: Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength Ointment, $7
- Best cream with menthol: Sarna Original Anti-Itch Lotion, $33
- Best moisturizing cream: CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream, $19
- Best anti-histamine cream: Benadryl Extra Strength Anti-Itch Gel, $7
- Best eczema lotion: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream, $20
- Best cream with colloidal oatmeal: Gold Bond Eczema Relief Cream, $26
- Best healing eczema lotion: Cortizone 10 Intensive Healing Eczema Lotion, $10
- Best balancing eczema lotion: Curél Itch Defense Calming Body Lotion, $9
If you're hoping to alleviate the itchiness, it's important to note that not all anti-itch creams work the same way, and nor do they have the same effect on skin. For example, what may work as a home remedy for bug bites may not have the same effect on eczema. So, in order to decide what's the best anti-itch cream for your skin condition, you should know what's causing your scratching in the first place.
What causes my skin to get so itchy?
Skin can get itchy from various causes. You could have an allergic reaction to food, a bug bite, or ingredients in products that touch your skin (makeup, lotion, laundry detergent). Or you may have a skin condition like dry skin or eczema that flares up under certain conditions.
"The key is to understand what's the source of the itches because that's what's really going to help to mitigate that," says Dr. Mona Gohara, a board certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. "If it's a bug bite, then a Cortisone-10 cream will be fine. But if you have a rash, like eczema, that's really itchy, and you're putting on a menthol-based anti-itch cream, you're just going to stoke the fire."
What ingredients should you look for in an anti-itch cream?
Among some popular ingredients include hydrocortisone, pramoxine, menthol, or colloidal oatmeal.
- Hydrocortisone is a steroid that helps calm your skin's response to itching. It also has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great active ingredient for helping with itchy skin across the board.
- Pramoxine is a great alternative if you would rather not use a steroid. It's a compound that helps reduce the pain and sensation of itching.
- Menthol, another steroid alternative, is a compound that provides a cooling sensation that also tricks your brain into not focusing on the itch, according to Dr. Cybele Fishman M.D., a board certified dermatologist at Integrative Dermatology.
- Colloidal oatmeal may help relieve irritated skin for those with eczema, says Dr. Fishman.
As a word of caution, anyone who is experiencing itchy skin when they're pregnant, it's wise to check with your doctor to see if an anti-cream is truly what you need. Depending on the person, continuous itching during pregnancy could indicate a larger health problem, Gohara notes. The same goes for non-pregnant folks, too—continuous itching may be a symptom of something more serious, so it's a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider if you're concerned. We also advocate for seeking medical attention if your itching may be the result of a serious allergy or reaction—better safe than sorry.
For those looking for ways to help manage the constant scratching, take a look at some of the best anti-itch creams available on the internet.
Best anti-itch creams for bug bites
Made with one percent hydrocortisone, this Cortizone 10 cream is a great defense against irritation from bug bites, poison ivy and dry skin. It works by locking in moisture and using a topical hydrocortisone as an intense balm to soothe away your pain and itchy sensations.
If you’re not comfortable with a using a steroid-based cream, this Sarna Anti-Itch lotion can be the next best thing to try. It uses menthol and camphor ingredients, which work together to help hydrate dry skin and calm inflammation. It’s perfect to use to relieve your sunburns, insect bites, as well as super parched skin.
Another derm-approved option free of steroids is this CeraVe moisturizing cream. Its active ingredients include pramoxine hydrochloride and hyaluronic acid to help pack in your skin’s moisture and soothe your daily itching. Additionally, the cream is non-comedogenic (aka, it won’t clog your pores) and great for normal to oily skin types. As a bonus, 100 percent of people who tested the product in clinical trials experienced quick relief within a single day of wearing it.
Made with two percent diphenhydramine, this anti-itch gel cream is an anti-histamine. That means it works by blocking the histamine, or signal, that triggers that immediate irritation from bug bites, sunburns, cuts and other minor skin issues.
Best anti-itch creams for eczema
Not only does this eczema lotion have Fishman’s approval, but is also has the official National Eczema Association Seal of Approval for treating irritated and sensitive skin. Its magic ingredient includes colloidal oatmeal, which is an ultra-nourishing grain that helps strengthen your skin’s barrier and prevent further dry skin. It also acts as a powerful emollient for healing your skin and keeping it incredibly hydrated.
For rashes and other problematic skin issues related to eczema, this Gold Bond cream is the perfect secret weapon to keep in your medicine cabinet. It contains a blend of colloidal oatmeal and several vitamins to help relieve the itching, peeling, redness and flakiness and the other painful symptoms of eczema. And thanks to its moisturizing formula, you can help your skin recover quickly and protect it from irritation becoming worse.
Made with vitamins A, C, E, this anti-itch cream is packed with a slew of nourishing ingredients to help your skin stay smooth and moist. It specifically helps target itchy and dry skin triggered by eczema. And similar to the regular steroid-based Cortizone 10 cream listed above, this one is designed to provide fast-acting and long-lasting relief. Just be careful to apply it no more than three to four times a day to get the best results.
For one of the best defenses against eczema symptoms, Curél body lotion is here to rescue. It’s supposed to help balance your skin’s moisture levels, in addition to stopping your itchy skin in its tracks. The lotion helps replenish your ceramides and increase your skin’s overall hydration. Not to mention, it’s also gentle enough to use on babies of six months and up.
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