Bug bites, hives, allergic reactions, dry skin – anything can cause intense itching. You may feel the urge to scratch your skin, which may further irritate or injure it, spelling more trouble. Essential oils can help during such bouts of itchiness. They are concentrated liquids containing volatile chemical compounds extracted from the plants and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
While they are not a “cure-it-all” for itching, especially if an underlying skin condition triggers it, they can provide some relief in a few cases. Keep reading to find out which essential oils can relieve itching and discomfort and ways to use them without harming your skin.
In This Article
14 Best Essential Oils For Itching
1. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is effective in relieving chronic pruritis – itching that persists for over six weeks. Studies found that peppermint oil in 0.5% concentration mixed with sesame oil reduced the severity of the itch in two weeks (1).
2. Chamomile Oil
Roman chamomile oil is used in cosmetic products for its skin-soothing and softening effects. It is often used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. It can relieve skin irritation, bruises, and bacterial infections that may cause skin discomfort and itching (2).
3. Tea Tree Oil
It is a strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent and is known to soothe and heal acne. Tea tree oil effectively reduces dandruff and scalp itchiness and is a part of traditional medicine to relieve skin discomfort, heal wounds, and soothe rashes and insect bites. It is quite popular as a cosmetic ingredient and is found in many topical skin care products and ointments (3).
4. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is effective against a wide array of skin issues, such as abscesses, blisters, boils, bacterial infections, burns, cuts, eczema, dermatitis, fungal infections, insect bites, skin inflammation, stings, psoriasis, rosacea, and wounds. It is quite effective against S. aureus bacteria, which cause acne, boils, and folliculitis. These skin conditions are known to create itching on the skin in varying degrees (4).
5. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense oil works as a healing agent for problematic skin. It can relieve dry and damaged skin, minimize wrinkles, and soothe acne, skin discomfort, and itching caused by dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and other fungal infections (4).
6. Helichrysum Oil
This oil promotes skin cell regeneration and soothes damaged skin, eczema, sores, and inflammation. It relieves itching and other inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis (4).
7. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is used in wound dressings to reduce the risk of infections and promote healing. It has antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe acne (4). Eucalyptus is also used in traditional remedies to relieve itchiness caused by bug bites and allergic reactions.
8. Geranium Oil
Geranium is a flowering plant that belongs to the Pelargonium species. The essential oil extracted from the plants of this species has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is effective in minimizing wound healing and soothing acne by reducing bacteria proliferation. It can heal cracked skin, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea and regulate sebum production. It is best suited for mature and dry skin (4).
9. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass plant is a natural insect repellant. Its leaves and extracts are widely used to soothe insect bites and itching caused by rashes and allergic reactions. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and it can regulate excess sebum production and relieve fungal infections and acne(4).
10. Bergamot Oil
A study found that applying bergamot oil, combined with UVB therapy, can reduce the severity of psoriasis, improve collagen content, and promote hair growth (5). Anecdotal evidence claims that it has a soothing and cooling effect on the skin.
However, like any citrus oil, bergamot oil can cause photosensitivity and make your skin vulnerable to sun damage.
11. Myrrh Oil
Myrrh oil is traditionally used in the treatment of various skin wounds and allergies. It is a popular remedy to relieve itching. Myrrh oil and extracts have anti-inflammatory effects and can inhibit histamine, a chemical associated with our immune response and triggers itching (6).
12. Patchouli Oil
Patchouli oil has antioxidant properties to soothe the skin, maintain its structural integrity, and has anti-inflammatory properties to relieve UV-induced skin damage, including photoaging. A study shows that 12% patchouli oil can control skin infections and odor in patients with ulcers, abrasions, and torn skin (7).
13. Camphor Oil
The pleasant fragrance of camphor oil may provide sensory relief. It also has therapeutic benefits when used topically. It can relieve itching, dryness, and discomfort associated with atopic dermatitis (8).
