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Heat and Humidity Make Skin Itch

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Most people think of dandruff and its flakes as a winter-time problem. Cold air and central heating are thought to dry out the skin and make the scalp flake.

But skin problems are not restricted to cold weather. This time of year, heat and humidity can also cause itchy scalp and all kinds of other irritating skin conditions. Seborrheic dermatitis, jock itch and athlete's foot can all be bothersome when the temperature and humidity go through the roof.

What all these skin problems have in common is yeast. Most of the time, we live in harmony with a fungal organism called Malassezia. When it gets out of control or our immune systems react badly to it, the result can be itching, redness and inflammation.

Making the skin less hospitable for this yeast seems to help control the inflammation. Dermatologists frequently prescribe anti-fungal shampoos and creams (New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 22, 2009). An over-the-counter product called Nizoral A-D shampoo contains ketoconazole and can be helpful for many people. There are also prescription-strength topical anti-fungal agents such as ciclopirox shampoo that can be effective.

Selenium sulfide shampoo (Selsun Blue), commonly marketed for dandruff, can also help to control redness and itching from yeast infections.

Despite the research backing these medications, people are not always satisfied with the results. Some turn to home remedies to ease their symptoms. There are no scientific studies to demonstrate that these approaches are effective, but many readers have found them helpful against itching and redness.

One of the most popular is old-fashioned amber Listerine. Many decades ago it was marketed for dandruff, but the FDA no longer permits that. The herbal oils in Listerine have anti-fungal action, though, and some people use Listerine to rinse an itchy scalp. Others apply it to the face for seborrheic dermatitis or to skin folds to relieve jock itch or other yeast infections.

One reader shared this story: "I was in Marine Corps boot camp and developed a bad case of jock itch. My drill instructor, although an extremely harsh and seemingly uncaring guy, had warned us all of this possibility and suggested using Listerine.

"It worked beautifully, and the rash cleared up in just two days. Old-fashioned amber Listerine does burn a bit going on, but it works well. It is also good for athlete's foot." Many others agree that soaking feet in Listerine or a combination of Listerine and white vinegar discourages athlete's foot and toenail fungus.

Vicks VapoRub contains some of the same ingredients found in Listerine. When dabbed on itchy spots on the face, it may bring relief. So can Noxzema cleanser, which contains camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil.

Another remedy for dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis is milk of magnesia applied directly to the face or scalp. This too may help control fungus.

For more suggestions on dealing with dandruff, nail fungus and seborrheic dermatitis, we offer our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

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10 Comments

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Skin tags have been driving me crazy all summer. They are irritating and make this heat miserable! Do you have a home cure for them other than cutting them off?
Thanks,
Millie

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE REPORTED THAT KEEPING LIQUID BANDAGE ON THEM MAKES THEM SHRIVEL IN DAYS TO WEEKS.

I think someone said that vicks vaporub helped with that. If you check the list of topics you can probably find something.

I had a severe case of athlete's foot with cracked heels and a toe nail fungus. My Doc told me to use Vick's Vapor Rub and I thought he was crazy but it works!! I slathered it on nightly and put on sock's in about a week I noticed the itch was gone and my calluses where softening up. In about 3 week's it was complete cured. My fungus nail was growing out nice and my feet where nice and smooth. If you can stand the smell and people asking you if your have a cold LOL it really is the best thing I have found (many years of searching)!!

I want to try the Listerine for the seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp. But I want clarification--do I need to rinse as part of regular shampooing routine, or use it in the evening for overnight? If I do a rinse, how long do you recommend I leave it on, and will there be any side effects like extra hair loss, etc? Same questions for the MoM. Do I put it on at night and wash away in the morning when shampooing my hair?

Thanks!
Rachele

People's Pharmacy response: Rinse as part of your shampoo routine. Leave it on at least 5 minutes, then you can rinse it out. We've not heard of hair loss resulting from Listerine.

For the MoM, apply it to the skin in the evening and wash it off in the morning.

I want to find out more about Listerine for seborrheic dermatitis on scalp and some on forehead. My brother is suffering this condition. Like Rachel C was asking, I'd like to get how long and how to apply amber Listerine. Thank you!

Has anyone ever become allergic to the Sun, I have and now I can't go out in the sun without burning. It looks just like a sunburn but it itches and hurts. I think one of my medicines may have caused it, but the pharmacist said he doesn't think so. I could use some help.

People's Pharmacy response: There are quite a few medicines that can contribute to sun sensitivity.

I have very itchy skin I itch at night and during the day. I have itches so bad that I have sores and scabs all over my arms and neck areas. Is this a blood or reaction of some kind or just nerves? Thank you Kathy

1.Are you sensitive or allergic to (cloths) washing soap or some other product?? you should check for allergies. 2. may be is a medicine you are taking (that happened to me with a drug I was taking and I was allergic to).

If Listerine doesn't work for seborrheic dermatitis, you might try cornstarch. I actually am using cornstarch with aloe, a baby powder. Went to three doctors, first two diagnosed as tinea (jock itch). Dermatologist diagnosed seb derm. Went thru many doctor visits, shots, hundreds of dollars worth of medication like Nizoral, Desodine, ad infinitum.....and that was hundreds of dollars worth of medicine paying my 20%...insurance company was paying 80%

My seb derm was in groin, front of legs, back of legs, buttocks. Had it for over a year and it would heal up for a day, then come back with a vengeance

My guess is cornstarch dries everything up. I must sweat more than most people in the groin buttocks area. After four days, seb derm is almost 100% gone and has been gone since day 2. I am amazed at the results of baby powder (which is almost 100% cornstarch, at least the one I bought)

Baby powder (talcum powder) cleared up the seborrheic dermatitis on my face in a couple of weeks. I had it for years, tried everything, would never go away for more than a day. Talc did the trick.

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