Why Does Hot Water Feel Good On Itchy Skin?

Whether you have chronically itchy skin, as in the case of eczema and psoriasis, or if your itching is caused by insect bites or an allergic reaction, you may be searching for quick and easy ways to relieve the irritation. If you have tried all the over the counter remedies and topical creams and found no relief, you will probably be thrilled to hear there is a cheap and simple solution right there in your bathroom. Hot water can bring blessed relief to itchiness – it has to be as hot as you can stand it which may be uncomfortable, but you will find a huge lessening of your irritating symptoms without the danger of breaking your skin with scratching. But why does hot water feel so good on itchy skin?

Hot water can bring blessed relief to itchiness

blessed relief to itchiness

It’s all to do with the body’s natural defence mechanisms, especially those that are designed to release toxins and poisons.

When you have an itch, whatever that itch is caused by, it is a response by the body to deal with either the an allergic reaction or a chronic condition. The body sends blood cells to the area to help remove the problem, in a process known as vasodilation. Hot water has the same effect on your body; in that it brings blood to the surface and dilates the vessels, so a hot bath works in the same way as the body’s natural response to stop the causes of itching.


Inflammation is caused by the production of a chemical called Prostaglandin, which causes the redness and swelling caused by any type of inflammation. Inflammation can lead to the skin being itchy, especially if the inflammation progresses into a mild infection.

Histamine production

Histamine is produced by the body during an allergic attack, and it is this which is responsible for symptoms like a rash, itchiness and uncomfortable feelings that come from an allergic reaction. The itching caused by histamine production, in particular, can become almost unbearable.

Chronic itchiness

This is caused by long term health issues, such as eczema and psoriasis, both of which are autoimmune problems. The body produces far too many of the chemicals which cause itchiness, in an attempt to remove a reaction to something in the environment – stress is often a factor here, along with different weathers, foods and drinks, and other environmental factors.

Why hot water helps?

Why hot water helps

Hot water can actually remove the cause of the itching, by releasing the histamine contained in the cells that causes the itching. It is advised that you start with warm water, then slowly up the temperature until it is hot, then hotter than you would normally stand it. If you choose to shower rather than bath you can direct the hot water straight at the site of the itch, or you can start by bringing the jet slowly into contact with it if the itch is almost painful, so that you are not directing all the hot water at it straight away.

Hot water, especially a bath, can be a soothing and relaxing thing, so it is understandable that hot water can remove the itchiness if it is caused by a stressful situation. Also, very hot water can be slightly painful, which is a bit like scratching the itch – but without the danger of damaging the skin with sharp nails or repeated scratching.

Hot water can work wonders for insect bites, allergic reactions, poison oak or ivy, and even for chronic itching. But you shouldn’t try the hot water treatment for hives, as it can make the condition worse. Hot water will ease the irritation of itching, and it works better than the scratch-itch-scratch cycle, which can even lead to scratching so hard you break the skin. Hot water can, in many cases, work better than topical creams as these can occasionally cause more of the issue they are trying to prevent.

The hot water can reduce itching, whether chronic or acute, for long enough that the sufferer can get some sleep, or carry on functioning in their day, without the nagging, distracting discomfort of itching. Lots of people recommend running icy cold water over the affected area straight away after the hot water treatment. Here is also our selection of shower gels for dry skin that may help.

Final words

Hot water can temporarily reduce or even remove the intolerable irritation that comes with itching. It doesn’t do your body any harm to be submerged or showered in hot water, as long as you don’t allow it to become so hot that it burns your skin, so carry on reducing your itching with hot water – it’s just as effective as some over the counter remedies, and certainly less expensive. Whatever happens it is a good short term solution to your itching problem.

    1. Catherine R July 6, 2021
    2. Catherine R. July 6, 2021
    3. Sandy Mckins November 20, 2021
    4. Erik Oiseaux May 4, 2022
    5. Linda B schooley September 7, 2022

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