Moisturizers and emollients can be beneficial adjunctive therapies to alleviate itch and are also usually inexpensive. These products moisturize, lubricate, and soothe dry and flaky skin Dry skin tends to worsen itch. Moisturizers and emollients produce an occlusive film that limits evaporation of water from the skin and increases the hydration of the stratum corneum, making it softer and more pliable. Epidermal cells are tightly packed and act as a barrier that maintains water within the skin. Often, chronic pruritus results from breakdown of the barrier function of the skin. Low pH moisturizers are particularly helpful in restoring the skin barrier function by maintaining the acidic pH of the skin's surface and reducing the irritative effects of pruritus. Application of a moisturizer throughout the day, particularly immediately after bathing, helps lock moisture in the skin. To be effective, the products must be applied liberally often up to 3 times daily.
However, moisturizers alone may not fully alleviate pruritus and additional medications are often needed.