Imagine this: it’s your day off, and you want to relax. It’s a little chilly outside, and stepping into the shower - a searing, hot shower accompanied by your extensive self-care regimen, cocoa-scented candle, and once-in-a-while exfoliating ritual - is a compelling idea. You feel rejuvenated as you step out, and just like that, without warning, the itching kicks in. But you didn’t do anything wrong...or so you think? What’s causing the itchy skin after a shower? Is it an ingredient in one of the products you’re using - or is it the temperature of the water? It’s probably both. There are multiple factors that might be setting off a reaction of this nature. Let’s find out what’s going wrong.
- What’s causing this itchy sensation?
- What does seasonal change have to do with it?
- How to stop the skin from itching after a shower?
- Home remedies for itchy skin
- When to see a doctor
What’s causing this itchy sensation?
It’s possible that the soap you’re using is too harsh on your skin. Sometimes, they tend to strip away your skin’s natural oils and this can lead to dryness. And if you’ve not washed it off properly, the residue of the soap might irritate your skin. Ensure you’re scrutinising the ingredients of any product you’re purchasing, especially if your skin is dry, or prone to reactions and steer clear of scented soaps.
Eczema is a condition that causes inflammation, rashes, bumps, swelling, and itchiness on the skin. Showers might exacerbate the condition - hot water, soap, and scented products strip your skin of its natural oils. This makes eczema more itchy and painful than usual.
A lot of products can trigger allergic reactions on the skin. This is known as contact dermatitis. Fragrance is one of the most common ingredients to set off such a reaction. If your soap or scrub is infused with a scent, maybe that’s the culprit. Try switching to fragrance-free products.
If you use scented products on your towel, and your skin is allergic to them, you might find that your post-shower routine is the problem. When you’re drying your body, these scents can get transferred to the skin. You must use scent-free detergents, for instance, to wash your towels and clothes.
Xerosis is the medicinal name for dry skin. You might find that your skin feels dry during the winters. This is due to a drop in temperature and levels of humidity as well as relentless gusts of wind - there’s not much moisture in the air to hydrate your skin, and the amount of sebum (oil) produced by your sebaceous glands drops (this oil forms a protective barrier that moisturises your skin). Hot, long showers just intensify the issue, and strip your skin of its oils, and this leads to itchiness.
What does seasonal change have to do with it?
Seasonal changes can cause dryness and itchiness. During the winters, a drop in temperatures and humidity levels, accompanied by frequent gusts of wind, dries out the skin, and makes it itchy. This is known as the ‘winter rash’. Cold air, as we all know, has less moisture than warm air. And harsh winds strip the skin of its natural oils. This condition is worsened by long, frequent hot showers, and all the other factors listed above.
How to stop the skin from itching after a shower?
Moisturise your skin right after your shower. That’s exactly how you lock in all that moisture. This step in your self-care regimen works toward restoring your lipids - a part of the skin barrier - and promoting the regrowth of healthy bacteria. Don’t dry your body completely. Just pat it dry, and layer your skin with a moisturiser. The dampness of your skin allows for the moisture to be sealed in even more effectively than if it was dry.
Swap your scented products with fragrance-free ones
This includes your soaps, scrubs, lotions, detergents, and the rest of your products - especially if your skin is sensitive. Use fragrance-free and alcohol-free products instead.
Pat-dry your skin
Instead of towelling-off, try patting your skin dry. Rubbing your skin with a towel can wipe off all that moisture, and leave your skin itchy and irritated.
Take warm, short showers
Lukewarm water is always the way to go. Hot, long showers can rid your skin of crucial lipids and oils. Additionally, after your shower, the residual water on your skin evaporates, and sucks the moisture right out of your skin in the process. Cooler water, on the other hand, puts the moisture right back into your skin. While you’re at it, limit showering to once a day.
Home remedies for itchy skin
Apply an ice pack
An effective way to cool the itch is to press an ice pack against the affected area for about five minutes. Or try cooling your lotions and moisturisers in the refrigerator before application. This will reduce the flow of blood to the inflamed patch, and stall the progression of the inflammation. You can use a wet cloth in place of the pack too. Even a cold shower works.
We’re not referring to your everyday breakfast. Colloidal oatmeal, made by grinding oats into a fine powder, is touted for its ability to relieve dryness and itchiness. After all, it does contain antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Just dissolve some in bath water, and use the resulting solution on your skin during your shower. This concoction forms a protective barrier on your skin, prevents dirt from penetrating it, and seals in all that moisture.
Plant-based herbal remedies
Aloe Vera is sought after for its skincare benefits by most of us. It’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties can soothe inflammation, and reduce the appearance of rashes as well. You can look for over-the-counter gels that contain aloe vera - or even menthol, camphor, and calamine - to spot-treat itchy skin. Always do a patch-test before applying anything to your skin though.
Slater on some oils
Coconut oil and olive oil are effective remedies for itchy skin. The former hydrates, protects, and soothes a rash. The latter, apart from healing the rash, renews the skin as well - it’s used to treat contact dermatitis rashes in a lot of cases.
Buy a humidifier
A humidifier is the answer to all of your woes. Don’t mistake this appliance for a heater. A heater warms a room, but it also robs the surrounding air of moisture. A humidifier, though, rehydrates the air in your room, and your skin requires this moisture to combat dryness and itchiness.
When to see a doctor
If your itching persists, consult a dermatologist to find out why this is happening. It might be a symptom of an underlying condition like eczema, hives, psoriasis,or contact dermatitis. Itching has also been attributed to menopause; however, these cannot be treated by us. You must seek the assistance of a professional if the itching remains chronic. Ask yourself if the problem is interfering with your daily routine. Has it been over two weeks without relief? Is the itching accompanied by other factors like fever or weight loss? Are any self-care measures helping at all? These questions put into perspective the severity of the condition. Don’t ignore the issue - it might just worsen the condition. Once you have a diagnosis, you can work toward resolving the issue. So, make that appointment soon!
1) What can I drink to stop the itching?
Rehydrate yourself by drinking water. Water flushes out any toxins that cause itching, and hydrates your body as well as your skin.
2) Is Vaseline good for itchy skin?
You can use Vaseline to hydrate your dry skin, and alleviate any itchiness caused by it. It forms a barrier on your skin, and prevents loss of moisture. It can soothe conditions like eczema, reduce chafing, and support healing of the skin. Just layer your skin with a dollop of this jelly, and you’re good to go.
3) Can hot showers trigger allergies?
Hot showers can lead to itchiness. They cause mast cells to release their contents in the skin - these cells contain histamine. Histamine is known to trigger itchiness in the skin. They can lead to the formation of hives on the body too. These are classified as ‘heat hives’, and they’re an allergic reaction to the heat.
4) Why does my body itch after bathing with a sponge?
If you’re rubbing your skin too harshly with a sponge, you’re hurting yourself. Don’t use a sponge at all - especially if your skin is sensitive. A sponge is also a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. It’s not shocking that your skin develops a reaction to it.
5) Why do cold showers make me itchy?
Cool showers must remedy the itchiness - not cause it. If you find that your skin is particularly itchy after a cold shower, it’s possible that you have ‘cold urticaria’ - a reaction to the cold that manifests as hives, redness, and itching on the skin. You must schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.