Eczema is an acute skin condition that results in discolouring, inflammation and itching of the skin. Dermal dryness, redness and itchiness is also experienced in different parts of the body. Eczema is mainly caused by an abnormal immune reaction and is worsened by itching. As the patients scratch the affected skin areas, the nails damage the dermal barrier which further increases the skin inflammation and worsen the itchiness. This chronic scratching can make one more vulnerable to infections as it becomes easier for bacteria to penetrate through the cracked skin and attack the body.
8 Strategies To Stop Scratching & Itching Your Skin If You Have Eczema?
Scratching an eczema rash can temporarily feel good as scratching triggers a short term pain relief response, which subdues the itch. Patients should, however, realise that scratching can actually harm their skin and worsen the eczema. The best way to manage this eczema itch is to see a doctor and seek the right treatment and medication which can heal the underlying cause of the itch.
Although ‘do not scratch’ may be one of the worst and also the best piece of advice that an eczema patient gets to hear every now and then, it might just not be possible for them to give up scratching completely. However, by implementing the following 8 expert approved strategies, eczema patients can break this itch-scratch cycle effectively.
Cold Stimuli to Stop Scratching & Itching the Eczema Skin
According to dermatologists, it is advisable for eczema patients to hold an ice cube or cool compress on the itchy regions. These cold stimuli obstruct the body’s feeling of itchiness and can thus help to break the itch-scratch cycle.
Changing Your Routine Can Help Stop Scratching & Itching the Eczema Skin
“Habit reversal” is a psychological tool, which can help to control the eczema itch effectively. Studies show that eczema patients tend to develop a habit of scratching, i.e. scratching can become a conditioned response, and they may not even realise when doing it. In the psychological technique of habit reversal, the patients primarily need to recognize this habit and identify the times when they are most likely to scratch their skin with eczema. They should then consciously engage in some different activates when the urge to scratch arises. For example, if one notices that they frequently scratch while watching TV, they should do something to keep their hands busy during that time, like clenching their fists or using a fidget spinner, etc.
Identify the Triggers Which Lead You to Scratching & Itching of the Eczema Skin
Eczema is generally caused by underlying genetic factors and its symptoms can be worsened by certain environmental factors. Although everyone does not have the same eczema triggers, the most common ones include some fabrics like wool, allergens like pet dander or dust, heat or cold and scented detergents or skincare products. It is very important for patients to recognize these triggers factors and stay away from them to prevent scratching their eczema skin.
Eczema is also triggered by stress and anxiety in many people. High levels of inflammatory chemicals, like the stress hormone called cortisol, in the body can worsen inflammation which in turn can make the eczema more acute and increase the itching. Eczema patients should identify the situations which particularly make them feel anxious, stressed and worked up. They should then try to control and avoid such situations and if already facing one, they should try to keep themselves as cool and calm as possible. Some effective techniques like yoga, meditation, exercise and getting plenty of sleep can help these patients to relax their mind and their body effectively to control the eczema itching.
Lukewarm Water Bath Can Help Stop Scratching & Itching of the Eczema Skin
Hot water bath can make the patient feel good temporarily, but can ultimately worsen eczema by initiating the release of itch-inducing compounds. Lukewarm water should be used instead for bathing, as it is less likely to aggravate this sensitive skin condition. Since perfumed products can irritate the skin, only mild and unscented soaps should be used by eczema patients. After patting dry the body with a soft towel, a liberal amount of moisturizer should be applied on the body to repair the skin effectively and keep it well hydrated and to prevent eczema itching.
Moisturize Before Bed
Moisturizing the skin properly with a nice lotion just before going to bed at night can help soothe and repair the eczema affected skin effectively. It is also important for the patients to understand that since they cannot stop the itching entirely, they should try not to get frustrated when the itch distracts them from sleeping. The frustration can exacerbate the itching and make it even more difficult for them to fall asleep.
Light Therapy Can Ease Scratching & Itching of the Eczema Skin
Eczema patients may also consider light therapy, also known as phototherapy, for easing the itchiness. This therapy uses ultraviolet light to seep through the outer layers of skin to suppress the inflammatory cells and thereby relieve the itchiness. Light therapy is very safe, but extremely time consuming. Two to three sessions per week for several months can help in relieving eczema considerably. The results of light therapy however start showing after the first four weeks of the treatment. Patients suffering from chronic eczema are advised to use phototherapy as part of a combination treatment along with topical steroids and moisturizers to relieve eczema and its itching.
Regular Manicure in Eczema
Some eczema patients wear gloves to stop themselves from scratching. However, this can have a reverse effect as the gloves can make the hands sweaty and can further make the skin feel itchier. Patients who cannot stop scratching must at least cut their nails regularly and keep them as smooth and short as possible.
Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to not scratch the itchy skin in eczema. But it is best to keep the hands off the eczema rash for speedier recovery.
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