Eczema & Scratching - Scratch Prevention for Children
Maybe your child doesn’t have claws like a cat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do just as much damage to their own skin by scratching. The constant, overwhelming itch is one of the most frustrating symptoms of eczema, and possibly the most overwhelming for a child.
Trying to resist the urge to scratch when you are an adult is almost impossible. Now imagine a 3-year-old trying to refrain from scratching. The reality is that scratching doesn’t only bring relief, it also feels good! However, during an eczema flare-up, it just makes things worse. It can damage the skin, leading to bleeding and infection which prolong the healing time.
Even if a child is able to somehow stop themselves from scratching during the daytime, at night it becomes even more difficult. During the daytime there are the distractions of life, but at night, they are laying in a dark, quiet room with nothing but their itchiness to keep them company.
Thankfully, there are some strategies that you can employ to keep their claws off their sensitive skin:
Mitigate the damage
Although you hopefully will be able to reduce the amount of scratching your child does throughout the day, it is unrealistic to expect that you can eliminate it completely. That is why you should take measures to mitigate the damage they can do to their skin. Make sure that you cut their fingernails as closely as possible and, if possible, dull the edges and round the corners with a nail file. That way, if they do scratch, they at least won’t be able to dig into the skin. If they are scratching in their sleep, try Eczema Treatment Gloves before bed. The soft material will help prevent any major damage, and again, keep their fingernails away from the inflamed skin. Gloves worn over an eczema emollient such as Vaniply will also treat hand eczema while they sleep.
One of the reasons kids itch even more in bed is because there are no distractions. Playing soft music or audio in the background could give them something to focus on other than the urge to scratch. Of course, check to make sure that the audio itself isn’t keep your children awake!
Wet Wrap Therapy
Wet wrap therapy is the best treatment for calming nighttime itchy eczema. Studies report a decrease in eczema symptoms by 75%. Performing wet wrap therapy just before bed reduces the itchiness by infusing intense moisture into the skin and covering it with soft material. Scratching the sensitive areas will be more difficult with a few layers covering the skin and the slow evaporation causes a cooling effect that relieves the itch. Children awake with smoother skin, major improvements to their inflammation and less damage from less scratching.
Parents of eczema kids are well aware of the wonders/dangers of steroid creams. In the short term, these creams can provide almost instant relief and help heal the skin. In the long term, they can cause thinning of the skin and a rebound effect that can cause even worse irritation. Therefore, it is best to keep these for emergencies, under the supervision of a medical professional. If they recommend using a small amount before bed, it might give your child enough relief to finally get to sleep
When you are too warm, you sweat. And when you sweat, you itch. At night, if a child is too warm under the covers, their sweating can make the itchiness that much worse. Work out the optimal amount of bedding for your children and adjust the sheets and blankets by season. Putting them in lightweight, breathable PJs, such as the eczema rescue suit, can help to prevent overheating and minimize itching with the anti-itch fabric.
Scratching is a habit, and we all know how difficult habits are to break. Keep an eye on your child, pay attention to when they are scratching, and help them to develop an awareness of scratching. These steps will help to pay dividends whenever they have a bad flare up!