An itchy throat can feel scratchy, ticklish, and uncomfortable – especially irritating when you talk or swallow. Sometimes this can also develop into a sore throat, but the good news is that help is at hand.
There are various factors that may cause your throat to itch, but allergies are one of the main reasons1.
Our immune system protects us against harmful bacteria and viruses, but it can sometimes have an allergic reaction to certain substances2. Things like pet dander and pollen can trigger symptoms, including an itchy throat.
Depending on the cause, you might find an itchy throat remedy by trying:
- A spoonful of honey
- Gargling salt water
- Sipping hot water or tea with lemon and honey
- Nasal sprays
- Lozenges and cough drops
However, these might not always be effective. Discover more about itchy throats and allergies – including causes, symptoms, and treatments to help you feel better.
Why Is My Throat Itchy?
There are various things that may cause your throat to itch, many of which are common and relatively harmless.
Here are some of the most common itchy throat causes:
- Allergies – Around 40 to 60 million Americans are affected by allergic rhinitis (hay fever)3, of which an itchy throat is a common symptom
- Viral infections – Flu, a cold and other viral infections can cause an itchy sore throat, which normally resolves itself over time1
- Bacterial infections – Strep throat, a more serious condition caused by a bacterial infection, can make your throat feel itchy1. If the soreness of your throat increases severely, this could be a sign you have strep throat
- Dehydration – When the body loses more water than it takes in, you can become dehydrated. In a warm, dry environment when your mouth and throat don’t have enough saliva, that may lead to an itchy throat4
- Medication – A side effect of certain medication may be a scratchy throat or dry cough. An allergy to a specific medication could also be a cause
- Acid reflux – Also known as heartburn, if stomach acid enters the food pipe, irritation to your throat can be one of the various symptoms. If you have this condition, it can occur more often when lying down5
- Smoke – Smoking cigarettes, spending time around others smoking, or smoke from an open fire can all cause throat irritation due to inhalation
Itchy Throat and Allergies
Wondering why allergies often cause an itchy throat? Your immune system works to fight off diseases by dealing with toxins, bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances that shouldn’t be there - and produces antibodies to help get rid of these. When you have allergies, these antibodies also attack harmless substances and irritants, which can lead to common symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and an itchy throat.
Some of the most common allergens that can trigger and cause an itchy throat are:
Understanding common allergy symptoms can help you figure out the cause of your symptoms and find an appropriate treatment. When an itchy throat is accompanied by any of the following, it may be a sign that the itchiness is caused by an allergy:
Itchy throat and runny nose
A runny/stuffy nose and itchy throat are common symptoms of rhinitis. Blood vessels swell when producing histamines to fight off the allergen, leading to nasal congestion and increased mucus, which results in a runny nose5.
Itchy throat and sneezing
Sneezing with an itchy nose is also common, as allergens irritate your body. The immune system informs your brain of a substance that shouldn’t be there (such as pollen or dander), which triggers a sneeze to try and force it out. Learn more about why pollen makes you sneeze.
Itchy throat and watery eyes
Along with your throat, your eyes might also be itchy or watery6. Again, an allergic reaction can cause your eyes as well as your nose and throat to release histamines if the allergen affects them. This can lead to red, itchy and/or watery eyes.
How to Get Rid of an Itchy Throat
To understand how to stop an itchy throat from bothering you, knowing the underlying cause is helpful. If you think allergies may be behind it, there are a few things you can try to prevent an itchy throat7:
- Avoid exposure – check pollen counts and keep inside when they are high. Try to stay away from areas with smoke, or animals whose dander may trigger your allergies
- Keep air clean – make sure the indoor air quality in your home is good. Using air conditioning inside with high-efficiency filters can help remove any allergens from the air
- Wash and clean – remove and wash clothes worn outside, clean floors with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, and wipe surfaces to remove potential allergens
Home Remedies for Itchy Throat
There are plenty of itchy throat home remedies that may help soothe any scratchiness and make you feel more comfortable:
Drink Hot Tea or Soup
Herbal, lemon and ginger tea may sooth your throat
Turn on the Humidifier
To help remove allergens and improve air quality.
Eat a Bit of Honey
A tablespoon of sweetness might just ease your itchy throat*
Add half a teaspoon to eight ounces of water, gargle for 10 seconds and then spit it out.
Clear Your Sinuses
Rinsing with saline solution or inhaling steam from a hot sink/bath may help your symptoms.
*Babies younger than 1 year should not be given honey
Allergy Medicines for Itchy Throat Relief
There are various types of over the counter (OTC) medicines that can help to provide itchy throat allergy relief.
The most popular of these are antihistamines, which block the histamines released to fight off invasions in your body – triggering allergies.
ZYRTEC® products contain the antihistamine cetirizine, and you can take these orally. Find relief from your symptoms with the following options:
- ZYRTEC® tablets – relieve symptoms, indoors and out, for 24 hours
- ZYRTEC® liquid gels – suitable for adults and children ages 6 and older
- ZYRTEC®-D tablets – all the allergy relief of ZYRTEC®, paired with a powerful decongestant
When to See a Doctor for an Itchy Throat
If you experience any of the following alongside an itchy throat, you should contact a doctor:
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe sore throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Swollen face
How long does an itchy throat last?
It depends on the underlying cause of an itchy throat. Generally, you can expect a tickly throat caused by a viral infection to last for up to 10 days. An itchy throat from allergies may last longer, depending on any treatment and the type of allergen.