Why is it that the part of your body that always seems to get the itchiest is also the one that’s hardest to reach? An itchy back is extremely common and extremely frustrating, which is why it’s so important to have a good back scratcher on hand for those times when an itch is driving you crazy.
While selecting a back scratcher might seem pretty simple, not all back scratchers are the same, so it’s important to know exactly what to look for when you’re shopping. That means deciding on the best material, length, and other features to guarantee that your back scratcher can relieve that tormenting itch. With so many back scratchers to choose from, it can get confusing.
At BestReviews, we can help make shopping a little easier. We’ll handle the product research, so you can focus on finding the perfect products for your home. If you’re hunting for the ideal back scratcher, our handy shopping guide has all the tips and tricks you need.
Why does your back itch?
The most common cause of pesky itches is dry skin, so it makes sense that the back is often itchy. It’s a difficult spot to reach, which means that doesn’t usually get exfoliated or moisturized regularly. The buildup of dry, dead skin cells that gives the skin surface a rough, scaly texture can definitely cause itchiness that’s hard to ignore.
Allergies and irritants
An itchy back can also be caused by irritation or an allergy related to items that come into contact with the skin, such as clothing, soap, or laundry detergent. Exposure to toxic substances like poison ivy can also cause itchy skin.
In some cases, itchy skin is a symptom of a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis or an underlying health condition like a thyroid issue. If you notice that your back is persistently itchy for more than two weeks or the itch is so severe that it affects your daily routine and sleep schedule, you should see your doctor for a checkup.
Avoid using a back scratcher on skin that has open wounds, scratches, redness, irritation, or other symptoms of an allergic reaction. You could make the condition worse.
Back scratcher features to consider
Back scratchers are usually made of plastic, wood, or metal. All three materials can be effective, so choosing an option usually comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Plastic is typically the least expensive material for a back scratcher, so it can be a good option if you’re on a budget. But a plastic back scratcher can be pretty flimsy, which means that it could break easily and require more frequent replacement.
Wood is a much more durable material for a back scratcher, though you’ll usually pay more for it. Wooden back scratchers also offer a more attractive appearance compared to plastic and even metal ones. The drawback to a wooden back scratcher is that it can absorb oils from the skin over time, which can leave it with a slick surface that isn’t as effective for scratching itchy skin.
Metal back scratchers are extremely durable and unlikely to break. Many are made of stainless steel, so rust isn’t a problem. Some metal back scratchers are also easy to bend, which enables you to create the ideal angle for scratching a particular itch. Unlike wood, metal doesn’t absorb oils.
In order for your back scratcher to be as comfortable and effective as possible to use, it should be long enough to enable you to reach your entire back without having to put too much stress on your wrist, elbow, or shoulder. In most cases, that means choosing a back scratcher that’s at least 18 to 22 inches long.
Head width and “finger” length
The head of the back scratcher, the end with the “fingers,” is the portion that actually does the scratching, so it needs to be an adequate size to effectively relieve the itch. Look for a head that’s wide enough to keep from tipping on its side, which would only allow the side or corner to come into contact with your back as you move it.
It’s also important to pay attention to the length of the back scratcher’s fingers. Too short and it won’t provide enough leverage, which means you could strain your shoulder or elbow trying to scratch your back.
To make sure that it performs well, the head of the back scratcher should be firmly connected to the shaft. One-piece back scratchers tend to be the best option. If the edge is threaded or glued onto the shaft, it’s more likely to break off over time.
A firm grip on the back scratcher enables you to control the downward pressure required to scratch your back. Some back scratchers have a rubberized grip to make it especially easy to keep a good hold on the tool as you use it.
If you’re prone to an itchy back, you might prefer a back scratcher that you can easily take with you. You can find collapsible back scratchers that fold or telescope down to a more compact size for storage and travel. These are ideal for tossing in your bag when you leave the house.
Back scratcher prices
Back scratcher prices vary depending on the length and material. In general, you can expect to pay between $1 and $20 for a back scratcher.
Inexpensive: Plastic back scratchers are typically the least expensive option, ranging from $1 to $5.
Mid-range: Wooden back scratchers range from $6 to $11, depending on length.
Expensive: Metal back scratchers range from $7 to $20, depending on length and whether they fold or telescope.
For an itchy upper back and shoulders, it’s best to hold a back scratcher over your shoulder and use it in a downward direction.
For an itchy middle and lower back, it’s best to hold a back scratcher at your lower back and use it in an upward direction.
To keep your back scratcher clean, wipe it down with a cloth dampened with water and mild dish soap. Wipe it again with a clean, damp rag to rinse it, and then dry it with a clean towel before putting it away.
Keep wooden back scratchers out of direct sunlight. The UV rays can dry out the wood, making it more brittle and prone to splintering.
Avoid using your back scratcher too much. If your itch is related to a rash, you can make the itching worse by scratching it too much.
Q. How long does a back scratcher usually last?
A. The lifespan of a back scratcher depends mainly on the material it’s made of and how well it’s constructed. An inexpensive plastic back scratcher can easily snap if you’re scratching too vigorously. One-piece wooden and metal back scratchers are extremely durable and can last for years. Telescopic metal back scratchers are more prone to breakage and might only last half that long, depending on how rough you are with them.
Q. What type of back scratcher head works best through clothing?
A. If you plan to use your back scratcher primarily over your clothes, look for a model with a blunt head. Back scratchers that feature individual finger-like extensions or spikes could wind up snagging your clothing. Make sure the scratching end is fairly wide and strong, so it can easily scratch through your clothes.
Q. What features make a back scratcher more versatile?
A. In terms of back-scratching performance, models that are expandable or telescopic are the most versatile because you can adjust the length based on the user. Some back scratchers are even bendable to make it easier to scratch hard-to-reach spots. There are also some models designed to serve two purposes: one end relieves the itch and the other makes it easier to put on your shoes.