Itch is a sensation that causes the desire or reflex to scratch. In some cases this sensation is harmless; however, it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
The red, itchy bumps on skin can result due to a number of conditions.
They may arise due to the following main reasons:
1. Skin Conditions
The five main skin conditions that can cause itchy, red bumps are as follows:
- Dry Skin
- Atopic Eczema
- Contact Dermatitis
- Urticaria (Hives)
2. Skin Reactions
The two main skin reactions that cause itching are as follows:
- Prickly Heat
3. Parasites And Insects
The most common parasites and insects that cause itchy skin are as follows:
- Head Lice
- Insect bites or stings from bees, wasps, mosquitoes etc.
The most common skin Infections that cause itchy, red bumps are as follows:
- Athlete’s Foot
Let’s examine each condition in detail and find out how to treat them at home.
1. Dry Skin
Dry skin is usually defined as scaling or flaking which may or may not cause itching. Most times, the skin feels rough and scaly and is accompanied by itchiness. In severe cases, dry skin can itch, flake, crack, and even bleed.
To heal dry skin and prevent its return, you can take care of the following.1
- Take Care Of Your Showering Routine – If you have dry skin, limit your bath time to five or ten minutes. Consider using warm water rather than hot water. Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but do not overdo it and form a thick lather. Blot your skin gently dry with a towel.
- Apply Moisturizer After Wash – Ointments and creams work by locking the existing moisture in your skin. Look for a cream or ointment that contains oils like olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter is also recommended.
- Use Gentle, Unscented Skin Care Products – Some skin products may be too harsh on dry, sensitive skin. If you have dry skin, consider avoiding deodorant soaps and skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Avoiding these will help retain natural oils.
- Wear Gloves – Your hands are the first place you notice dry, rough skin. Consider wearing gloves before going out in winter, performing tasks that require you to wet your hands, and using chemicals or any other substances that may cause irritation.
- Choose Appropriate Clothes And Laundry Detergent – When the skin is dry, even clothes and laundry detergents can be irritating. In order to avoid this, consider wearing cotton under your woolen materials or other rough fabric. Also consider using detergents that have the label “hypoallergenic.”
- Stay Warm And Avoid Direct Heat Sources – Sitting in front of a fireplace or any other heat source will cause your skin to be more dry.
Your skin is sensitive when it is dry. If the following methods do not change the way your skin feels, it is important to visit a dermatologist and follow the necessary steps prescribed.
2. Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema which is most commonly seen in children. The symptoms arise before their first birthday; however, adults can also be affected by atopic eczema. This condition causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry, and cracked.
There is no cure for atopic eczema, but the symptoms may improve with time.
The following should be followed if you want to avoid irritation caused due to eczema.2
- Reduce Damage From Scratching – Eczema is often itchy and can result in further damage to the skin. Try to avoid scratching; instead gently rub your fingers on your skin. Keep your fingernails short and clean so that you can minimize the damage caused to your skin due to unintentional scratching. If your baby has atopic eczema, anti-scratch mittens may stop them from scratching their skin.
- Avoid Triggers – Certain fabrics may irritate your skin. This can trigger itching and can damage your skin further. Consider wearing light, soft clothing such as cotton clothes. If heat aggravates your eczema, consider keeping your rooms cool especially the bedroom. Try avoiding soaps and detergents that may affect the skin. Use soap substitutes instead.
- Make Dietary Changes – Some foods such as cow’s milk and eggs can trigger eczema. You may want to keep in mind that making dietary changes should be carefully done only after speaking or consulting a general practitioner. These foods are important, especially growing children, these foods contain calcium, calories, and protein. If you are breastfeeding your baby with atopic eczema, get medical advice before making dietary changes.
- Use Emollients And Topical Corticosteroids – Emollients are moisturizing treatments applied directly to your skin to reduce water loss and cover it with a protective film. In addition to making the skin feel less dry, they may also have mild anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the number of flare-ups. Also, keep in mind not to rub the emollient on your skin. Gently smooth it into the skin in the same direction the hair grows. Corticosteroids will be prescribed by your general practitioner if you have inflamed skin. Depending on the severity of your eczema, corticosteroids with different strengths may be applied – very mild, moderate, or strong. Ideally, apply the emollient first and wait until it is absorbed by the skin. After about 30 minutes or after absorption, the corticosteroid may be applied.
3. Contact Dermatitis
This type of eczema is caused when the skin comes in contact with some specific substance. The skin becomes red, blistered, dry, and cracked. This reaction on the skin is usually observed after hours or a few days of exposure to an irritant or allergen.
An irritant is a substance that irritates the outer layer of the skin. This includes soaps, detergents, cement, powders, dust, and soil. An allergen is a substance that causes the immune system to respond in a way that affects the skin. Allergens include cosmetic ingredients like hair dye and nail varnish hardeners, metals like nickel or cobalt, rubber including latex, and some plants like sunflowers, daffodils, and tulips.
Treating contact dermatitis is important. The following should be followed to treat this condition.3
- Identify The Allergen – One of the most important steps in treating contact dermatitis is identifying and avoiding the allergen or irritant that causes the adverse effect on your skin.
