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Dealing with eczema: how to break the itch, scratch, itch cycle

Moisturise

The first step in dermatitis itch control is moisturising with eczema-appropriate emollient creams or lotions. Research has shown that skin affected by eczema has gaps in between its cells that permit allergens to enter, causing itching. Keeping your skin well moisturised can plug the gaps, making it more difficult for allergens to enter and keeping itching at bay. Moisturise your skin frequently, especially following a bath or shower.

Bleach baths

A bleach bath can reduce the chances of skin infections, which worsen the symptoms of eczema. To make a bleach bath, pour half a cup of household bleach into a full bath of lukewarm water and mix well. Soak in the bath for 10 minutes or so, and then rinse your skin with clean water.

Cold compresses

Cold compresses are very effective at soothing itchy skin. Place an icepack inside a thin towel so that the ice doesn’t burn your skin, and then hold the pack against your skin for a few minutes to relieve the itching.

Choose loose-fitting clothes and comfy fabrics

When you are choosing clothes, try to avoid coarse fabrics like nylon and wool that can irritate your skin; cotton and cotton-blend materials are good for keeping your skin cool and are less irritating. Loose-fitting clothes are less likely to make your skin sweat and won’t rub, making itching less likely.

Cut your fingernails

It’s a good idea to keep your fingernails short and neatly filed so that you won’t be tempted to scratch your skin. If you scratch at night, wearing light, cotton gloves can prevent you from damaging your skin.

Keep cool at night

Night time can be a prime time for itching to start and trigger an eczema flare-up. This usually happens because you are too hot. Choose cool, cotton bedding that won’t make you sweat and leave a window open when you go to bed. Swap nylon nightwear for cotton mix and don’t wear anything that’s very close-fitting. Even if it’s cold outside, avoid using electric blankets and hot water bottles.

Break the cycle

You can take positive steps to break the itch, scratch, itch cycle by following the tips given above. If you find that your eczema is becoming worse or you are really struggling to cope with the symptoms, always seek the advice of your GP or dermatologist.

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