This has brought lots of memories flooding back.
From early teens till my 30s was when I suffered the most. Looking back, it was probably hard for my mother. She tried all sorts of remedies and diets (hard to cook special food when you're poor and there are 4 other kids).
What changed in my 30s? On the advice of my doctor, I started using Dove soap (any flavour). The built-in moisturiser has broken the cycle where I'd start getting itchy after a shower (and basically stay itchy till my next shower).
Before that I was using all sorts of natural, no-additive, etc, etc soaps. My doctor's response to this was "they're all still basically detergents" (and therefore remove any natural oils from the skin). I can honestly say it's changed my life.
Other things that have helped massively:
- keeping my fingernails very short so nocturnal scratching doesn't leave me bleeding any more.
- steroid creams but only mild ones and in extreme moderation. (If I could tell my younger self to go easy on the steroid creams, I would. The skin on my hands is so thin now it breaks very easily.)
- creams for dry skin. My personal favourites: QV lotion for daily use, L'Occitane shea butter cream for when it gets really dry (it's not cheap but it goes an incredibly long way).
- eat well. Less fast food and alcohol, more whole foods.
- get enough sleep
- finding ways to break the itch/scratch cycle (whatever works for you).
Unmanaged, it can massively affect your quality of life. I don't know where I'd be without that doctor's advice.