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Successfully Treating Full Body Eczema

Successfully Treating Full Body Eczema

Anne Fairchild McVey

Full Body Eczema is the Hardest to Treat.  How to Successfully Treat Full Body Eczema.

Does your child suffer from eczema? If eczema is not properly controlled and managed it can spread to the entire body. Full body eczema is the hardest to treat and left untreated it is susceptible to infection. Children are particularly susceptible to staph infections. Children can’t control scratching and their fingers are touching and exploring their surroundings and have bacteria waiting to penetrate the eczema once the child itches. If you suspect your child’s eczema is infected, you will need to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician, dermatologist or allergist.

The best treatment method for moderate to severe full body eczema is wet wrap therapy. Wet wrap therapy has been advocated by doctors as a safe and effective treatment for childhood eczema for 20 years. Wet wrap therapy brings down inflammation, calms the itch and helps repair the skin barrier. Wet wrap therapy is the only treatment that provides more restful sleep. This therapy is a great option if the child and the family are struggling with sleep deprivation due to nighttime itching.  Don't let the word "wet" scare you off.  You will apply warm, damp specialty garments over an emollient and it usually dries in 2 hours.  This damp garment calms the itch during treatment so the child finds it extremely soothing.

Wet wrap therapy is a wonderful option for stubborn child eczema because it decreases the need for topical steroids. Topical steroids have side effects and most parents worry about using it on small children. Keep in mind that when using topical steroids on children for eczema, topical steroids should only be used when other treatment options have failed and should be used for no more than two weeks.

Below you will find a diagram and tips for successful wet wrap therapy to treat full body child eczema. Adults can also wet wrap and follow the same tips and diagram.

Wet wrap therapy is quite simple but you will need specialty wet wrap clothing. Specialty wet wrap clothing is expensive but well worth the investment of about $100.00. Wet wrap clothing allows comfort during treatment. Other options are wet gauze or cotton clothing. Gauze and cotton clothing are not ideal for wet wrap therapy, especially if you are treating a child. Children tend to remove the gauze and find it itchy and scratchy. Cotton clothing gets baggy, loose, cold and uncomfortable when wet. The cotton fiber also becomes rough when wet. If the child does not feel comfortable and soothed during treatment, the parent will have a hard time being consistent with the treatment. Specialty wet wrap clothing also has features that gauze and cotton clothing do not such as anti-itch fabric, built-in hand covers and 6% spandex to stay close to the skin for effective treatment.  Wet wrap therapy should be done consecutively for 3-5 days. Recent research reports and average reduction in eczema symptoms by 75% in 5 days of treatment.

Once the wet wrap therapy treatment is completed and the eczema is controlled, the specialty wet wrap clothing can then be worn dry over emollients to keep the skin healthy and prevent future eczema flares. If an eczema flare occurs, the parent can switch back to using the wet wrap clothing damp.

It is also important to purchase wet wrap therapy clothing that is regulated by the FDA. Wet wrap clothing sold in the U.S. is required to be registered and regulated by the FDA. Make sure you are not using a product on your child’s inflamed eczema that is not registered or regulated by the FDA. They may be less expensive, but they are not advised, especially for dry, cracked eczema.  The National Eczema Association is a wonderful resource for eczema products and make sure you use products with their Seal of Acceptance.

Please see the simple wet wrap therapy directions and diagram.

Soak: Soak in a lukewarm tub or shower for at least 10 minutes. Do not use hot water – this will strip the skin of natural oils. Use just water or a mild, fragrance free soap given the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.

Seal: Pat your skin dry. Do not rub skin, only pat dry. Rubbing will irritate the eczema. Apply an emollient immediately to the skin before the skin completely dries. This will lock in the moisture from the shower and help repair the skin barrier. Vaniply is a wonderful emollient for the Seal step. Apply the emollient liberally to the whole body not just the affected area. Do not rub the emollient, instead apply it by smoothing it into the skin along the line of hair growth. You can not overdose on emollient. Use as much as you need to completely cover the skin.

Apply a Wrap: Apply a damp wrap over the emollient for moderate to severe eczema. Apply a dry wrap over the emollient for mild eczema.