Stopping the Itch of Eczema.

Stopping the Itch of Eczema.

Anne Fairchild McVey

Are You Miserable with the Itch of Eczema?  You Are Not Alone.

The itch in eczema is relentless; preventing sleep and making it hard to concentrate on daily tasks. Some eczema sufferers say the itch of eczema 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 makes 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, eczema is started by being introduced to an allergen/irritant. First you must discover the allergen/irritant.  Then you need to avoid that allergen/irritant to minimize your symptoms. It is important to know that the scratching causes damage to the skin thus letting bacteria 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. Also, this bacteria can cause infection.  If you suspect your eczema is infected, make an appointment with your physician, dermatologist or allergist.  

The itch-scratch cycle of eczema is not only physically draining for the eczema sufferer but is also emotionally draining.  Many that suffer from severe eczema also report feelings of depression.  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: 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 are an 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.  An allergist can be very helpful in determining your eczema triggers.

Encasings:

Dust mites are a known eczema trigger.  Dust mites can aggravate eczema and cause itching to increase in a bed with a high amount of them. 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 such as dust mites. 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.  It is also very important to vacuum your bedroom regularly and wash everything in hot water including stuffed animals if it's a child.

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, then applying a dry layer on top.  If the damp layer is approved wet wrap therapy garments, the sufferer will find the process soothing and calming to the itch.  Recent research reports that wet wrap therapy also cuts the need for topical drugs such as topical steroids which have dangerous side effects.  If the eczema is mild to moderate, dry wrap therapy can be extremely effective.  Moderate to severe eczema will require wet wrap therapy.

Here is a simple diagram on wet wrap therapy.

Here is a short video on easy, simple wet wrap therapy.

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>