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Medications for Pruritus

Other names: Itching; Itchy Skin

What is Pruritus?

Pruritus is another name for itchy skin. Symptoms vary depending on the cause but may include:

  • Generalized itchy skin all over the body or an itch localized to just one or a few small areas
  • Patches of red, bumpy, or irritated looking skin
  • Leathery or scaly skin
  • Cracked skin
  • Areas of broken or bleeding skin where you have scratched
  • Isolated crusty patches of skin that weep or have pus from a bacterial infection
  • Dry skin in other areas.

For some people, it can be hard not to itch. Unfortunately, this makes the skin itchier and it can be difficult to break this itch-scratch cycle once it has started.

What Causes Pruritus?

Pruritus is more common as people age, because skin tends to become drier. Causes of pruritus include:

  • Burns
  • Dermatitis (eczema)
  • Dry skin
  • Hives
  • Insect bites
  • Nerve conditions, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, pinched nerves, or shingles
  • Pregnancy
  • Psoriasis
  • Psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Scabies
  • Scars
  • Underlying medical conditions (such as cancer, iron deficiency anemia, kidney failure, liver disease, or thyroid disease).

Sometimes doctors cannot find an underlying reason for the pruritus.

How is Pruritus Treated?

Treatment varies depending on the cause.

If dry skin is an underlying cause, then daily moisturizing is important, as is only using gentle cleansers and bathing in lukewarm water (hot water can dry out skin even more). Common treatments that may be used include:

  • Moisturizers
  • Anti-itch shower/bath products
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Oral SSRI antidepressants can also help relieve itch
  • Corticosteroid creams/ointments/lotions
  • Other creams/ointments (eg, calcineurin inhibitors, topical anesthetics, capsaicin)
  • Moist dressings
  • Phototherapy (light therapy).

See your doctor or a dermatologist (skin disease specialist) if your pruritus affects your whole body or has lasted more than two weeks and is not getting better with self-help measures. Also make an appointment if the itching is accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, fever, or changes in bowel habits.

Drugs used to treat Pruritus

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
hydroxyzine 6.7 37 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: hydroxyzine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

diphenhydramine 7.3 3 reviews
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Brand names:  Benadryl, Benadryl Allergy, Banophen, Benadryl Children's Allergy, Diphedryl, Allermax, Complete Allergy Relief, Dicopanol, Diphen, Dytuss, Scot-Tussin Allergy, Siladryl Allergy, Twilite, Valu-Dryl, Vanamine PD …show all

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Benadryl Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

gabapentin Off-label 8.1 8 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: gabapentin systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

hydrocortisone 8.3 4 reviews
Rx/OTC C N

Generic name: hydrocortisone topical

Brand names:  Cortizone-10, Ala-Cort, Anucort-HC, Ala-Scalp, Ala-Scalp HP, Anusol-HC, Anusol-HC Suppositories, Aquanil HC, Beta HC, Bioelements Immediate Comfort, Caldecort, Cortizone-5, Dermarest Plus Anti-Itch, Dermtex HC, Gynecort Maximum Strength, Itch-X Lotion, Locoid, Locoid Lipocream, NuCort, Pandel, Preparation H Anti-Itch Cream Hydrocortisone 1%, Procto-Med HC, Procto-Pak 1%, Proctocort, Proctozone HC, Rectasol-HC, Sarnol-HC, Texacort, U-Cort …show all

Drug class: topical steroids

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Benadryl Allergy 5.0 1 review
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

doxepin 9.0 2 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: doxepin topical

Brand names:  Prudoxin, Zonalon

Drug class: topical antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Zofran Off-label Rate Add review
Rx B N

Generic name: ondansetron systemic

Drug class: 5HT3 receptor antagonists

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

cyproheptadine Rate Add review
Rx B N X

Generic name: cyproheptadine systemic

Drug class: antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

ondansetron Off-label Rate Add review
Rx B N

Generic name: ondansetron systemic

Brand names:  Zofran, Zofran ODT

Drug class: 5HT3 receptor antagonists

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

ammonium lactate 9.0 2 reviews
Rx/OTC B N

Generic name: ammonium lactate topical

Brand names:  AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin, Geri-Hydrolac, Kerasal AL …show all

Drug class: topical emollients

For consumers: dosage, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

calamine 9.0 2 reviews
OTC N N

Generic name: calamine topical

Brand name:  Calamine Plain

Drug class: miscellaneous topical agents

For consumers: side effects

Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel Rate Add review
OTC B N

Generic name: diphenhydramine topical

Drug class: topical antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

lidocaine 5.0 1 review
Rx/OTC B N

Generic name: lidocaine topical

Brand names:  Xylocaine Jelly, AneCream, Bactine, CidalEaze, DermacinRx Lidotral´╗┐, DermacinRx Lido V Pak, Eha Lotion, Gen7T Lotion, Gen7T Patch, LidaMantle, Lidopin, LidoRx, Lidotrans 5 Pak, Lidovex, Lidozion, Lidozol, Lydexa, Medi-Quik Spray, Regenecare HA Spray, Xylocaine Topical …show all

Drug class: topical anesthetics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

Cortizone-10 10 1 review
OTC C N

Generic name: hydrocortisone topical

Drug class: topical steroids

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

diphenhydramine Rate Add review
OTC B N

Generic name: diphenhydramine topical

Brand names:  Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel , Itch Relief

Drug class: topical antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

Zofran ODT Off-label Rate Add review
Rx B N

Generic name: ondansetron systemic

Drug class: 5HT3 receptor antagonists

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Ala-Cort Rate Add review
Rx C N

Generic name: hydrocortisone topical

Drug class: topical steroids

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

AmLactin 9.0 1 review
Rx/OTC B N

Generic name: ammonium lactate topical

Drug class: topical emollients

For consumers: dosage, side effects

Anucort-HC Rate Add review
Rx C N

Generic name: hydrocortisone topical

Drug class: topical steroids

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Banophen Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Benadryl Children's Allergy Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Diphedryl Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N X

Generic name: diphenhydramine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Lac-Hydrin Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N

Generic name: ammonium lactate topical

Drug class: topical emollients

For consumers: dosage, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Xylocaine Jelly Rate Add review
Rx/OTC B N

Generic name: lidocaine topical

Drug class: topical anesthetics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under Pruritus

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.