Health Conditions A-Z Skin Conditions The 16 Best Anti-Itch Creams of 2022 Sarna Original Anti-Itch Moisturizing Lotion provides a menthol-based cooling sensation that naturally soothes skin itch without causing irritation By Michelle Pugle Michelle Pugle Facebook Instagram Website Michelle Pugle is a mental health writer and health news reporter featured in multiple digital publications. She also writes lived experience essays about anorexia, addiction and sobriety, and living well with fibromyalgia and CPTSD. She is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: An Eating Disorder Recovery Memoir, Space to Grow, Poems, and Disordered: You Are Not Crazy. Michelle holds a Master of Arts degree in Feminist Research, a double BA in Sociology and English, a diploma in Holistic Herbal Therapy, and training certifications in mental health first aid by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Usui reiki, and suicide prevention. Her work translates the latest research into actionable tips that support people in making informed choices about their health. health's editorial guidelines Updated on October 28, 2022 Share Tweet Pin Email We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Getty Images Having itchy skin is irritating, distracting, and can become incredibly painful. Whether it’s the annoying itch associated with a bug bite or the kind of itch associated with inflammation that can keep you up at night, neither is welcome or wanted. Fortunately, many over-the-counter products are available with average prices ranging from $4 to $22 which may help relieve itch. Reviewed and Approved Sarna Original Anti-Itch Moisturizing Lotion is a versatile lotion that soothes itchy skin from sunburn, poison ivy, insect bites, and other skin conditions. Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy Itch Relief Balm calms eczema outbreaks without harmful ingredients. We all know not every itch is the same. While some creams work well for that general dry skin itch, others are specially-formulated for eczema, so we reached out to dermatologists to determine what they recommend for what type of itch and why. For mild itching or dry skin, people should look for anti-itch creams including ingredients like menthol, pramoxine and camphor. But for painful, inflamed skin, you may want to opt for creams that also include topical steroids like hydrocortisone or antihistamines like diphenhydramine, recommends Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York. Here are the best anti-itch creams available. Sarna Steroid-Free Anti-Itch Lotion for Dry Irritated Skin Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This lotion contains menthol that soothes itchy skin and provides a cooling sensation. It's Worth Noting: The key ingredient camphor has a strong scent, which may not appeal to everyone. Sarna Original Anti-Itch Moisturizing Lotion won’t leave your skin feeling dry or irritated because it seals in moisture. We like that this cream can be used daily to soothe winter skin itch. But according to Dr. Garshick, you should keep this lotion on hand to relieve the sting of the many causes of itchy skin, such as insect bites, rashes, and sunburns, too. Menthol and camphor are considered natural analgesics or pain-relievers. This means they work by helping numb the itch, explains Azadeh Shirazi, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at La Jolla Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center. Menthol provides an additional cooling sensation that can help to relieve pain. Dr. Garshick adds this anti-itch lotion can be used as is, but keeping it in the refrigerator will help enhance its cooling effect to provide itch relief. Price at time of publication: $15 Product Details: Type: CreamKey Ingredient(s): Menthol, camphorScent: Camphor Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy Itch Relief Balm Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This balm hydrates, moisturizes, and supports your natural skin barrier without fragrances, dyes, phthalates, or parabens. It's Worth Noting: The active ingredient pramoxine may cause some side effects such as redness and dryness. This balm absorbs quickly and is a good option for those with allergy-prone or sensitive skin. It can be used up to 3-4 times per day and won’t leave the skin feeling greasy, says Dr. Garshick. Dr. Shirazi adds that the blend of colloidal oatmeal, pro-vitamin B5, and shea butter nourish the skin, promoting inflammation relief. Many creams don’t actually treat the underlying inflammation that causes itching; Dr. Shirazi explains that oftentimes itching is actually due to a disrupted skin barrier, as is in the case of eczema itch and treating the underlying inflammation means helping the skin barrier heal. This lotion also contains pramoxine which helps to soothe and reduce itching. Pramoxine is considered a topical anesthetic, meaning that it stops nerves from sending pain signals. Price at time of publication: $14 Product Details: Type: BalmKey Ingredient(s): Pramoxine, prebiotic oat, aloe vera, pro-vitamin B5Scent: None Curél Curél Hydratherapy Itch Defense Wet Skin Moisturizer Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This versatile lotion helps stop itching from common allergic reactions. It's Worth Noting: If you apply the lotion in the shower as suggested, it may feel slimy and leave lotion residue on your towel. This lotion helps relieve poison ivy itch, in particular, and unspecified rashes in general. It is formulated to relieve severely dry and itchy skin with a restorative ceramide complex, pro-vitamin B5, and shea butter. If you’re wondering what ceramide is, it’s a type of fat naturally found in skin. Ceramides in anti-itch creams work by nourishing and adding protection to the skin’s barrier and preventing hydration loss that contributes to dry skin. Curel Itch Defense Fragrance-Free Lotion is a good option to keep in yor bathroom for the whole family’s use. Dr. Garshick says it is also safe to use on the face and it’s pediatrician-approved in babies 6 months of age and older. Price at time of publication: $21 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Ceramide complex, pro-vitamin B5, and shea butterScent: None CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: The 2% salicylic acid in this lotion is great for psoriasis. It's Worth Noting: Salicylic acid is a skin peeling agent that may cause minor irritations and changes in pigmentation to the treated skin area. Salicylic acid 2% helps to reduce skin scaling and skin irritation associated with psoriasis, says Dr. Garshick. Importantly, the cream is gentle enough to use for everyday skin itching and effective enough to use on psoriasis breakout areas (such skin scales and dry patches). CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream also contains those “essential ceramides” to support the skin barrier, says Dr. Garshick. It is also worth noting that you won’t have to worry about scent-sensitivities or oils being irritating to your psoriasis scales because this cream is always fragrance-free. Price at time of publication: $20 Product Details: Type: CreamKey Ingredient(s): Salicylic acid 2%, Ceramide complexScent: None Vaseline Intensive Care Soothing Hydration Lotion Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This clinically-tested lotion works to both soothe skin and lock in moisture. It's Worth Noting: The bottle’s pump can be a little difficult to use. Containing glycerin and microdroplets of Vaseline jelly, Dr. Garshick explains this lotion helps to nourish, hydrate, and support the skin’s layers while also incorporating aloe vera extract to calm and soothe the skin. It can be applied daily to help relieve dry, itchy skin. Aloe extract is safe to use on the face and may be helpful for acne and treating other skin blemishes or burns. Plus, it’s easily absorbed without leaving any greasy residue on your skin. It also offers a gentle cooling effect that’s less intense than menthol. Price at time of publication: $18.50 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Glycerin, Aloe vera, Vaseline jellyScent: Mild Aloe Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This hydrocortisone-containing cream is a great option for people with sensitive skin—and it can even be used on the face. It's Worth Noting: Hydrocortisone is considered a mild corticosteroid so this cream is not recommended for infected skin or if you have open skin sores (ulcers), rosacea, or acne. This cream gives a lot without leaving anything behind. Dr. Garshick highlights that this cream is truly made for sensitive skin, meaning it is fragrance-free, lanolin-free, paraben-free, and formaldehyde-free. Importantly, it’s also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, and won’t leave the skin feeling greasy, either. Dr. Garshick says it can be used on the whole body, including the face. Price at time of publication: $13 Product Details: Type: CreamKey Ingredient(s): Hydrocortisone 1% CreamScent: None Babyganics soothing itch stick, fragrance-free Buy on Babyganics.com Why We Like It: It’s mess-free and easy to travel with. It's Worth Noting: The scent may be overwhelming or unpleasant to children and scent-sensitive adults. Sometimes you have an itch in a single spot—like a bug bite—that you want to target quickly. That’s where a stick treatment can come in handy. It’s made to work on minor irritations and itching related to insect bites, poison oak, and poison ivy. Dr. Garshick explains this skin protectant stick uses colloidal oatmeal to help protect the skin and relieve the skin of skin irritation and itching. Colloidal oatmeal is oat powder, often used for treating dry, itchy, irritated, and inflamed skin. Throw this stick in your beach bag or backpack for use on the whole family. The formula includes a seed oil blend, too, for additional skin nourishment. The blend includes tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and red raspberry oils. The stick application also makes it easier to reach specific treatment areas, says Dr. Garshick including behind the knees, on the scalp, and big toe itching associated with gout or other arthritis. Price at time of publication: $8 Product Details: Type: Stick (balm)Key Ingredient(s): OatmealScent: Essential oil blend Eucerin Itch Relief Intensive Calming Lotion Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This lotion is long-lasting with itch-relief up to 12 full hours. It's Worth Noting: The menthol in this calming lotion may be overly stimulating to some people. The power of this steroid-free lotion comes from menthol. Dr. Garshick says this lotion in particular provides an immediate cooling and soothing sensation to the affected areas and can help relieve itching for up to 12 hours. “It also contains ceramides and vitamin E, both of which support the skin barrier,” says Dr. Garshick. It can be used daily and won’t leave the skin feeling greasy. It is fragrance-free, paraben-free and dye-free. Price at time of publication: $9 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Menthol, Ceramides, Vitamin EScent: Mild mint Cortizone 10 Max Strength Intensive Healing Formula with Antioxidants and Chamomile Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This cream offers immediate relief while being gentle on the skin and providing skin nourishment and moisture. It's Worth Noting: If you’re new to hydrocortisone cream, it may cause a burning or stinging sensation when applied. Hydrocortisone is a popular choice for any type of chronic or sudden skin itch. It helps by treating inflammation while reducing redness and itching, says Dr. Shirazi. Hydrocortisone topicals are typically used 1-4 times per day for two weeks. If you don’t see improvement after 7 days, though, it’s recommended you stop using it and contact your healthcare provider. This cream also provides vitamins A and E for additional soothing and itch relief. Price at time of publication: $18 Product Details: Type: CreamKey Ingredient(s): Hydrocortisone, Vitamin A, Vitamin EScent: None Bliss Cloud 9 Body Lotion Weightless Moisture Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This daily-use lotion has several scent options available so everyone can find their favorite. It's Worth Noting: Because it’s a quick-absorb lotion, it’s not very thick. Many of the itch-relief creams for dry skin on this list have are either unscented or have strong scents of menthol or camphor. If you’re looking for a daily-use cream that can double as a perfume, we recommend Bliss Cloud 9 Body Lotion. This lightweight lotion is available in several different scents including lemon and sage, pink blossom and waterlily, and almond milk and vanilla. All of them incorporates Bliss’ Vita-shea blend, which includes vitamin B3, C, and E as well as shea butter. “Together, these vitamins work to deeply nourish and hydrate the skin, as well as calm skin irritations,” says Dr. Garshick. Price at time of publication: $12 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Shea butter, vitamin B3, vitamin C, and vitamin EScent: Available in unscented, lemon and sage, pink blossom and waterlily, and almond milk and vanilla CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Lotion Buy on Amazon Buy on Ulta Why We Like It: This body lotion helps reduce immediate itchiness but also supports your skin health over time. It's Worth Noting: It contains pramoxine hydrochloride, which might not be safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. CeraVe is known for the ceramides (fatty acids that protect against skin dryness and infection) in many of its products. According to Dr. Garshick those hydrating ceramides are the secret to this particular lotion’s potent anti-itch relief. She explains using this lotion supports and strengthens the skin barrier to keep the skin feeling moisturized. This can be a good option when you’re not exactly sure why you have skin itch. This lotion also contains active ingredient pramoxine hydrochloride 1%, which Dr. Shirazi says typically works within a few minutes to soothe the sensation of itching, but doesn’t necessarily treat inflammation. If you’re not sure why you have dry or itchy skin, you’re not alone. Peter Young, MD, is a dermatologist and medical director of the skincare company Facet. He explains the cause of itching is not always straightforward, and it is one of the most frequent reasons people go to see a dermatologist. “Psoriasis, contact allergies, fungus, and yeast infections are other itchy skin conditions which may benefit from anti-itch creams,” he says. Price at time of publication: $16 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Praxomine hydrochloride 1% Scent: None After Bite Xtra Insect Bite Treatment with Antihistamine Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: It contains an antihistamine in a compact tube format that can be easily packed for on-the-go use. It's Worth Noting: Antihistamines can cause side effects in some people. When you get bitten by an insect, your immune system releases compounds called histimines. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, histimines are chemicals released by the immune system when the body encounters an allergen—like a bug bite. When you apply an antihistamine, it reduces the allergic reaction. After Bite Xtra is an antihistamine-containing gel that you can apply to bug bites, like those from mosquitos and fire ants or even bee stings, to quell the irritation. The small tube is tiny enough to be kept in your glove compartment, handbag, or first aid kit for use when needed. Though it’s rare, some people may have reactions to topical antihistamines, so if the itching worsens or you experience dry mouth or confusion, stop using the product and contact your healthcare provider. Along the same lines, if using this treatment on a child, be sure to check with their healthcare provider first. Price at time of publication: $13 Product Details: Type: GelKey Ingredient(s): AntihistamineScent: None Lotrimin Ultra Antifungal Cream Jock Itch Treatment Buy on Bed Bath & Beyond Buy on CVS Why We Like It: This prescription-strength formula targets the underlying cause of jock itch to provide lasting relief from itching, burning, and chafing in the groin area. It's Worth Noting: Antifungal ingredients such as butenafine hydrochloride may not be well tolerated by everyone. Jock itch occurs as a result of a fungal infection known as tinea cruris in the groin area, thighs, and butt crack. The condition can occur in both men and women. Because jock itch is the result of a fungal infection, Dr. Garshick says the best treatment is an antifungal cream like Lotrimin AF. It can be used in the affected areas of people 12 years of age and older. The antifungal ingredient in this cream is called butenafine hydrochloride. It is used to treat both fungal and yeast infections, although this particular cream is not approved for the treatment of vaginal yeast infections. It’s often safe to try anti-itch creams before seeing a dermatologist, but if you have no improvement or if the condition worsens, Dr. Young suggests speaking with your dermatologist or another healthcare professional about your symptoms. Price at time of publication: $11 Product Details: Type: CreamKey Ingredient(s): Butenafine hydrochloride Scent: None Dove Body Love Body Lotion for Reoccuring Dry Skin Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This silky body lotion retains moisture for up to 48-hours after application, making it an ideal option for people with an active lifestyle. It's Worth Noting: Even though this lotion is unscented, it still has a slight smell that may not appeal to everyone. This paraben- and cruelty-free lotion absorbs quickly and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy, meaning you can reapply it as desired without worrying about what your next activity is. You can put it on your hands, arms, and legs before heading to the gym or outdoors to work out, for example. Dr. Garshick says it will leave your skin feeling softer and smoother. She also notes that this formula includes a ceramide serum that works to support your natural skin barrier and strengthen moisture retention over time to improve dry and itchy skin. Price at time of publication: $19.50 for a pack of 3 Product Details: Type: LotionKey Ingredient(s): Glycerin, Ceramides Scent: None BioRepublic Soothe & Calm Organic Facial Sheet Mask Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: Combining self-care and soothing skin relief into one, this aloe vera sheet mask pulls double duty. It's Worth Noting: This mask set is a shorter-term, not daily, option. Dr. Garshick recommends aloe vera—a key ingredient in this sheet mask—for facial sensitivity or itching. Dr. Shirazi adds that aloe vera is effective for treating inflammation and associated redness and itching, which can be more common in a high-contact area like the face. Aloe vera has been well-studied for its skin benefits. A systematic review of 23 trials shows aloe vera is effective for treating psoriasis, cracked skin, and chronic wounds including pressure ulcers. This sheet mask also contains snow mushroom extracts, such as white fungus, silver ear, or white jelly mushroom. “Snow mushroom extract delivers lasting moisture to the skin that relieves itch and leaves skin looking [and feeling] healthy”, Dr. Garshick says. Price at time of publication: $23 Product Details: Type: Sheet maskKey Ingredient(s): Aloe Vera, Snow mushroom extractScent: None Aquaphor Children’s Itch Relief Ointment Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: This prescription-strength ointment can be used safely in children 2 years and older. It's Worth Noting: This is an ointment, so it’ll take longer to absorb into skin than a lotion. This ointment is fragrance and paraben-free and incorporates hydrocortisone 1% to help soothe itchy or irritated skin. Dr. Young says hydrocortisone is one of the key ingredients to look for in any topical anti-itch product on the market. Dr. Shirazi adds that like aloe vera, hydrocortisone is meant to help treat inflammation which reduces redness and itching. Price at time of publication: $11 Product Details: Type: OintmentKey Ingredient(s): Hydrocortisone 1%Scent: None How We Selected To determine the best anti-itch creams, we spoke to several board-certified dermatologists to find out which products they recommend. We prioritized anti-itch creams tested by dermatologists along with everyday options that are widely available. Average price ranges from $4 to $22, depending on type and method of application. In reviewing the best anti-itch creams, we took into consideration the type of itch being treated, the method of application (i.e., cream, lotion, stick, gel, ointment), and key ingredients that help reduce dryness, itching, inflammation, and associated pain. We offered a range of options so you can find something to help relieve general itchiness as well as specific types of itch, including eczema and jock itch, no matter how active your lifestyle or what your age. What to Know About Anti-Itch Creams Type Non-steroidal creams: This category includes over-the-counter creams with moisture-enhancing ingredients like glycerin and complex ceramides, essential oils like menthol and camphor, and ingredients like pramoxine. These creams are a great first-choice for skin irritations and general dry skin itch. Antihistamine creams: Antihistamines work to reduce allergic reaction to environmental triggers like a bug bite or skin irritation from plants like poison oak and poison ivy. Topical antihistamines can be found in several forms including cream, lotion, spray, ointment, and gel. Steroid-based creams: Hydrocortisone and other corticosteroid creams fall under this category. These creams are made for reducing inflammation associated with chronic or recurring skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. You may or may not need a prescription, depending on the total amount of steroid active in the product. In some cases, you may want to consult with a dermatologist to determine which strength is best for your skin needs. Which Method of Application Is Best? When it comes to choosing between creams, lotions, balms, sticks, and so forth, it can seem like a lot. What works for you will ultimately depend on what you’re treating (ie., general dry skin from weather changes or dry spots due to eczema). In some cases, you won’t be given a choice between cream, lotion, or ointment as there will only be one method of application available. Dr. Garshick suggests using a moisturizer to help address underlying dryness which could contribute to itching, and a topical steroid cream or other medication to help reduce the inflammation that may occur with an acute itch. Your Questions, Answered What conditions or situations would make someone need an anti-itch cream? According to dermatologists, certain skin conditions are more prone to itching and inflammation. These include bug bites, eczema, contact dermatitis (contact skin reaction or allergic reaction) and other rashes. Dr. Young also adds that anti-itch creams can help to relieve the itch associated with dry skin. “This is a year-round problem for many people, and it tends to get worse in the winter months from the cool, dry air.” What should people look for when choosing an anti-itch cream? Anti-itch creams and other anti-itch products are designed to soothe the skin and reduce itching but it’s important to note that dermatologists say these products don’t necessarily address the underlying issue or replace other treatments. Dr. Garshick suggests looking for ingredients like menthol, pramoxine, and camphor, but topical steroids like hydrocortisone or antihistamines like diphenhydramine are also great for itch relief. Dr. Young adds that while there are many effective options available, it’s most important to follow the product’s directions for best results. Is it safe to use over-the-counter anti-itch creams or do you need to talk to a dermatologist? Dermatologists agree that while it’s generally safe to use over-the-counter anti-itch creams, it’s also always a good idea to speak with a board-certified dermatologist to see if any treatments are needed to help address or target the underlying issue. Who We Are Michelle Pugle is a mental health writer and health news reporter featured in multiple digital publications. Her work translates the latest research into actionable tips that support people in making informed choices about their health. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.