When your skin is itchy, you have every reason to try just about anything and everything to cure it. Itchiness can cause stress, difficulty with sleeping and concentrating, self-consciousness, pain, bleeding, and overall lack of comfort in your own skin. The remedy that works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
The skin is our largest organ, and it has many jobs to do. It is our protective armor against germs and infections, weather, heat and cold, insects and parasites, chlorine in swimming pools—you name it. It regulates our body temperature by excreting sweat. It also provides us our sense of touch and our connection to the outer world. The skin is also part of the endocrine system in that it creates vitamin D in its interaction with the sun.
Your skin sheds tens of thousands of dead cells every day and is constantly producing new cells to replace them. When the body is under assault by chemical toxins or or psychological stressors, the effects are often reflected in the skin, which can produce painful, itchy rashes and lesions as a result.
Can pine tar soap help your skin’s defenses against the many causes of itchy skin? Let’s find out.
The Causes of Itchy Skin
The scientific name for itchy skin is “pruritus,” and it can have a range of both obvious and hidden causes. One of the greatest benefits of pine tar soap for itchy skin is that it can improve such a wide range of skin conditions. Many people use it daily as a proactive measure and to nip rashes, stings, bites, and dry skin in the bud.
Pine tar soap has a multifaceted effect on itchy skin. It’s antimicrobial, so it can help to stop the proliferation of itchy conditions that are caused by fungus or bacteria, thus addressing the problem at the source and potentially lessening the itch that is being caused by the microbes. Pine tar soap is a natural antiseptic, so it keeps the skin clean and clear of dirt and bacteria that might otherwise get into cuts and cracked or broken skin, protecting you from infection. Pine tar soap is anti-inflammatory, so it is soothing to skin that is already irritated. Along with all of these benefits, pine tar soap is also hydrating, so it has a healing effect on dry, flaky skin; dandruff; psoriasis; sunburn; and other dry, itchy skin conditions.
Here are some common causes of itchy skin, all of which may be improved by the use of pine tar soap:
Fungal Infections—With millions of types of fungi in the world, there are some differences in the areas of the body that they may affect and the symptoms that they cause. Their food is the dead keratin of our skin, hair, and nails. Common fungal infections include ringworm, thrush, yeast infections, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and candidiasis. Symptoms of fungal infections can include rashes, bumps, blisters, redness, chafing, oozing, and burning. Most fungal infections will cause some level of itchiness—sometimes even severe itch.
Psoriasis—The cause of the multiple forms of psoriasis—plaque psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, nail psoriasis, etc.—is not always easy to pinpoint. It can be triggered by cigarette smoking, strep throat or other infections, sunburn, weather conditions, and certain prescription medications. Psoriasis is marked by scaly, itchy, burning patches of ringed skin. It may affect localized areas of skin, or it can erupt in large patches all over the body. Psoriasis may flare up and go dormant in cycles.
Insects—Insect bites are itchy due to the proteins in the saliva they inject into our bloodstream in order to feed on us. There are many folk remedies that supposedly lessen the itchiness of insect bites, but few actually work. Many people, however, swear by the use of pine tar soap for itchy skin associated with bug bites. There’s also strong anecdotal evidence to show that it keeps bugs away. In fact, prior to World War II, the US Army Corps of Engineers used Packer’s Pine soap as their insect repellent of choice.
Allergies—An allergic reaction may happen as a result of the body raising its defenses against a perceived threat. In order to neutralize this perceived threat, the body releases substances such as histamines that produce an allergic reaction. Such reactions often cause rashes, hives, itchiness, or other skin conditions, as well as asthma, anaphylaxis, or infections. Pollen, mold, and dust can cause allergies. So can food allergens such as milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, pet dander, nuts, and penicillin.
Nerve Disorders—An itchy or crawling sensation on the skin can be caused by disorders of the nerves. “Crossed signals” can make it feel as if there is an irritant affecting the skin when there really isn’t. Shingles, nerve damage, and strokes may cause this type of phantom itch. Those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis may also experience itchy skin “for no reason.”
Contact Dermatitis—This is a major cause of itchy skin, and it’s very hard to pin down. Did you touch a surface that had been cleaned with a toxic chemical and now you have a rash? Maybe you’ve been exposed to an offending substance after visiting a new friend in their home, and now you’re itching. Or maybe you’ve tried a new personal care product. Or eaten in a new restaurant. All you know is that you now have a rash, and it seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Heat Exposure—Most of us know from experience that we, or our family members, are more prone to getting random rashes in the warmer months. Sweat can lodge in socks and undergarments during workouts or long periods outdoors, and before you know it, a heat rash can strike. This same concept can be in play when babies and toddlers develop diaper rash or eczema on the insides of their joints (elbows and knees), where the bacteria in sweat can build up and cause irritation.
Pregnancy—Pregnancy can be fertile ground for itchy skin conditions to rear their ugly heads. The hormones released during pregnancy can create a multiplicity of skin conditions you may not have experienced previously. Intrahepatic cholestasis is a condition of the liver frequently experienced in pregnancy that causes itching on the palms and soles of your feet–but no rash. Pemphigoid gestationis blisters can break out on your abdomen and spread to other parts of the body. Prurigo of pregnancy are rashes with inflamed, itchy bumps that can appear around the body at any stage of pregnancy. PUPP is another pregnancy-related itchy rash that can cause burning, stinging, and small or large lesions around the body. Acne can be another unfortunate side effect of pregnancy.
Pharmaceutical Side Effects—A wide range of drugs can trigger rashes as side effects. Some of these include ACE inhibitors, opioids, anti-cholesterol statin drugs, estrogens in birth control pills and other preparations, anti-arrythmia drugs, and pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Eczema—There seem to be almost countless causes of eczema. Food allergies, stress, body care products, reactions to medication…the list goes on. Eczema can be severely itchy and cause extensive redness, irritation, cracked and dry skin, and even bleeding and oozing.
Who Gets Itchy?
Sometimes, itchy skin just goes with the territory. If you work in an industry where itchy skin is an ever-present hazard, it may make sense to make pine tar soap your go-to cleanser as a preventative measure.
Farmers and Outdoor Professions—Gardeners, landscapers, farmers…basically anyone who spends time digging in the dirt may be exposed to a vast array of microorganisms and critters, some of which may cause itchiness. Poison ivy is a common cause of skin irritation and itch for those who work outside. Mosquitoes, spiders, ticks, and other insects are also to blame for bites that can sometimes cause out-of-control itchiness due to an overzealous immune response.
Manufacturing Professions—Those with chemical sensitivities may find that contact dermatitis is a workplace hazard in factories, where they may come into frequent contact with chemicals, detergents, grease, heavy metals, or acids and alkalis. Such contact can result in itchy rashes, blisters, boils, and even burns.
Chemists—Chemists quite obviously interact with chemical concoctions all day long. Despite preventative measures, skin will inevitably make contact with unwanted compounds now and then, resulting in itching and dryness.
Health Care Workers—Health care workers are subject to a number of possible workplace hazards. They frequently wash their hands with industrial strength soap in order to minimize germs, which may cause exceptionally dry hands. They often wear latex gloves, which some are sensitive to.
When Kids Itch
It seems that kids today have an endless array of allergies and environmental sensitivities. But you certainly don’t want to hold them back from getting outside and into the elements just to prevent bites and rashes. The versatility of pine tar soap makes it the ideal warrior in the fight against all the itches that can drive your kids crazy.
With their developing immune systems, kids can have unusual and unexpected reactions to their environment. Mosquito bites can blow up into welts and linger for a week or more. Hives can strike for seemingly no good reason. And don’t even get us started on poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Itch hazards seem to be everywhere in a kid’s daily life, and pine tar soap is a safe, effective, natural remedy for itchy skin. Pine tar soap can even tackle stubborn diaper rash and the itchiness associated with chickenpox.
In short, pine tar soap is indispensable when kids are around being their messy, itchy selves!
If you tend towards itchy skin, it might seem like every season has it in for you. Cold weather brings dry skin, but skin can suffer even more when indoor heating is running 24/7. Itchy, flaky skin and dandruff are hard to avoid for many of us during the coldest months.
On the other hand, the sun can do just as much damage to skin as the biting cold. Sunburn can wreak havoc on your skin, as can heat rashes, bug bites, and sweat. But no one wants to avoid warm weather just to save themselves from a little itch.
Fortunately, pine tar soap is a year-round solution for itchy skin. Keep a bar or a bottle of body wash on hand for all the seasons for dependable freshness and a daily dose of itch relief. Pine tar soap is also a handy, portable cleanser for camping trips and outdoor expeditions, doubling as a skin cleanser along with a detergent for pots and pans and other gear.
Why Pine Tar Works for Itchy Skin
The compounds in pine tar are remarkably suited to keep skin clean, clear, hydrated, and itch free. Because these compounds occur naturally when pine wood is heated to extremely high temperatures in a kiln, they occur in the correct balance that is a perfect antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-itch agent for the skin.
Here are the major components of pine tar, which is the main ingredient in pine tar soap:
Phenol—Phenol is used as a disinfectant and fungicide. At high concentrations it can be toxic, but it is a helpful cleansing agent in the amount found in pine tar soap.
Turpentine—Turpentine is obtained from pine wood and is commonly used as a paint thinner. However, turpentine is making a comeback in many forms of natural medicine. Like phenol, it is a necessary part of the synergistic effect of pine tar soap for itchy skin in its natural concentration (as found in pine tar soap).
Rosin—The rosin naturally found in pine tar is helpful in producing a thick, tacky lather, which accumulates around any itchy bumps, bites, and blisters, packing an extra punch in the shower or bath.
Toulene—This natural substance found in pine tar helps to carry the familiar, comforting scent of pine tar soap. While the fragrance will wear off gradually after bathing, most people consider the scent of pine tar soap to be part and parcel of its appeal.
Pine Tar Soap vs. Itchy Skin
Join our loyal fans from around the world who swear by pine tar soap for itchy skin. And if the anti-itch properties of this popular soap aren’t enough to convince you, consider a few more perks of pine tar soap.
- Pine tar soap is mild enough to be used in daily baths or showers, but potent enough to kill head lice.
- The resins in pine tar soap were traditionally used to prevent hoof infections in cattle and horses.
- The first recorded use of medicinal pine tar goes back to Hippocrates over 2000 years ago.
- Pine tar soap is gentle enough to be used for baby baths—check with your pediatrician to be sure this is right for your baby and their itchy skin.
- The use of topical pine tar has rarely been shown to produce any harmful side effects.
- Traditionally, pine tar soap was known to be able to remove the oils from poison ivy from the skin before the skin reaction broke out.
- As long as you keep it on the skin only, pine tar soap is safe to use on dogs to address hot spots, dry skin, and to keep them squeaky clean.
- Pine tar soap is moisturizing enough to be used on facial skin.
- Packer’s Pine soap has been made in the USA continuously since 1869—talk about social proof!