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. kevin spencer

    I get a persistent low grade itch that will flare up the second I actually itch it. If I go in the shower and put it on screaming hot and douse the area for a couple minutes the itch will flare up but almost immediately stop and disappear for about ten to twelve hours. I also get a overwhelming feeling of relief when the hot water touches the area. Is this a typical kind of itch?. what are some of the causes of this kind of itch? It started about six months ago and after trying creams-powders and ointments it seems like the scalding hot water and Lotrimine AF work the best. I was thinking it was fungal but after using Lotrimine for six months you would think it would be gone by now.

  2. john

    I use very hot water the steam fogs up the bathroom when I take a bath when my legs itch. The second I step in the hot water the relief/sensation is unbelievable. When I use creams,salves,or oils you can still feel the itch in the back round but not with hot water (if you know what I mean). You can get the same feeling with a shot of night quill at night (as the creams,salves,oils) I have tried many of creams, salves,oils. I have read that hot water should not be used this I disagree with. I can only wonder what the creams, salves or oils do to your skin seeing it’s on your skin all day long. What is your take on that?

  3. Eleanor
    New Jersey

    My hands often get very itchy, and I find relief if I put them under very hot running water, usually early in the morning or late at night. Does anyone else have this problem?

  4. John

    I have severe itching dermatitis sores, and very hot water, though causing pain, also causes a pleasurable feeling, giving many hours of relief. Don’t know if this is advisable but it works.

  5. Rocky
    Newfoundland, Canada

    I agree with one of the first gentlemen who said that he was shy to admit using hot water for itches to anyone. My wife has been concerned that the hot water could dry out my skin and creat an issue. I use hot water on my back and sides virtually every time I take a shower. I do not use hot water when I take a soaking bath which I also do. I feel vindicated by seeming that I am not the only person who does this. Thank you all so much. I can now take my hot showers knowing that others are doing the same thing.

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