The 10 Best Anti-Itch Creams of 2021

These OTC options target everything from seasonal dry skin to psoriasis

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First Look

Best Overall: Sarna Original Anti-Itch at Amazon

"It's a great solution for dry skin in the winter, and is an effective remedy to minor scrapes, burns, and insect bites."

Best for Dry Skin: Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion at Amazon

"This lotion is a great option for general dryness, poison ivy, bug bites, rashes, and other light skin irritations."

Best for Children: CeraVe Baby Moisturizing Lotion at Dermstore

"This lotion provides 24-hour hydration and helps restore the skin’s protective outer layer without any parabens, phthalates, or fragrances."

Best for Bug Bites: After Bite at Amazon

"It comes in an easy-to-apply container, for convenience in any outdoor setting—no messy application required."

Best for Pruritus: EmuaidMAX at Amazon

"EmuaidMAX contains Argentum Metallicum and kills bacteria, fungus, and mold on contact."

Best for Eczema: Eucerin Eczema Relief at Amazon

"Eucerin is fragrance and steroid-free, which is necessary as individuals with eczema can be extra sensitive to unnatural chemical additives."

Best for Delicate Areas: Vagisil Anti-Itch Sensitive Cream at Amazon

"Vagisil is hypoallergenic and is able to heal every day itches as well as the itchy side effects of yeast infections."

Best for Allergies: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for Itch Relief at Amazon

"It's clinically tested and developed with dermatologists, with 100 percent of people reporting an improvement in their skin within the first couple of minutes."

Best for Shingles: DermaChange Symptoms Relief at Amazon

"DermaChange Symptoms Relief cream contains all-natural ingredients, for irritant-free healing that works to balance the pH level of the skin."

Best Strongest: Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength at Amazon

"It cools irritation while soothing a variety of skin irritations, thanks to its fast-acting, no-nonsense formula."

Many individuals experience some sort of skin irritation within their lifetime. Whether that means dry hands due to cold weather or an eczema outbreak from stress and anxiety, itchy skin is annoying for everyone. Anti-itch cream is an easy, over-the-counter solution for many common causes of skin irritation and itchiness.

When choosing an anti-itch cream, it’s important to consider active ingredients that may cause an unwanted reaction, the soothing properties it contains, and the ingredients that target the problem you’re facing. 

Here are a few of the best itch creams on the market that target everything from general dryness to chronic skin conditions.

Best Overall: Sarna Original Anti-Itch

Pros
  • Gentle but effective

  • Can be used daily

  • Instant cooling relief


Cons
  • Doesn’t reduce inflammation

  • Strong odor


Sarna Original Anti-Itch is steroid-free, fast-acting, safe for daily use, and has cooling properties that immediately soothe the skin. It works on a variety of conditions, including poison ivy burns, sunburns, and sumac rashes. It's a great solution for dry skin in the winter and is an effective remedy to minor scrapes, burns, and insect bites.

“The best overall anti-itch cream is Sarna. It contains a combo of menthol and camphor, which creates a soothing feeling over the skin and helps to calm that itch/scratch cycle," says Caroline A. Chang, MD, FAAD of the Rhode Island Dermatology Institute. "You can use it multiple times a day without damaging your skin or causing adverse side effects.”

Active Ingredients: Camphor (0.5%), Menthol (0.5%)

Dose: Apply a thin layer up to 4 times daily

Uses: Bug bites, poison ivy rashes, sunburn, dry skin

Best for Dry Skin: Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion

Pros
  • Made with soothing oatmeal

  • Skin protectant

  • Analgesic for pain relief

Cons
  • Strong odor


  • May irritate some types of skin


If you need a simple lotion to help moisturize your dry skin, Aveeno’s Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion is an excellent choice. Its simple formula contains a triple oat complex, and studies have shown that oat-containing personal products have low-irritate potential and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction than other active ingredients. Aveeno’s Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion is a great option for general dryness, poison ivy, bug bites, rashes, and other light skin irritations.

