a shower head spraying hot water

Q. Let me add to a recent article describing the benefits of applying a hot water compress to subdue severe itching. I suffer with terrible and prolonged itching from fire ant bites (usually bitten when fishing in the South).

Several years ago, while suffering dreadfully from the itching of about 30 concentrated fire ant bites, I jumped into the shower, adjusted the water to as hot as I could stand, and using my hand-held pulsating shower head, ran it up and down the affected area on my leg. Amazingly, the itching stopped and I never had to chance the consequences of possible infection and scarring that might result from unabated scratching.

I believe that this method of relieving severe itching may be even better than the hot compress application. Not only does the hot water alleviate the itching, but the pulsating water also safely satisfies the urge to scratch.

A. Brief exposure to hot water (a few seconds) can ease itching from bug bites or mild poison ivy. The hot water interrupts the itch signal from nerve endings for a few hours. Do not use hot water for hives, however, as it could make matters worse.

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  1. sandeep

    Applying a cup of hot water on affected areas using a cotton cloth is a the best remedy to control jock itching (morning and evening) for 5 minutes.

  2. Bernie

    Very good discussion. I first practiced this for severe mosquito bites 65 years ago thanks to boy scout first aid station. It seems to work well for pruritis compared to topical anti-itch medications.

  3. Tom

    I had jock itch really bad a couple of years ago and the hot water, as hot as you can stand it, really works well. My shower head is on a hose that can be taken down off the mount on the shower pipe, the head can be twisted from a spray to a stream of hot water. When the stream of hot water hit the itchy area, the itch intensified but only for a few seconds, then the relief set in but I wanted to get rid of the jock itch just not relieve it, I tried an experiment that actually got rid of it surprisingly fast, I bought a bottle of medicated body powder, Gold Bond, but Ammens works good also, got three tubes of jock itch medication in the squeezeable tubes and put it in the powder then I put water in the powder bottles also, shook it it up until it became pasty and spread it over the effected areas. I waited for the goop to dry then washed it off, did it for four days, on the fourth day, after I washed it off, I put the hot water on it, it didn’t relieve the itch, the hot water burned, then I realized the fungus or wherever it was had died. Did it a couple of more days just to make sure. My experiment worked pretty good.

  4. Kathryn

    Be careful using the hot water when first exposed to poison ivy or oak. The hot water can help spread the spores to every part of your body and helps it really set in. A cold shower to start with is a good idea, then use really hot water to soothe any itching. This is literally the only way I was able to control the pain from a severe allergic reaction to poison oak. It really works wonders!!!

  5. JD

    This also works well for carbuncles also.. 8 hour relief is about accurate.

  6. AT

    I put hand sanitizer on my fire ant bites as soon as I can. It seems to take the itch away for good though it is not instantaneous (maybe takes 10-15 min to alleviate the sting).

  7. M.B

    So true have some funny rash on my feet that’s so itching but after the hot water treatment it’s now gone.

  8. CK

    It works! Relief at last. Hottest water I could stand… Was more relief than scratching and after the exposure to hot water it relief has lasted hours. I feel great. (Not sure why this technic is not common knowledge.)

  9. john s.

    When I suffer from athletes foot or from jock itch, I turn the water as hot as I can stand it. As soon as the hot water hits the affected area it almost feels like it itches more. But the feeling is great. It takes the itch away and I believe it actually kills the bacteria causing the problem. It is a great remedy.

  10. Itching right now

    Yes, you can get just a few little bumps from chicken pox. Lucky kid! Especially lucky they’re on her middle instead of her face.

  11. Linda B

    Regarding hot compresses on hives. My sister was treated with hot compresses for what were believed to be hives. There were exactly 13 on her midriff. She now has 13 scars. Later they (the nurse, etc.) said they must have been chicken pox. Just 13? Sounds odd to me. Any ideas?

    • Kathryn

      I know this reply is late, but for anyone wondering I have a feeling what your sister had was actually Shingles. The shingles virus can effect anyone who is exposed to the chicken pox virus, and is normally seen in older patients. I have treated a fair share of teenage/twenty something’s with Shingles too though. Shingles appears differently in everyone but is like severe chicken pox in a concentrated area of the body. It often presents in just one place (ie back, one leg, or one arm etc). It is extremely painful, but hot water treatments are not always the best way to deal with the Shingles virus because of type of welts that can develop. Shingles is HIGHLY contagious, so if you have already had chicken pox as a child, and now think you are having the same/similar symptoms, please see a doctor immediately!

  12. Nelson H.

    I have known about hot water for itching for many years. About 10 years ago I got a persistant skin fungus (I am a paddler and spend my weekends wet). In desperation, I used the hot water treatment to try and conttol the itching of the infected areas. Not only did it work well but the fungus, which had resisted treatment with some very expensive drugs, cleared up in a couple of weeks. Apparently the hot water also weakened the fungus and made it more susceptible to the medications.

  13. MLC

    Living in a highly infested fire ant area, I have tried many things for fire ant bites. Have found that a plain aspirin moistened to a paste with several drops of water and scrubbed vigerously into the bite does more good than anything else.

  14. Judy M.

    My children used to get poison ivy at least once a year and the really warm shower water stopped the itching for as long as 8 hours. They were able to sleep through the night without scratching. It was wonderful and as adults, they still use this treatment when the occasion calls for it.

  15. john

    I use hot as i can stand water for itch especially at bedtime…., also the comfrey and jewelweed for plants itch such as parsnip burns and poison ivy, and cold mud for nettle itch, i’m a forager always getting into something…these work as though a miracle jfh :-)

  16. pm

    Works well for poison ivy too, brief blasts of hot air from a hair dryer are an effective alternative to hot water

  17. mtn

    Especially for fire ant bites – “keep a comfrey plant – crush the leaves and rub on bites”

  18. Lorie

    I have noted that the use of hot water helps quell the severe itching I get when my hands or feet get cold. I handle cold items with towels or gloves most of the time (I use my hot mitts as cold mitts!) but when I forget, or hold a cold item too long, running my hands under hot water does the trick kills the itch.

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