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What Causes Itching in a Burned Patient and How to Treat it (Part II)

Treatment may not stop itching completely but help in decreasing the severity of itching. Some patients may need more than one treatment option depending on the intensity of itching and the quality of life affected. Your treating physician or care provider will determine the best treatment for you.

Treatment may include:

1- Oral medications:

  • Oral antihistamines: these medications act by blocking the histamine receptors which trigger the itching cycle. They are available over the counter in different forms including syrups for children and tablets for adults. An e.g is Benadryl. Please contact your treating physician before using any over the counter medications for advice including dose and frequency.
  • Sleeping medicine: they may be used after consulting with the treating physician if itching disturbs sleeping.


2- Topical medications:

  • Emollients: which are used to moisturize the skin and decrease skin dryness as dryness aggravates itching. They should be applied regularly and after bathing. It is advised to use fragrance- free moisturizers as those containing perfumes may irritate the skin.
  • Topical Antihistamines: these medications block the effect of histamine which is one of the mediators of itching. They can be found over the counter such as Diphenydramine.

3- Cool baths or cold compresses: they can provide temporary relief as heat may aggravate itching. Excessive bathing should be avoided as it causes more skin dryness. Moisturizers should be applied after bathing to keep the skin moist.

4- Compression garments: they should be used 23 hours/day and may help with itching.

5- Gentle massage of the skin: massaging the skin may produce some relief.

6- Itching in children is more difficult to deal with. It may interfere with school as it makes it harder to concentrate. Cutting the finger nails short can help in reducing scratching; using distraction methods and activities can break the itch-scratch cycle such is watching television and playing games.

7- Using sunscreens and protective clothing when exposed to the sun and trying to avoid sun exposure during peak hours as heat exposure aggravates itching.

8- Using fragrance free detergents and moisturizers as perfumes may irritate the skin.

9- Avoiding skin dryness and excessive heat.


This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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