We asked eczema sufferers for their top tips for surviving life with eczema: here’s what they said helped them beat the awful itch!
- Compression bandages: these help me loads when I have itchy arms! The compression helps relieve the itch, plus it stops you getting to the skin to scratch it. Not too tight, obviously, just gentle compression. They also make you look like Rey from Starwars i.e. a total badass WHICH YOU ARE, CAN I GET A HELL YES!
- Acrylic nails: lots of people in the TSW community get acrylic nails to minimise the damage done by scratching! The acrylics have a blunter edge than our natural nails so are less likely to break the skin. It’s not a particularly natural or chemical-free hack, but it works!
- Damp not dry! Always apply your moisturiser to damp skin rather than totally dry, so that your skin absorbs it better and stays moisturised for longer.
- Layer your clothes so that when you overheat you can remove a layer quickly. This really helps with the itching.
- Take your own bedding: when travelling to hotels or B&B’s take your own pillowcase and sheets, and a duvet cover if at all possible as well! I find hotel bedding can be washed in all sorts of harsh detergents which can really irritate skin. Or take a sleeping bag that you’ve washed at home in your own safe washing detergent. It’s a hassle but it really reduces the risk of irritated skin when you’re away from home.
- Non-itch tights: if you have a teen or tween who has to wear tights for school, Wolford do super soft non-itchy tights in school colours that don’t irritate skin/inflame eczema. They are expensive but worth it if you can’t find others that don’t feel scratchy!
- Protect your neck! I find that the collar of coats and jackets really irritates my neck, especially in winter when you need an outer layer, so I always carry a soft cotton/viscose or silk scarf to wear around my neck as a barrier between my skin and the coat. Charity shops are a good source of such things.
- Oat baths: an oldie but still a goodie! Put a handful of ordinary porridge oats into a sock, or the cut-off end of a pair of tights, and tie it up so they can’t spill out. Then just throw it in the bath with you! The creamy oaty water is really calming for itchy skin. Just don’t overdo the heat or the time you stay in for.
- Go inside-out. Wear pyjamas inside out to avoid itchy seams and labels.
- Ice, ice baby! Make sure you can cool down at the drop of a hat by having a cool pack or frozen peas in the freezer at home or at work. Ice towels are newish thing and can be used for instant cooling wherever you are, but you could also keep damp face cloths in the fridge for use whenever you’re feeling itchy.
- Wash it twice: give your laundry an extra go round in the rinse cycle to get rid of as much detergent as possible.
- Multitask moisturisers! Use your favourite eczema-safe moisturiser to take off make-up! You can do this with Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream if you already know your skin likes it as an emollient; just massage gently into the skin and remove with warm, damp cotton wool or a washcloth.
- Apple cider vinegar was a big relief for me when I was suffering last summer. Either a cup of it in a luke-warm bath or soak a flannel in a water and vinegar mix and leave on itchy areas.
- Take up knitting, or crochet! It gives you something to do with your hands rather than scratch. you can knit/crochet with cotton yarn if sensitive to wool or acrylics. Having something to do with my hands when i'm feeling itchy has been a big help, I knit through the itch attack as much as possible. I find the repetitive nature of knitting is soothing too.
- Practise safe scratching: use a comb or hairbrush to scratch with rather than your nails - it’s much less likely to break the skin that way but still relieves the itch. I like those little clamshell brushes that fold into themselves; those kind of firm bristles are perfect.
If you have any more suggestions, why not drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org?
Compiled from suggestions by Charlotte Leanne Brothwood, Karen Reekie, Maria Marziaoli, Pauline Woodcock, Rachel Robinson.