The itch that is associated with eczema is incredibly hard to explain to people who do not have the skin condition. We are told ‘don’t scratch’ but it’s not that easy. For me, I don’t always notice until a couple of seconds in.
It’s persistent and exacerbates eczema. I have tried to reduce how much this happens but most importantly have stopped beating myself up if I give in every now and then.
Why does it do this to us? The National Eczema Association (answers a lot of our questions) explain this on their website:
‘This type of itch begins when free nerve fibers are stimulated by nerve endings called C fibers in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis). The nerve endings can be stimulated by different factors, including external irritants, dry skin, eczema flares, or chemical mediators in the skin…‘
Many eczema sufferers find that it gets worse at night possibly due to a lowered temperature and circadian rhythms. I have found a few ways to prevent (or at least reduce) scratching and so far my skin has begun healing, in addition to stopping my mini-pill and taking multivitamins and omega oils for a month now:
Apply Aqueous Cream Before Bed
It’s an obvious one but this is about forming habits. Keep all of your skin moisturised by applying it at set times of day such as when you wake up and before you go to bed. It is also very cooling on dry, itchy skin.
Wear Soft Clothing Which Covers Eczema
Materials such as cotton and silk are recommended for eczema. I find polyester is fine and feels soft too despite it not being recommended for eczema. This is because it can be too warm so don’t overheat. I wear longer sleeves and trousers to prevent myself from scratching, as there is a barrier.
Take an Antihistamine
Over the counter and used to treat allergies and can reduce itchiness and hives.
Put a Dehumidifier in Your Bedroom
Humidity should be kept below 50% and will reduce dust mites. I have put one in my bedroom and it stops condensation also.
Wash Bedding in a Suitable Washing Powder
Don’t choose an irritant for a washing powder, like I mentioned in Is Your Laundry Detergent Irritating Your Skin?
I have also found and ordered one of these, it’s an Ecoegg washing ball (fragrance free) which should save money on washing powder too.
Wear Cotton Gloves
Put cream on first and then put these gloves on, it will stop you from involuntarily scratching. Plus, it’ll help lock in moisture. Make sure they’re made of cotton and fit you comfortably. They might fall off whilst you’re sleeping but that can’t be helped.
As best as you can. Watch a film or show you’re genuinely into and make a hot chocolate. Let yourself relax because if anyone deserves to it’s you. Eczema and itchiness can lead to no or little sleep. You are probably worried about your eczema and not getting enough sleep so it can be a vicious cycle.
Even good company and conversation can take your mind off of it, so spend time with your family and friends.