Itchy skin at night can cause sleep problems. Natural causes, more serious health concerns, and other reasons can be why this happens.

For most people, natural mechanisms could be behind nighttime itch. Your body’s natural circadian rhythms, or daily cycles, influence skin functions like temperature regulation, fluid balance, and barrier protection.

Circadian rhythm

The skin functions change at night. Your body temperature and blood flow to your skin increase in the evening to warm you up. A rise in skin temperature can make you feel itchy.

Your body releases substances at different times of the day. You release more cytokines at night. The production of hormones that reduce inflammation slows.

Your skin loses more water at night. During the dry winter months, the skin on your body is dry.

Work and other activities distract you from the itch. The itch can be more intense at night because there are fewer people around.

A number of different health conditions can cause itchy skin to become worse at night. These include:

Here are a few medicines and home remedies to relieve itchy skin at night.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications

If you have a condition like a nerve disorder or a condition that causes itch, you should talk to your doctor. You can treat itch yourself with over-the-counter or prescription medicine. Some of the medicines are used to relieve the itch. Others help you sleep. A few do both.

  • Older antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Vistaril), and promethazine (Phenergan), relieve the itch and make you sleepy.
  • Newer antihistamines, such as fexofenadine (Allegra) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), are also helpful and may be taken at night or during the day.
  • Steroid creams stop the itch at the source.
  • Antidepressants like mirtazapine (Remeron) and doxepin (Silenor) have an anti-itch and sedative effect.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to check with your doctor before taking any new drugs or treatments.

Alternative treatments

To help you sleep, you could try melatonin. This natural hormone helps regulate sleep. When you take it nightly, it has a sedative effect that can help you sleep through the itch.

Home remedies and lifestyle changes

If stress aggravates your skin, try techniques like meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind.

You can also meet with a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This program helps reverse some of the negative or inaccurate thoughts and actions that aggravate your stress.

You can try these home remedies.

  • Apply a lubricating, alcohol-free moisturizer to your skin during the day and before bed.
  • Apply wet sucks to soothe the itch.
  • Take a bath in lukewarm water and colloidal oatmeal or baking soda.
  • Turn on a humidifier. It will add moisture to the air in your bedroom while you sleep.

If your skin is burned at night, here are a few things to avoid.

  • Try not to go to bed in anything itchy. You can wear pajamas made from soft, natural fibers like cotton or silk.
  • Keep the temperature in your room cool — around 60 to 65°F. Overheating can make you itch.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. They widen blood vessels and send more blood to warm your skin.
  • “Don’t use perfumed creams, scented soaps, or other products that might irritate your skin.”
  • Try not to scratch. You can cause more irritation to your skin. If you do feel the urge to scratch at night, try to keep your fingernails short.

If you have a primary care doctor or a dermatologist, talk to them.

  • “The itching doesn’t improve in 2 weeks.”
  • “The itch is so intense that you can’t sleep.”
  • You have other symptoms, such as a rash.

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor or a dermatologist, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a healthcare professional in your area.