14. Witch Hazel Oil
Bug bites, inflammation, itching, acne – a bottle of witch hazel is a traditional home remedy for almost all skin-related issues. Witch hazel bark contains 10% tannins, giving it its astringent properties, while the leaves contain proanthocyanidins and ellagitannins. It works as an antibacterial agent that can alleviate acne and inflammation. It also contains polyphenols and has antioxidant properties to soothe irritated skin (9).
Unlike other plant oils, you cannot (and should not) apply essential oils directly to your skin. They are highly concentrated and may irritate the skin and aggravate your condition. You need to dilute them in the right proportion. Find out how in the next section.
How To Use Essential Oils For Itch Relief
Dilute essential oils with any carrier oil before application. You can use any plant oil like avocado, sesame, coconut, olive, sweet almond, and jojoba oils.
A 1% dilution is recommended for facial application or long-term use. In case you plan to use essential oils quite often, follow this measurement:
Carrier OilEssential Oil
|10 ml or 2 teaspoons||3 drops|
|15 ml or 3 teaspoons||4 drops|
|30 ml or 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons)||9 drops|
A 2% dilution is good for spot treatments or for whole-body application.
Carrier Oil Essential Oil
|10 ml or 2 teaspoons||6 drops|
|15 ml or 3 teaspoons||9 drops|
|30 ml or 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons)||18 drops|
Before using, do a patch test to check for allergic reactions. Always start with the lowest concentration of essential oil. Massage the affected area with the oil blend and leave it on for at least 15 minutes before washing off. You can leave it overnight if your skin feels fine. Avoid going outside in the sun after applying essential oils as some oils (like citrus oils) can cause photosensitivity.
Here are a few tips to ensure safe application.
Safety Tips For Using Essential Oils
- Do not apply essential oils on every body part, especially around the eyes, nose, mouth, and private parts. Also, be extra cautious with lemongrass and peppermint oils.
- Before buying one, check the quality. Buy from trusted brands to ensure you get 100% pure oils. Some brands may dilute the solution with vegetable oils and mix other ingredients in essential oils, which may cause allergic reactions.
- Do not go by the buzzwords like “pure” and “safe.” Essential oils can cause allergic reactions. So, always do a patch test before using any of them.
- Essential oils get rancid and expire. Always store them in a cool and dark place and never use the ones that are over three years old.
- Do not experiment with essential oils. Some oils are good for oral use but may cause allergic reactions when used topically and vice versa. Always ensure that the oil you are buying is safe for topical use.
- Some essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus oils may interfere with prescription medication and influence how your body absorbs the medication. If you are on a prescription drug, consult the doctor before using essential oils.
- Do not use essential oils too often as it may cause a bad reaction.
- Avoid using essential oils if you are pregnant or lactating. It is yet not clear if essential oils can affect the unborn baby. To be on the safe side, talk to your doctor before using them.
Always consult a doctor if you experience any reactions. Check out the risk factors below.
Side Effects And Risks Of Using Essential Oils For Itch Relief
Essential oils can cause mild to severe side effects. They include:
- Irritation and burning sensation
- Breathing issues (if you have a sensitive nose or asthma)
- Headache (due to the potent fragrance)
Wrapping It Up
Essential oils are a great natural remedy to soothe and calm irritated skin. However, you must be extremely cautious while using them. They are highly concentrated and carry the risk of aggravating your existing condition and affecting your overall well-being. If you experience any negative reaction, discontinue using the oils and consult a doctor immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
What essential oil is an anti-histamine?
Myrrh essential oil has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
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- Effectiveness of topical peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus
- Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future
- Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
- Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases:
- Efficacy of bergamot: From anti‐inflammatory and anti‐oxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations:
- Commiphora myrrha inhibits itch-associated histamine and IL-31 production in stimulated mast cells:
- A Comprehensive Review on the Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Pogostemon cablin Benth.: An Aromatic Medicinal Plant of Industrial Importance:
- Cinnamomum camphora Leaves Alleviate Allergic Skin Inflammatory Responses In Vitro and In Vivo
- Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells
- Effectiveness of topical peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus