The term itch cream is a bit of a misnomer, as it sounds a bit like a cream intended to cause itching. In fact, itch cream is meant to stop itching, so it is more suited to the term anti-itch cream. No matter what it is called, however, it is intended to treat itching and irritation. Some creams also treat inflammation.
There are many types and brands of itch cream, and some are sold over the counter (OTC) while others require a doctor’s prescription. One type of cream contains hydrocortisone, a type of steroid. This type may be used in treating skin conditions that cause itching, such as eczema. These creams may also help in treating seborrhea, which is marked by scaly, reddened patches of skin. However, most OTC creams that contain hydrocortisone only include a small amount of it, which may cause them to be less effective than a cream a doctor can prescribe.
OTC hydrocortisone itch creams typically contain one percent or less hydrocortisone. In fact, even those products labeled as maximum strength only have one percent of this substance. As such, some experts recommend skipping these products altogether in favor of a different type of OTC cream or one that has been prescribed by a doctor. For example, a doctor may prescribe a cream with more than one percent hydrocortisone, which may be more efficient at fighting itching.
A person may attempt to use hydrocortisone itch cream on insect bites, such as those inflicted by mosquitoes, fleas, and other pests. Unfortunately, hydrocortisone may not provide much relief in such cases. Instead, many people opt for calamine lotion. Some people forgo store-bought creams altogether in favor of pastes they make at home using water and baking soda; others use hemorrhoid cream to stop itching. Topical antihistamine creams, such as those containing diphenhydramine, may work as well, especially for itchy contact rashes and irritating insect bites.
Some creams are used for relieving itching caused by fungal infections. For example, a man with jock itch may purchase a tube of OTC cream that contains miconazole, clotrimazole, and tolnaftate. These creams help to kill the fungus that causes jock itch and relieve the itching as a matter of course. When jock itch is severe, however, it may be necessary to visit a doctor for something stronger. In such a case, a doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength topical medication, and in some cases, an oral medication may be prescribed as well.