- Use Emollients – Using emollients and topical corticosteroids (as mentioned for atopic eczema) may also help in treating contact dermatitis.
4. Urticaria (Hives)
This skin condition is also known as hives, weals, welts, or nettle rash. They appear as brazen reddish bumps all over the body. This skin condition usually occurs when there is a trigger causing high histamine levels and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin.
The following may be considered to treat hives.4
- Aloe Vera – Applying aloe vera skin gels on the skin affected by hives may ease the pain and itchiness.
- Sandalwood Oil – Rubbing sandalwood oil on hives following every three to four hours may provide immediate relief.
- Mustard Oil – Applying mustard oil will reduce inflammation and puffing up of the skin caused due to hives.
- Baking Soda – Mix sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, and a few drops of water. Apply this paste over the affected areas. This will ease the inflammation and itching.
- Cold Compress – Rub ice or a cold compress to the infected skin. This offers immediate relief from itching. In addition, taking cold water bath is also recommended. Cooling blocks the release of histamine in the blood.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. People with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells. The usually appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. However, these can appear anywhere on the body.
Treating psoriasis may not cure it but it will definitely keep it under control. Some of the home remedies you can try are mentioned below.5
- Water Therapy – The simplest remedy to treat psoriasis involves a mixture of water and sea salts, producing a powerful remedy. The bokek dead-sea salt bath is highly recommended as they have a cleansing property and cleans the skin pores while detoxifying the body.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – When apple cider vinegar is diluted in water, it can provide relief from the scaling and itching associated with psoriasis.
- Cayenne Pepper – This home remedy has anti-inflammatory properties that is believed to even cure this skin condition.
- Milk Thistle – This remedy helps to reduce the rate of cell replication due to psoriasis. Take about 300 mg of milk-thistle extract thrice a day.
Itching may also be caused due to environmental factors. Two important skin reactions that cause itching include prickly heat rash and sunburn.
1. Prickly Heat
Prickly heat, also known as miliaria rubra, is an itchy rash of small, raised red spots that causes a stinging or prickling sensation on the skin.6 The prickly heat rash is made up of tiny spots or bumps that may cause mild swelling, itching, and a stinging sensation.
This rash usually occurs when an individual sweat more than usual, such as during a hot or humid weather. Excessive sweating can result in sweat becoming trapped beneath your skin. The trapped sweat causes skin irritation and the characteristic heat rash.
The symptoms of prickly heat are usually worse in areas that are covered by clothing. This is because clothing can make you sweat and sometimes causes friction (rubbing).
Here are some ways to treat prickly heat rashes at home.7
- Keep Cool – If the areas affected by the prickly heat rash are kept cool and dry, the rash usually disappears on its own.
- Avoid Exercise – It is best to avoid exercise and other tasks that will make you sweat when you have a prickly heat rash.
- Use Oatmeal Baths – Colloidal oatmeal baths can help you reduce scratching.
- Apply Baby Powder – Using baby powder or other drying agents in those areas that are prone to rub together may help in reducing the rashes.
- Use Heat Rash Sprays – Heat rash sprays that contain ingredients like witch hazel, lavender, and eucalyptus may also help in treating prickly heat rashes.
Sunburn is caused when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. It usually causes the skin to become red, sore, warm, tender, and sometimes itchy for about a week. The skin will normally start to flake and peel after a few days and will usually fully heal within seven days.8
Here are a few topical remedies to treat sunburns at home.9
- Aloe Vera – Apply aloe vera cream to the site of the burn.
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is also effective in soothing sunburned skin.
- Cool Milk – Take a gauze pad dipped in cool milk (cow’s milk or goat’s milk) and place it directly on the sunburned area. If you do not have milk, you can use a cloth dipped in cold water.
- Fresh Cream – Apply a little fresh cream (from milk) on the affected area.
- Ice – Consider placing an icebag or a bag of frozen food (corn, peas) to the sunburned area. Please do not leave ice touching your skin for one or two minutes without a break.
Parasites And Insects
Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the top layer of the skin. The main symptom of scabies is itching that gets worse at night. Rashes are also seen in those areas where the mites have burrowed.
Scabies like warm places, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails, or around the buttock or breast creases. They can also hide under watch straps, bracelets or rings.
Scabies can be prevented by the application of a paste that can be made at home. You will require neem leaves, turmeric, green gram flour, and mustard oil to make this paste. This consists of one part neem leaves, one part turmeric, and eight parts of green gram flour and enough mustard oil to make a paste.10
Other home remedies to treat scabies are as follows:11
- Clean Laundry – All the clothes of a person suffering from scabies should be washed in hot water daily.
- Trim Nails – Nails of the infected individual should be trimmed.
- Use Neem – The areas of the body affected with scabies should be washed with hot water boiled with neem leaves. Use of neem soaps is preferred.
2. Head Lice
Head lice are tiny insects that live in your hair. Nits are the empty egg cases that head lice hatch from. This is often seen in school children between the ages four and eleven.
