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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Antipruritics, also known as anti-itch drugs, are medications that inhibit the itching (Latin: pruritus) that is often associated with sunburns, allergic reactions, eczema, psoriasis, chickenpox, fungal infections, insect bites and stings like those from mosquitoes, fleas, and mites, and contact dermatitis and urticaria caused by plants such as poison ivy (urushiol-induced contact dermatitis) or stinging nettle.

Common antipruritics

Topical antipruritics in the form of creams and sprays are often available over-the-counter. Oral (by-mouth) anti-itch drugs also exist and are usually prescription drugs. The active ingredients usually belong to the following classes:

Disputed and questionable antipruritics

Home remedies

  • Cooling with ice or cold water
  • Heat, for example by a hot shower. Dabbing with a cloth dipped in boiling water can be very effective, as it causes the cells to release all their histamine.
  • Soft rubbing, which activates fast-conducting, low-threshold neurons
  • Slightly painful stimulation like scratching, based on a spinal antagonism between pain- and itch-processing neurons
  • Mixture of Rose water and starch can have an itch-calming effect


  1. Hercogová J (2005). "Topical anti-itch therapy". Dermatologic therapy. 18 (4): 341–3. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8019.2005.00033.x. PMID 16297007.
  2. x"American Topics. An Outdated Notion, That Calamine Lotion". Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  3. Appel, L.M. Ohmart and R.F. Sterner, Zinc oxide: A new, pink, refractive microform crystal. AMA Arch Dermatol 73 (1956), pp. 316–324. PMID 13301048
  4. D. Long, N. H. Ballentine, J. G. Marks. Treatment of poison ivy/oak allergic contact dermatitis with an extract of jewelweed. Am. J. Contact. Dermat. 8(3):150-3 1997 PMID 9249283
  5. M. R. Gibson, F. T. Maher. Activity of jewelweed and its enzymes in the treatment of Rhus dermatitis. J. Am. Pharm. Assoc. Am. Pharm. Assoc. 39(5):294-6 1950 PMID 15421925
  6. J. D. Guin, R. Reynolds. Jewelweed treatment of poison ivy dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis 6(4):287-8 1980 PMID 6447037
  7. B. J. Zink, E. J. Otten, M. Rosenthal, B. Singal. The effect of jewel weed in preventing poison ivy dermatitis. Journal of Wilderness Medicine 2(3):178–182 1991 online
  8. Lee CS, Koo J (2005). "Psychopharmacologic therapies in dermatology: an update". Dermatologic clinics. 23 (4): 735–44. doi:10.1016/j.det.2005.05.015. PMID 16112451.

External links

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