If you have eczema, you know how challenging it can be to fight the urge to scratch. The skin condition causes dry, scaly, rashy skin that is also incredibly itchy. Eczema can be so uncomfortable that some people with the condition unconsciously scratch in their sleep, or even itch themselves until they bleed. Luckily, there are expert-approved strategies that can help ease the itch. In this video, we share five ways to stop yourself from scratching your eczema skin.
- See your doctor: In addition to treatments, lifestyle changes may help in fighting the urge to scratch.
- Ice your skin: Apply a cold compress or ice to affected areas. The cold temperature can block the itch to help you break the scratch cycle.
- Break the habit: For most of us, scratching is an automatic response; we do it without really thinking about it. One way to stop this mindless action is to use a technique called “habit reversal.” It involves identifying when you’re most likely to engage in a habit (in this case, scratching), then distracting yourself with something else during those times. For example, if you tend to scratch while you watch TV, arm yourself with a stress-reliefball, fidget spinner, or adult coloring book to keep your hands busy.
- Avoid skin irritants: No one wants to come in contact with materials that make their eczema symptoms worse. Stay away from very hot or cold substances, scratchy fabrics like wool, allergens such as dust or pet dander, and scented skincare products and detergents.
- De-stress: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate eczema symptoms in some people. To get both under control, try meditating, practicing yoga, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising. All four activities (yep, we’re counting sleep as an activity) have been shown to lower stress levels and keep you mentally and physically healthy.
- Change up your beauty regimen: In addition to showering in lukewarm water, you should also stick to mild, unscented soaps—perfumed bath products can irritate your sensitive skin. As you’re toweling off, apply a liberal amount of moisturizer to prevent skin from drying out.