Active Ingredients: Calamine (3%), Pramoxine HCl (1%)

Dose: Apply a thin layer 3-4 times daily

Uses: Poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes, insect bites, shingles, chicken pox rash

You need to be careful with applying any steroid long-term to any part of the skin. It can thin the skin over time, causing itchy fungal rashes to get worse, and delay you from getting appropriately diagnosed for something that could have long-term issues. —Caren Campbell, M.D., San Francisco-based dermatologist

Best for Children: CeraVe Baby Moisturizing Lotion

Cerave baby
Pros
  • Hypoallergenic 

  • Long-lasting hydration

  • Boosts skin health with ceramides and hyaluronic acid

Cons
  • May not be powerful enough for some types of dry skin

  • Cream formula can be harder to spread

When you’re finding the right anti-itch cream for babies and children, you'll want to make sure the ingredients are calming and not prone to causing allergic reactions. This can be tricky because their allergies might not be apparent yet. CeraVe Baby lotion provides 24-hour hydration (so fewer reapplications) and helps restore the skin’s protective outer layer without any parabens, phthalates, or fragrances, so there's less likely to be an adverse reaction. 

Active Ingredients: Dimethicone (1%)

Dose: Apply as needed

Uses: Moisturization for dry, itchy skin; protection of sensitive skin; relief from chapped or chafed skin

Best for Bug Bites: After Bite

Pros
  • Easy to apply

  • Portable, no-mess applicator

  • Instant relief from insect bites


Cons
  • Formula changed; some users find new ingredients not as effective

  • Doesn’t hydrate or moisturize

After Bite is a pharmacist-recommended anti-itch cream, with its key active ingredient being baking soda (a common home remedy for bug bites) for instant relief. It comes in an easy-to-apply container for convenience in any outdoor setting—no messy application required. 

Active Ingredients: Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

Dose: Apply as needed

Uses: Relief from insect bites and stings; relief from poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes

Best for Pruritus: EmuaidMAX

Pros
  • Eliminates possible causes of pruritus on contact

  • Reduces inflammation


  • Can help with many itching skin conditions


Cons
  • Costly compared to the amount you receive

  • May cause irritation or allergic reaction (tea tree oil)

Pruritus, an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that creates the urge to scratch, can be overwhelming if individuals don't find the right cream to ease their pain. EmuaidMAX contains Argentum Metallicum and kills bacteria, fungus, and mold on contact. It also contains tea tree oil for anti-inflammatory properties. All of those things–bacteria, fungus, mold, and inflammation—are possible causes of pruritus and can easily get out of hand if not handled correctly. EmuaidMAX does that with a natural, soothing, effective formula that can assist in healing over 100 skin irritations. 

Active Ingredients: Argentum Metallicum

Dose: Apply thin layer 3-4 times daily

Uses: Fungal skin infections (skin yeast, jock itch, ringworm), eczema, psoriasis, shingles

Best for Eczema: Eucerin Eczema Relief

Pros
  • Contains soothing colloidal oatmeal

  • Fragrance- and steroid-free

  • Safe for sensitive skin

Cons
  • May take a few days to work

Eczema can be triggered by a variety of things: soaps and detergents, heat, low humidity, and even emotional stress. Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream’s active ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, a natural way to soothe irritated, broken-out skin. It helps ease dry skin’s itchy tendencies while healing rashes and irritation. Eucerin is fragrance and steroid-free, which is necessary for individuals with eczema who are extra sensitive to unnatural chemical additives.  

Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal (1%)

Dose: Apply as needed

Uses: Relieving itchy, dry skin due to eczema; protecting eczema-prone skin to avoid flare-ups

For adults and children with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, products with colloidal oatmeal can protect and soothe the skin. This ingredient is very gentle, helping to balance the pH of the skin, cleanse without overdrying, and pull water to otherwise dry skin, making it less itchy, irritated, and red. —Caren Campbell, M.D., San Francisco-based dermatologist

Best for Delicate Areas: Vagisil Anti-Itch Sensitive Cream

Pros
  • Cooling aloe and soothing oatmeal ingredients

  • Hypoallergenic for extra sensitive skin

  • Fast relief of itching

Cons
  • OTC steroids can thin the skin over time

  • May cause burning or irritation


Itchy skin is always uncomfortable, but it can be downright awkward when your intimate areas are irritated. Vagisil’s Anti-Itch Sensitive Cream provides all the elements you need for low maintenance healing. Its hydrocortisone assures long-lasting relief for minimal reapplication, while oatmeal and aloe work to naturally cool and heal the irritated area.

Vagisil is hypoallergenic and is able to heal everyday itching as well as the itchy side effects of yeast infections. If the area does not feel better after seven days of use, consult your doctor.

Active Ingredients: Hydrocortisone Acetate (1%)

Dose: Apply thin layer 3-4 times daily

Uses: Relief of itching in vaginal area associated with dermatitis or yeast infections; not for intravaginal use

Best for Allergies: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for Itch Relief

Pros
  • Non-comedogenic 


  • Relieves painful itching with external analgesic

  • Contains soothing shea butter

Cons
  • Cream formulation may be too thick for some users


If you have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated, you'll want an anti-itch cream that can make you feel better without adding any ingredients that may further irritate your skin. CeraVe Itch Relief is clinically tested and developed with dermatologists, with 100% of people (all with different types of skin) reporting an improvement in their skin within the first couple of minutes of application. It contains pramoxine hydrochloride as well as healing inactive ingredients like shea butter. It does not contain steroids, fragrances, or sulfates and is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores.

Active Ingredients: Pramoxine Hydrochloride (1%)

Dose: Apply 3-4 times daily 

Uses: Dry skin, sunburn, insect bites, rashes

Best for Shingles: DermaChange Symptoms Relief

Pros
  • Reduces shingles symptoms

  • Relieves nerve pain

  • Absorbs easily

  • All-natural, chemical-free formulation


Cons
  • Added ingredients could cause irritation


The physical sign of shingles is often a row of painful, fluid-filled blisters or a red, bumpy rash. Both require careful consideration when looking for treatment. DermaChange Symptoms Relief Cream contains all-natural ingredients for irritant-free healing that works to balance the pH level of the skin. This lotion helps heal the skin in a gentle, non-irritating way, making it ideal for someone with shingles.

Active Ingredients: None (no chemical ingredients included)

Dose: Cover affected area as needed, or 4-6 times daily for maximum relief

Uses: Treating the blisters, rash, and nerve pain of shingles infection

Applying steroids to the face can cause acne or trigger conditions like perioral dermatitis. Care must be taken on the eyelid, as use of steroids on the thin eyelid skin can cause [rapid thinning and even cataracts] if it comes in contact with the eye. —Caren Campbell, M.D., San Francisco-based dermatologist

Best Strongest: Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength

Cortizone 10
Pros
  • Hydrocortisone reduces inflammation

  • Aloe vera cools on contact

  • Calms itchy skin so it can heal

Cons
  • Maximum strength formula may be irritating to sensitive skin

Corizone 10 Maximum Strength brings hydrocortisone and aloe for the strongest, quickest anti-itch relief. It cools irritation while soothing a variety of skin irritations, thanks to its fast-acting, no-nonsense formula. The strength of this cream assures relief and is a great option to keep in your medicine cabinet or backpack to quickly calm your skin after unexpected irritation.

