Itchy skin is the most common and burdensome symptom of eczema, also called atopic dermatitis. Here’s how to lessen eczema itching.
More than 70 percent of people with eczema report severe, sometimes unbearable, itching and burning. And the majority of those living with eczema reported daily itching for at least 12 hours a day.
Although eczema and itching often go hand-in-hand, there are some strategies you can use to alleviate this symptom and ensure that you avoid scratching.
5 Simple Tips To Alleviate Eczema Itching
Here are some simple tricks you can do to naturally deal with eczema itching without using medication:
1. Avoid Skin Irritants, Allergens, And Triggers
A vital part of managing eczema itching is avoiding allergens and irritants.
Everyday products, even natural ones, can cause burning, itching, and inflammation of the skin.
In some people with eczema, the foods you eat can also cause eczema-related itching. While there isn’t a specific eczema diet to follow, a healthy anti-inflammatory diet — one rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in fiber — is often recommended.
If you ever notice that a specific food or beverage is triggering your eczema and causing it to worsen, keep a journal outlining the ingredients. This will help you narrow down the cause of eczema and allow you to eliminate those foods from your diet so you can avoid introducing the trigger again in the future.
Avoiding triggers is just one part of a successful eczema treatment plan. Step one is identifying your specific triggers (through observation or medical tests). And step two is making a conscious effort to avoid those triggers.
You can’t typically eradicate eczema solely by removing the items that trigger the condition. Instead, trigger removal must be combined with flare treatment, bathing strategies, and moisturizing techniques.
Eczema triggers are unique to each person with the condition, and may include the following:
- Certain foods;
- Contact with specific types of clothing, such as those with tags, which can irritate the skin;
- Sweating or overheating.
2. Watch What’s On Your Skin
Products with fragrances, alcohol, and other chemical additives may be irritating for people with eczema.
Environmental chemicals, such as cleansers, perfumes, soaps, and lotions, can irritate sensitive skin, trigger eczema flares, or exacerbate itchiness.
Clothing made from synthetic materials can cause skin irritation. Soft, breathable, natural fabrics can be better options for sensitive skin.
3. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
When your skin gets too dry, you might experience eczema flare-ups that worsen itching. Regularly applying moisturizer prevents water loss and helps prevent dryness and cracking.
Restoring moisture to the skin barrier is one of the most effective skincare treatments for itchy skin.
- Moisturize often throughout the day. Try to pick a thick ointment or cream that contains ceramides.
- Try wet wrap therapy to help rehydrate your skin.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids daily.
- Take a bath with lukewarm water, but don’t vigorously dry off afterward, as you could irritate and damage sensitive skin.
You may need to adjust your routine depending on the weather. For example, during the winter you may need to use a thicker, heavier moisturizer.
4. Manage Stress
Stress can be a flare trigger for some people with eczema. Many stressors in life are beyond our control — we can’t avoid the stresses of a pandemic or economic downturn.
Even so, there are coping mechanisms that can help you better handle the pressures of life. Some examples include:
Changing routines, delegating tasks, and asking for support from a family member or friend can also help manage stress by reducing your obligations.
In addition, you can reach out to social service agencies in your community to identify other resources that can help you — whether it’s a referral to affordable mental health counseling or help to file for unemployment benefits.
Your dermatologist can also help you better manage stress by referring you to a mental health professional.
5. Don’t Scratch That Itch
Itching is a frustrating and uncomfortable issue for people with eczema. The urge to scratch can feel impossible to resist at times, but do your best to not scratch that itch.
Scratching can irritate and make your skin even itchier. It can also potentially open up your skin, creating cuts and allowing bacteria to be introduced. And it can also increase your risk of developing scars.
Here are some alternatives to scratching an unbearable itch:
- Pinch or pat the skin.
- Use an ice pack on the itchy area in 15-minute increments.
- Use diluted apple cider vinegar as a cold compress.
- Keep your hands busy with an activity such as writing, typing, washing the dishes, preparing the food for cooking, and so on.
Stick To Your Treatment!
Adhering to the treatments prescribed by your dermatologist is a key component of managing the itchiness of eczema.
Whether your doctor has prescribed topical treatments, oral medications, or an injected biologic, follow their instructions for use exactly.
Talk to your doctor if you’re having a hard time keeping up with the treatment plan or if your treatment isn’t helping reduce the eczema itching.