Q:

How can itchy skin rashes be self-medicated?

A:

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Using rich moisturizing creams to hydrate the skin, trying nonprescription cortisone cream or calamine lotion, taking lukewarm baths and applying cool compresses to the skin are self-care measures that can treat an itchy rash, according to Mayo Clinic. Using mild soaps and detergents for cleaning also can reduce skin irritation.

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Avoiding common irritants, such as nickel in jewelry or artificial fragrances, can also quell itchy skin, notes Mayo Clinic. Easing further skin irritation by wearing smooth-textured, natural fiber clothing may also be helpful. Clothing should be loose for the most comfort.

Nonprescription first generation oral antihistamines such as Benadryl or Chlor-trimeton also reduce itchiness, especially when it interferes with sleep, according to MedicineNet.com. They cause drowsiness, so individuals should use caution when driving, operating machinery or doing anything requiring alertness. Second generation antihistamines don't cause the same drowsiness, but they may not be as effective against itch.

Though most itchy skin rashes are self-limiting conditions that don't require a doctor's care, there are several signs that indicate medical care may be necessary, explains Mayo Clinic. Rashes that last longer than two weeks despite self-care treatments, rashes that affect large areas of the body or rashes that don't have an obvious cause should be evaluated by a doctor. Additionally if the itching is causing sleep disruptions or is accompanied by systemic symptoms such as fever, night sweats, fatigue or changes in bowel or bladder habits, a doctor should be consulted at once.

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