Active Ingredients: Hydrocortisone (1%)

Dose: Apply to affected area up to 4 times daily

Uses: Eczema, dry or irritated skin, insect bites, dermatitis

Final Verdict

When it comes to overall itch relief, Sarna Original Anti-Itch Lotion is a great place to start. It alleviates irritation from cuts, burns, and bug bites, and can be used daily. If you're looking for something a little stronger Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength can help moisturize and relieve the most irritated skin. It’s important to note that while all of these anti-itch creams are able to assist with minor to medium irritations, they may not be able to heal skin irritations entirely. If you aren’t feeling any better after a week or two of use, it may be time to consult your dermatologist.

What to Look for in an Anti-Itch Cream

Active Ingredient

An anti-itch cream’s active ingredient is the element that will make the biggest healing difference on your skin. This can range from natural elements like aloe vera to more medical elements like menthol. The active ingredient determines what the cream focuses on healing.

“When looking for anti-itch cream, the key thing is the active ingredient. Hydrocortisone is great for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and bug bites. Menthol and camphor are good for nerve itch such as brachoradial pruritus or possibly post-herpetic (post shingles) pain, only if it is mild," says Dr. Chang. "If severe, please see your dermatologist as soon as possible for additional treatments. Topical anesthetics such as pramoxine (found in Sarna sensitive) help with histamine related itch such as hives. Please note: I do not recommend topical Benadryl for any types of skin itch. It has been known to cause contact dermatitis.”

Possible Irritants

Another thing to note when looking for an anti-itch cream is possible irritants. This is especially important for individuals with sensitive skin; if you generally avoid fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and other chemical additives, it’s best to do that when picking out anti-itch creams as well. Unnatural ingredients like steroids, while often effective for medical purposes, may have undesirable effects. Ultimately, individuals need to be aware of what they are putting on their skin so they can make the decision that’s best for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should anti-itch cream burn?

    Ideally, no—but it’s an unfortunate possibility when you use creams versus ointments, says San Francisco-based dermatologist Caren Campbell, M.D. While you shouldn’t expect to feel discomfort after using an anti-itch cream, this type of formulation often contains alcohol, which can burn when applied to skin that is scratched, sensitive and open, explains Dr. Campbell.

    If you find that your anti-itch cream is causing irritation, it’s best to stop and find something that’s gentler on your skin. Ointments, as Dr. Campbell suggests, don’t contain alcohol; they shouldn’t burn, and often stay on the skin better, too.

  • Is anti-itch cream safe for tattoos?

    When your fresh tattoo is very fresh, i.e. your skin barrier is still broken, the only topical treatments you should apply are Vaseline, Cerave Healing Ointment, or a prescription antibiotic ointment like mupirocin, says Dr. Campbell. Once your skin barrier is intact again, many anti-itch creams are safe to use on tattoos—but only in the short-term.

    “OTC hydrocortisone ointment for a few days on a tattoo with a normal skin barrier is okay, but long-term use is not recommended as it can thin the skin or make [any fungal] infections worse,” advises Dr. Campbell. 

    You shouldn’t need to use hydrocortisone treatments on your tattoo for more than a few days post-inking; if you’re finding that your tattoo is excessively itchy, there could be something else going on requiring a dermatologist visit.

    “If [your tattoo is itching] and the skin barrier is intact, you might be allergic to the pigment that was used,” Dr. Campbell says, adding that yellow and red inks have been most commonly associated with allergic reactions. “Infection can also be associated with tattoos, so if the itching, irritation, or healing of the tattoo is taking time or is persistent, you should get it checked by a board-certified dermatologist.”

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a previous fitness coach, long-time wellness enthusiast, and current health editor, Lily Moe understands the importance of products that meet your individual requirements. As someone who has dealt with eczema, Lily has gone through dozens of anti-itch creams, from heavily medicated to all-natural—she knows how crucial it is to be wise in what ingredients you put on your skin for your specific need! Most importantly, Lily always looks for research and first-hand reviews when it comes to deciding on a product.

Additional reporting to this story by Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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  1. Criquet M, Roure R, Dayan L, Nollent V, Bertin C. Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmealClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2012;5:183-193. doi:10.2147/CCID.S31375