Itchy skin can be incredibly annoying, but a 2016 human study investigating the use of topical peppermint oil for chronic pruritus (persistent itching) showed that applying peppermint oil topically to the affected areas led to significant improvements in itch severity, duration, degree, direction, disability, and distribution. These results suggest that peppermint oil could be a natural, safe, and effective solution for providing relief from chronic itching.
The study involved 50 individuals with chronic itching caused by liver, kidney, or diabetes-related conditions. The participants were divided into two groups of 25, and both groups used a petroleum jelly-like substance called petrolatum. However, there was a key difference between the groups: Group I used a formulation that contained 5% topical peppermint oil in petrolatum, while Group II used petrolatum alone as a placebo. The participants applied their respective treatments twice daily to the itchy areas for a duration of two weeks.
The severity of the itch was measured using a scale called the 5-D itch scale before and after the study. The researchers then used statistical methods to analyze the results and determine if there were any noticeable differences between the two groups.
The findings revealed that the group using peppermint oil experienced significant improvements in all aspects of itching, including duration, severity, direction, disability, and distribution. The cooling properties of peppermint oil, attributed to its active ingredient menthol, may offer relief by activating certain nerve fibers and binding to specific receptor sites.
Notably, peppermint oil was easy to use, safe, and well-tolerated, making it an appealing option for individuals who may struggle with other treatments. It's important to note that no significant side effects were reported, adding to the safety profile of peppermint oil.
While further research is needed to determine the optimal concentrations and varieties of peppermint oil, these findings provide encouraging evidence for its use in alleviating chronic itching. With its refreshing scent and soothing properties, this study shows peppermint oil can be a great tool against chronic itchiness, offering a natural, accessible, safe, and cost-effective solution.
Study Title: Effectiveness of topical peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066694