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What types of anti-itch creams are good to use?


Updated May 29, 2014

Itchy Skin Remedies
Jonathan Storey Collection/Stone
Question: What types of anti-itch creams are good to use?
Answer: Essentially, anti-itch creams contain one of three different types of active medications: topical antihistamines, topical anesthetics and topical steroids. Topical antihistamines, such as those found in Benadryl Cream and Caladryl Lotion, should not be used since these medications can result in a person becoming allergic to either the oral or topical forms of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) in the future.

Topical anesthetics, such as found in Lanacane Cream (benzocaine), can cause contact dermatitis. While these products may have some benefit, especially for dental uses (such as with Orajel for mouth pain), they are not recommended for the treatment of itchy skin.

Topical steroids are the best choice of an anti-itch cream. They are available in a variety of strengths and formulas, and can be purchased over the counter as hydrocortisone cream. While topical steroids should be used with caution and generally under the direction of a physician, they generally have few side effects when used for short periods of time and when taken as prescribed.

Find out more about topical steroids for allergic skin diseases.


Atopic Dermatitis Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004;93:S1-21.

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