Itchy Skin Won't Let Up? Try This Derm's 5-Minute Hack For Instant Relief

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Man Touching His Forearm With Hand On Pink Background

Oh, itchy skin, one of winter's worst woes. Especially for those with sensitive skin conditions—eczema, psoriasis, and the like—as a dry, arid environment can trigger some relentless flares. Even so, it's a tough time of year for skin in general—your skin barrier weakens in the winter, which means it's easier for water to seep out, potential irritants setting up shop. 

Other than slathering on all the butters and salves you can get your hands on, experts often say: Don't scratch! Itching the dry patches only irritates the skin further and exacerbates the issue. You're better off relying on other ways to provide instant relief, like this tip from board-certified dermatologist Afton Chavez, M.D., FAAD. As she explains over TikTok, you can soothe itchy skin in a snap, without a single scratch. 

A derm's hack for itchy skin. 

It's a trick you might have heard once or twice: "Try putting moisturizing creams in the fridge." For the most part, most of us don't need to be chilling our beauty products—but for those of us who have itchy skin, it works. See, your moisturizers likely contain nourishing ingredients (ceramides, oat, squalane, etc.) to strengthen the skin barrier—which can help soothe dry, flaky skin from the get-go. But if you're facing an incessant itch at the moment, tossing those products in the fridge can provide instant relief. 

Take it from the science: Remember when we discussed why your face may itch while you work out? Well, one reason is that when your body generates heat—like, say, on a jog or even sweating under your puffer coat—it can cause your capillaries to expand. When that happens, it stimulates the surrounding nerve cells in your body—and your brain interprets that signal as an itch. 

Cooler temperatures effectively do the opposite: Instead of expanding capillaries, they constrict your blood vessels (a process called vasoconstriction), which "tricks the nerves that sense itch [and] leads to a cooling, soothing effect," says Chavez. 


The takeaway. 

If you're facing itchy, inflamed skin and need instant relief, try putting your moisturizers in the fridge for a few minutes and slather on the cool cream. There's a science-backed reason it feels so ahhh-inducing—by constricting the blood vessels, it "tricks" your nerves from stimulating the itch-response. 

Think of it as more of a quick fix: You'll still want to focus on the root cause of itch (focus on strengthening that skin barrier!), but it'll keep finicky fingers from doing more harm. 

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