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Medications for Pruritus

Other names: Itching; Itchy Skin

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.

Filter
Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
hydroxyzine 6.8 42 reviews for hydroxyzine to treat Pruritus
Rx N N X
Generic name:
hydroxyzine systemic
Brand name:
Vistaril
Drug class:
miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
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
diphenhydramine 8.0 4 reviews for diphenhydramine to treat Pruritus
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, Diphenhist, Dormin, Dytuss, Scot-Tussin Allergy, Siladryl Allergy, Silphen Cough, Twilite, Valu-Dryl, Vanamine PD
Drug class:
miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines, anticholinergic antiemetics, anticholinergic antiparkinson agents
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
gabapentin Off-label 8.3 9 reviews for gabapentin to treat Pruritus
Rx C N X
Generic name:
gabapentin systemic
Drug class:
gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Off-label:
Yes
Vistaril Rate Add review
Rx N N X
Generic name:
hydroxyzine systemic
Drug class:
miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
hydrocortisone 8.3 4 reviews for hydrocortisone to treat Pruritus
Rx/OTC C N
Generic name:
hydrocortisone topical
Brand names:
Cortizone-10, Ala-Cort, Anucort-HC, Locoid, Ala-Scalp, Ala-Scalp HP, Anusol-HC, Anusol-HC Suppositories, Aquanil HC, Aquax-H, Beta HC, Caldecort, Cortizone-5, Dermtex HC, Gynecort Maximum Strength, Hydroxym Gel, Itch-X Lotion, Locoid Lipocream, NuCort, Pandel, Preparation H Anti-Itch Cream Hydrocortisone 1%, Procto-Med HC, Proctocort, Proctozone HC, Sarnol-HC, Texacort, U-Cort
Drug class:
topical steroids
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
doxepin 9.0 2 reviews for doxepin to treat Pruritus
Rx B N X
Generic name:
doxepin topical
Brand names:
Prudoxin, Zonalon
Drug class:
topical antihistamines
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Benadryl Allergy 5.0 1 review for Benadryl Allergy to treat Pruritus
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
cyproheptadine 10 1 review for cyproheptadine to treat Pruritus
Rx B N X
Generic name:
cyproheptadine systemic
Drug class:
antihistamines
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
ondansetron 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:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Off-label:
Yes
ammonium lactate 9.0 2 reviews for ammonium lactate to treat Pruritus
Rx/OTC B N
Generic name:
ammonium lactate topical
Brand names:
AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin, AmLactin Cerapeutic, Amlactin Ultra, Geri-Hydrolac, Kerasal AL, Lac-Hydrin 5
Drug class:
topical emollients
For consumers:
dosage, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
calamine 9.0 2 reviews for calamine to treat Pruritus
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
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Cortizone-10 10 1 review for Cortizone-10 to treat Pruritus
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
lidocaine 5.0 1 review for lidocaine to treat Pruritus
Rx/OTC B N
Generic name:
lidocaine topical
Brand names:
AneCream, Bactine, CidalEaze, DermacinRx Lidotral´╗┐, DermacinRx Lido V Pak, Eha Lotion, Gen7T Lotion, Gen7T Patch, LidaMantle, Lidogel, LidoRx, Lidotrans 5 Pak, Lidozion, Lydexa, Medi-Quik Spray, Regenecare HA Spray, Xylocaine Jelly, Xylocaine Topical
Drug class:
topical anesthetics
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
pramoxine 9.6 5 reviews for pramoxine to treat Pruritus
Rx/OTC N N
Generic name:
pramoxine topical
Brand names:
Sarna Sensitive, Gold Bond Anti-Itch, Pramox, Prax
Drug class:
topical anesthetics
For consumers:
dosage, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph
AmLactin 9.0 1 review for AmLactin to treat Pruritus
Rx/OTC B N
Generic name:
ammonium lactate topical
Drug class:
topical emollients
For consumers:
dosage, side effects
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
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
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
Eurax 9.8 6 reviews for Eurax to treat Pruritus
Rx C N
Generic name:
crotamiton topical
Drug class:
topical anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, 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

Frequently asked questions

View more FAQ

Topics under Pruritus

Learn more about Pruritus

Care guides

Medicine.com guides (external)

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.
Expanded Access Expanded Access is a potential pathway for a patient with a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition to gain access to an investigational medical product (drug, biologic, or medical device) for treatment outside of clinical trials when no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy options are available.
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
M The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.
U CSA Schedule is unknown.
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.

Further information

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