Q. I had a localized rash on my back (about 2 inches by 4 inches) for 15 years. It itched and became inflamed if I scratched it.

A dermatologist called it “notalgia paresthetica” and said there is no cure. My massage therapist suggested lavender oil or tea tree oil as a drying agent. I applied a few drops of lavender oil on a cotton ball and rubbed it on my back twice daily. Not only did it dry the area but, best of all, the itching stopped. Now the skin is smooth. I apply the oil whenever I think about it for fragrant relief.

A. Thank you for sharing your solution to a common and annoying problem. Keep in mind that both lavender oil and tea tree oil have hormone-disrupting estrogenic activity (Hormones, July-Sept. 2010).

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  1. w

    For those wondering about the hormonal thing, lavender is said to contain estrogen-like (female hormone) compounds that have been linked to increased breast size in young boys. Children in particular are sensitive to the effects of these compounds, hence the warning.

  2. richard g.

    tea tree oil and lavender are just wonderful. thanks for the info.

  3. SCR

    What was your answer for tea tree oil’s hormone-disrupting activity?

  4. ebm

    Seventh Generation and Ecos and several other detergents are available in health stores and now at Target, Walmart and Walgreens Drug Store. I also use a second rinse and less than the recommended amount of soap. My clothes are much white and cleaner that way.

  5. Sharina

    I wonder if this person had an atypical fungal or yeast infection on their skin, since Lavendar is an anti-fungal (among other things) agent.

  6. Mary Beth

    I have used lavender oil on a burn that was stubbornly not healing, and it healed amazingly quickly. I also used tea tree oil on a psoriasis looking thing several times and it completely disappeared.

  7. Steve

    Peoples Pharmacy,
    Would you please be more specific about the comment made about hormone disruption. I did a search on this on this site but found nothing much of information on Lavender oil and hormone disruption.
    Also for how long did the subject apply the oil? My interest is that I until just recently had an itch on my back for years without a rash. I think that the itch developed just after I had a Lipoma removed. My dermatologist saw no rash and had no explanation. Why it recently stopped itching is unknown to me, but I fear it may return.

  8. BobK

    Over the years I have found that after machine washing underwear, chemicals from the detergent can still be found in the clothing. When these chemicals come in contact with your skin they can irritate the skin which will cause you to itch. In order to eliminate as many chemicals as possible I started doing a double rinse on my wash cycle and some times even do a whole new wash cycle without using any detergent at all. Both of these methods seems to have eliminated my itching problems.
    I also try to find a detergent that is labeled gentle and has no chemicals beyond those that do the cleaning. However, that is not an easy task as marketing has gone beyond common sense these days with the use of too many chemicals in detergents. Good luck.

  9. Nancy H.

    I had a similar type itch on my right arm, just above the elbow. If I even touched it when it started itching it would become inflamed. The only way to get relief was a cold cloth. After 15 years of trial and error it turned out to be an allergy to statins. A switch to Tricor solved the problem. During those years I would have tried the lavender oil; unfortunately nothing topical ever helped.

  10. T Robbins

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have had a patch of skin on my back like this that has itched non-stop for 10 years, without any relief.
    I will be giving this a try ~ today!
    Thanks again.

  11. Elaine

    What exactly is hormone-disrupting estrogenic activity (in other words, what does that mean?)

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