a shower head spraying hot water

Q. Hot water works for itches! I used the hottest water I could stand for a few seconds on my mosquito bites. It gave much more relief than scratching and lasted for hours. Why isn’t this technique common knowledge?

A. We have been writing about hot water (hot enough to hurt but not so hot as to burn) for itchy bug bites for 36 years. We first learned about this remedy from a 1961 edition of the textbook, Dermatology: Diagnosis and Treatment. Perhaps it is no longer mentioned in medical school, since dermatologists now have potent corticosteroid creams to ease itching.

Hot water can also be helpful in easing the itch from poison oak or poison ivy. It should never be used for hives, however, as it can make them worse.

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  1. Mimi

    Would this work on my grandson’s eczema?

  2. Stacy
    Lancaster, CA

    that orgasmic feeling …I thought I was the only one who felt it when using scalding water on the itchy area. I’m shocked to read about other people describing it the same way and that people actually use this method. And wow does it relieve that itch like nothing else!!… for hours, and all night. and I find that once the area heals (because of not scratching it with my nails) I no longer feel the need to do the hot water thing.

  3. David
    New Jersey

    Believe you me, using HOT water does in fact ease and most times, eliminates the itching for hours (Need a good night sleep)? I’m 60 and have been doing this for poison Ivy for decades. Just try to control the water flow so the area you’re washing drains away from your body so as to NOT to get any ‘new poison’ on you that has been washed from your wounds. It will spread a ‘little’ but not that much and it’s worth what it does to ease the itching!

  4. Cherry

    I have a bunch of mosquito bites on my ankles. I can’t take direct heat from the hair dryer so I decided to try putting some Tiger Balm (it’s similar to IcyHot or BenGay) on them and the crazy itchiness went away almost immediately. Relief at last!

  5. Orgasm Leg
    Vancouver, Canada

    I have a related situation: During days in hot weather, especially if wearing long pants, I get a condition very similar to ‘prickly heat’ on both lower legs, where they get red, weepy and extremely itchy.

    However, I have found that blasting the effected areas with hot water from a shower nozzle dosen’t just curb the itch, it generates a strong burst of pleasure that I can only compare to an orgasm, albeit centered on the area and no ‘pulses’ of pleasure, just full on arching of the back, mouth hanging open sensation of orgasm-level pleasure.

    This lasts for at least 20 seconds before the sensation starts to both become dulled and slightly painful in the blasted area. To renew the pleasure, I just move the showerhead around to other itchy areas. All told, get an average 2 minutes of non-stop orgasmic pleasure doing this in the shower. Can also be induced with any other heat source outside of the shower, like a hot water bottle pressed directly to the effected skin.

    This is becoming addictive, and I am afraid I may be damaging my skin or nerves doing this. Having the pleasure/pain nerves crosswired like this cannot be a good sign.

    Eventually, when the weather turns cooler, this happens less and less often.

    Does anyone else experience this, and even more important, does anyone know what the hell is causing this??

  6. alx

    Hot water treatment works with any rash or itch. Have used it for years for every sort of itch or rash.

  7. ina

    hi this did not help as I have not been bitten, it is most in bed and I have used every thing the chemist has given me, I thought if I could get a cool spray. thank you ina

  8. Julie

    I have started to use a hair dryer to relieve the itch from bug bites….
    30 to 45 seconds 2 to 3 times a day….aim the hair dryer at the bite for a close as you can stand it .

  9. Dez Delp
    wallawalla, wa.

    I have a rash & while in the shower realized that hot water helps relieve the itch & doesn’t rip open the skin like scratching does. I get the water as hot as I can stand it. I hope this is ok to do as it helps so much.

  10. Florence M.

    I agree with the hot water for insect bites, but in the case of mosquito bites out in the open far from water, I immediately stick the end of a finger nail into the skin where bitten. For me it stops the pain right away.

  11. Denise

    Nancy, great idea about putting a damp washcloth in the microwave. I tried it yesterday with a damp cotton ball (11 seconds, power level 10) and you’re right! It is faster and doesn’t waste water. Plus: I could reach the spot without taking off my clothes and getting into the shower. Plus plus: With the cotton ball, I could apply the hot water very precisely – with my old way, water that was just right on the bite was really too hot for the surrounding skin. Word of warning to others: it might be easier to accidentally burn yourself this way, since most people’s hot water heaters are not set high enough to burn skin. Even at only 11 seconds in the microwave I had to let the cotton ball cool a little first.

  12. RK

    We have used this remedy for minor jellyfish stings, with good results. We also use the wet cloth in microwave method.

  13. Shirley

    I had used the hot water treatment for bug & mosquito bites. Now I have discovered something that isn’t quite so messy… I turn the hairdryer on high and hold it about 6 inches from the bite for just as long as I can stand it. You have to be very careful not to burn yourself. Then turn it away for a minute and repeat several times. That’s usually the last of the itch from that bite.

    • Julie

      I too have had success with you hair dryer method …thank you!

  14. Kathy

    I have been using hot water for years on poison ivy. It relieves the itch better than anything else and does so instantly. I take a hot shower just before going to bed and can sleep peacefully through the night.

  15. Denise

    Yes! As a gardener, I am frequently bitten by various insects and non-poisonous spiders. One of these is an as-yet-unidentified critter (not mosquito) whose bite produces an intensely itchy welt that persists for a week or more. Nothing I’ve tried, including oral Benadryl, topical lidocaine, and a strong prescription corticosteroid cream, works as well as the hot water treatment. Holding the itch under hot running water – as hot as I can stand it for as long as I can stand it – completely alleviates the itch for at least 8-10 hours. As a bonus, it feels really really good – even better than scratching.

  16. Nancy

    I have been using your recommendation of hot water for itching for several years now. It works extremely well for bug bites, but also for the itchy rash I sometimes get from gardening. If I pull up weeks without gloves, then touch my neck, the rash transfers to that area. Nothing relieves the intense itching better than hot water. I like to put a wet cloth in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Works faster than wasting running water waiting for it to get hot enough.

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