Head lice can cause itchy scalp. It can also cause rashes on the back of the neck.
Some home remedies to treat head lice are as follows:12
- Nitpicking And Combing – This is one of the most important steps to get rid of head lice. Comb your hair with a special comb (available in stores) as often as possible to remove lice and nits.
- Olive Oil – Oils are good lice remedies because they suffocate the adult lice.
- Vinegar And Lemon Juice – Using vinegar or lemon juice will dissolve the shells of the lice eggs and cause them to die. Make sure that a sufficient time gap is maintained before two consecutive applications of either vinegar or lemon juice.
- Cranberry Juice – During the week, every day, wet your hair with pure cranberry juice and leave it on until dry. Rinse your hair with water. This juice is good because it prevents the nits from sticking to the hair.
3. Insect Bites And Stings
Insect bites are usually not serious and they do disappear in a couple of hours or days. Bugs that bite or sting include wasps, hornets, bees, horseflies, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, spiders, and midges.
Some of the remedies to treat insect bites or stings are as follows:13
- Parsley Relief – Apply fresh crushed parsley directly to the bite. This will neutralize the poison and reduce the pain.
- Honeysuckle Relief – Rub the affected area with the juice of a honeysuckle vine.
- Ammonia Relief – Apply ammonia to the affected area. This will relieve itching immediately.
- Basil Relief – Crush fresh basil leaves and apply on the area that was bitten or stung. This will reduce the pain and swelling. This will also reduce the itching that begins when a sting is healing.
This is a common infections and more often seen in children. It causes itchy, spotty rashes on the body. Most children will catch this infection at some point. Some adults may also be affected by this infection if they haven’t had it in their childhood.
The most common symptom of chickenpox is a rash. This rash develops in three stages. Firstly, you will observe spots on the body. Next, these spots over the next few hours or the following day develop into blisters. Lastly, these blisters dry out and form crusts, gradually fall off in the long run.
You can get relief from chickenpox through home remedies that are safe and reliable. Some of them are as follows.14
- Baking Soda – The simplest remedy that will relieve the rashes is baking soda. It will reduce itching and the anti-inflammatory property will reduce any inflammation. Dissolve one tablespoon baking soda in one 8-ounce glass of water. Make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved. Apply the solution with the help of a sponge.
- Brown Vinegar – An alternative to baking soda is brown vinegar. It will stop the itching and soothe the skin. Add half a cup of vinegar to a tub filled with warm water and mix well. Soak in this water till you feel relief.
- Honey – Applying honey on the spots will make the healing faster and will also make the skin soft.
2. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is an infection caused due to a fungus that is present between the toes. The affected areas of the skin may be dry, red, scaly, flaky; white, soggy, and cracked; itchy, sore, and covered in blisters.
The fungi that cause the infection thrive in warm, dark and moist places like feet. You are likely to get this infection if you don’t keep your feet dry and clean.
Some of the home remedies that can help treat athlete’s foot include the following:15
- White Vinegar – Add a cup of white vinegar to water. Soak your feet in this for about 10 minutes. Dry your feet well after soaking. This can be done thrice a day.
- Salt Water – Soak your infected feet in a solution of warm water and salt. You will be able to observe positive results in two days.
- Garlic – Place slices of garlic on the inner soles of your shoes. Garlic is a good disinfectant and can kill the fungus.
Ringworm is a common fungal infection that can cause a red or silvery ring-like rash on the skin.
Ringworm commonly affects arms and legs, but it can appear almost anywhere on the body. Despite its name, ringworm doesn’t have anything to do with worms.16
The following are some of the home remedies to treat ringworm:17
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is an all organic treatment for ringworm. Apply the aloe vera gel directly on the affected skin. Leave it on overnight and clean it the following day.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – This vinegar has natural antifungal abilities that can kill the ringworm infection. Apply the apple cider vinegar directly to the skin with a cotton ball.
- Olive Leaf – Olive leaves have antifungal properties and also helps in improving the immune system. Eat the leaf three times every day until the trouble subsides.
Besides the mentioned conditions, there are several more causes of red, itchy bumps on our body.
|↑1||Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑2||Atopic eczema – Treatment. National Health Service (NHS) Choices.|
|↑3||Contact dermatitis – Treatment. National Health Service (NHS) Choices.|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑12, ↑15, ↑17||Billings, Samuel. The Big Book of Home Remedies. 2013.|
|↑6||Prickly heat. National Health Service (NHS) Choices.|
|↑7||Garrett Jeff. Dr. Prepper: The Disaster Preparedness Guide to Home Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.|
|↑8||Sunburn. National Health Service (NHS) Choices.|
|↑9||Lad, Vasant. The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies. Harmony, 1999.|
|↑10, ↑11||Babu, S. Suresh. A treatise on home remedies. Pustak Mahal, 2000.|
|↑13||Jude, Todd C. Herbal Home Remedies. B. Jain Publishers, 2002.|
|↑14||Niekerk, GJ van. An Essential Collection of Home Remedies and Recipes. 2015.|
|↑16||Ringworm and other fungal infections. National Health Service (NHS) Choices.|