While scratching your skin may give you some short-term relief, it really isn’t worth it. You will damage your skin, which can make it lose water and dry it out, which will in turn make it more itchy. It is important to take a different approach. Here we explain how to care for itchy and atopic eczema-prone skin.
LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR ITCHY SKIN
When you get a flare up of eczema symptoms such as really dry skin, itching, redness, swelling and general irritability, here are some ideas for how you can calm your skin:
- Put a wet cloth on the itchy area of skin – you could put this in the fridge first to boost its effect. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes until your skin has calmed. You could also try this with a moisturiser instead of soaking the cloth in water.
- Have a cool shower to calm your skin down if it is getting too much, or have a cool bath. If the water is hot, it may remove natural oils from your skin. Try not to shower or bathe for two long – limit yourself to 10 minutes max.
- Wear comfortable clothes, ideally made of cotton. Wearing materials like wool next to your skin can irritate it.
- Don’t overheat your house – try to keep a comfortable temperature. A fan might help to cool your skin down.
- If you find that things in your diet make your itchy skin worse, such as caffeine, alcohol, or spicy food, cut down on these or eliminate them.
- If stress makes your itchy skin worse, think about ways to reduce this to take back control. There are some types of behavioural therapy that can help you to cope with stress to break the itch-scratch cycle. Ask your doctor to find out more.
- Keep your fingernails short and clean so they can do less damage if you do momentarily give in to scratching. If the urge to scratch is just irresistible, then rub the area with your palm, or pat it instead.
- Wear non-powdered non-rubber gloves, such as vinyl gloves, to protect your hands from irritants when you do any housework.
- If you go for a swim, make sure you rinse off well in the shower afterwards. And put plenty of moisturiser on after you have dried off.
- Wash clothes with a non-biological washing powder and use a double rinse cycle to remove detergent residues from the clothing.
LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR ATOPIC ECZEMA-PRONE SKIN
- Keep a diary and write down anything that triggers your atopic eczema, or makes it worse. Then try to avoid these. It could be anything from wearing certain clothing (synthetic fibres are often bad for atopic eczema), soaps or detergents, to contact with animals, and heat.
- Treat yourself to a regular massage (with a suitable moisturiser). Not only will you enjoy it, but a massage might improve your eczema.
Ask your doctor about eczema medicines. A type of medicine called a corticosteroid is often used to treat eczema. If you’re using this, apply a moisturiser first and wait several minutes (about 15–30 mins if possible) before you apply the corticosteroid.
- Keeping your skin hydrated is key to looking after atopic eczema-prone skin. Use a fragrance-free moisturiser several times a day – try to smooth this onto your skin in the direction of your hair growth rather than rubbing it in. Use a moisturiser all over your whole body at times when your atopic eczema is clear too. Moisturisers will help the outer layer of your skin function better as a barrier to the outside world. They will ease itching, reduce scaling, soften cracked areas and if you are using any medicines, help them penetrate into the areas they are needed.
- The drier your skin, the more often you should apply a moisturiser.
- Use a fragrance-free shampoo in the shower – it is best not to wash your hair in the bath.
- Use a fragrance-free moisturiser or moisturising wash products instead of soaps and detergent-based wash products. Soaps, detergents, and bubble bath are very drying to the skin and can damage it, so they are not a good choice if you have atopic eczema.
- Physiogel moisturising creams and lotions contain Physiogel BioMimic Technology, a science that works to soothe, help repair and restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier in dry skin. Inspired by the skin’s natural structure, Physiogel BioMimic Technology contains lipids that are similar to those found naturally in the skin and can replenish lipids missing from dry skin. There are a number of products in the PHYSIOGEL CALMING RELIEF range that are suitable for use on atopic eczema-prone skin . Click on the products below to find out more.