Stop the Itch in Eczema - Is It Possible?

Stop the Itch in Eczema - Is It Possible?

Anne Fairchild McVey

The itch in eczema is relentless; preventing sleep and making it hard to concentrate on daily tasks. Some eczema sufferers say it is similar to the itch in poison ivy. How absolutely miserable! I feel lucky I don't have eczema but my youngest daughter, my sister and my nephew all have eczema and they just can't seem to stop itching! What can be done to help stop the itch that can make you feel like you're loosing your mind? Below is a diagram of the itch-scratch cycle.  It is important to know the cycle so you can stop it.  As you can see from the diagram the eczema is first started by being introduced to an allergen/irritant.  So if you can control being exposed to an allergen/irritant you are moving in the right direction as far as controlling the itch in eczema.  It is important to know that the scratching causes damage to the skin thus letting bacterial into the damaged skin which releases an inflammatory chemical that allows more of the allergen/irritant to enter and then the dreaded itch-scratch cycle of eczema begins.  This itch-scratch cycle of eczema can not only be physically draining for the eczema sufferer but can also cause extreme emotional distress.  Below are some tips to help you break the itch-scratch cycle of eczema.

Avoid Irritants

Irritants can trigger eczema or aggravate existing eczema and make it worse. Discovering what triggers your eczema can help you manage eczema and greatly minimize the symptoms. Irritants are different for everyone but avoiding know eczema irritants can minimize symptoms and make it easier to manage eczema. Some common irritants or eczema triggers are common household cleaning products, laundry detergents, soaps, perfumes, wool and synthetic clothing. Certain foods such as milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, and soy could be irritating your eczema and an elimination diet can help you find out which food group is the culprit. There are also environmental allergens that can irritate you eczema such as temperature and humidity. Along with heat - sweat can really aggravate eczema. Dust mites is a irritant. Pet dander is also a common irritant. You also may want to consider pollen. Are you feeling overwhelmed, please don’t. The more you experiment with the above list, the more you will know about your eczema and how to manage it. 

Encasings: 

Dust mites can aggravate eczema and itching increases at night. Encasing your bedding can really help knock down the allergens in your bedroom. What is an encasing? An encasing is an allergen-proof barrier that completely surrounds a pillow, mattress or box spring, preventing the escape and subsequent inhalation of allergy-causing particles. Our favorite place for encasings is Mission: Allergy. Mission: Allergy is owned by Dr. Jeffery Miller who is an allergist so we feel his products are superior. They are superior to other encasings in both the quality of the barrier fabric and the quality of the sewing construction. Their encasings are made from breathable barrier fabric that allows air and water vapor to pass, while blocking all allergens. You can visit Mission: Allergy at www.MissionAllergy.com.

Bleach Baths: 

We have heard feedback that bleach baths can help the itch for eczema sufferers, especially if their eczema skin is prone to infection. Talk to your doctor about bleach baths or check the National Eczema Association on bleach baths and other baths that can be beneficial for eczema http://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/bathing/types-of-baths/

Cold: Cold or cool helps the intense itch for some individuals that suffer from eczema. You can put ice in a bag and place it on the itch. Some have recommended a cold wash cloth be applied to the itch or run cool water over the itch.

Wet wrap therapy: Wet wrap therapy has been advocated by doctors as a safe and effective treatment for eczema.  New research is finding it not only heals the eczema up to 71% in 5 days but also cuts the need for topical steroids especially in children.  Wet wrap therapy works when all else fails and can be the relief you've been looking for. Wet wrap therapy calms the itch, repairs the skin barrier and provides more restful sleep. Here is a diagram and video showing how easy wet wrap therapy is for eczema.  Don't let the word "wet" scare you off.  It really is just applying damp clothing over an emollient.  If the eczema is not severe, you can try dry wrap therapy first then switch to damp if needed.

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/studionouveau/4667377108/">Studio Nouveau</a> / <a href="http://foter.com">Foter</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)</a>