When I first started on my quest to find out as much as I could about eczema to help my little one, the term ‘itch-scratch cycle’ kept coming up. It sounded pretty straight forward but I had no idea how important it was in managing my little one’s eczema.
What is the itch-scratch cycle in eczema?
The itch-scratch cycle is exactly that – a cycle which happens in eczema where you feel itchy and then you scratch. It’s what the scratching of the skin causes that creates a problem. Scratching does two things, firstly it makes your little one scratch even more because a chemical called histamine is released when they scratch which makes them even more itchy. The other thing scratching does is damage the skin which lets bacteria in to cause infection.
Why is the itch-scratch cycle important in managing eczema?
Preventing the itch-scratch cycle stops your little one’s skin being irritated and of course, itchy. Scratching over a long period of time damages the skin’s barrier which means there is a greater chance of infection and the skin changing to become thick in places – this is called ‘lichenification’ and often happens in eczema.
How do we manage the itch-scratch cycle?
- Managing the itch-scratch cycle is all about having a good eczema management plan in place.
- Moisturise often.This will not only add hydration to the skin but also give the skin help by forming a barrier to stop triggers and bacteria breaking through and causing it become itchy.
- Choose an effective moisturiser. Effective moisturisers for eczema are usually a bit oily and are thicker than normal cosmetic creams. This is so they can lock in hydration for longer and not evaporate from the skin and take with it any natural oils the skin has on it.
- Get a regular bath time routine going. A short bath in lukewarm water with colloidal oatmeal can increase the amount of moisture for the skin. Immediately after the bath and while the skin is still damp, moisturise. Rubbing a good amount of moisturiser into your little one’s body in a downward direction will cause the least irritation to eczema skin.
- When your little one’s skin is itchy use a cold compress for some relief. You can make a cold compress by wrapping an ice pack in a soft towel. Hold it to the itchy skin for a few minutes and then moisturise.
- Keep your little one’s nails short to stop them from doing a lot of damage to their skin if they scratch.
This blog post was brought to you and your bub with love and care from Julia and the itchy baby co. team. X
Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional