Does Eczema Spread If You Scratch It
The itch-scratch cycle triggers eczema flares. This cycle occurs when itching leads to scratching, resulting in the body releasing inflammatory mediators, aggravating eczema, and causing additional symptoms. The rash may grow and spread on the affected body area as the skin inflames in the area surrounding the itch.
If a person scratches their eczema so much that it leaves minor wounds, this could result in an infection. Further scratching could cause the infection to spread to broken or dry skin nearby.
However, eczema cannot spread from one person to another, and doctors consider it a noncontagious condition.
One of the best ways to reduce or prevent nighttime eczema flare-ups is to avoid triggers before bed. Triggers will vary among individuals, but they may include both activities, such as stressful events, and materials.
The following tips may help prevent people from scratching the skin at night:
- Moisturizing well before bed: Using oil-based ointments, moisturizers, or a medicated cream, such as a steroid cream, before bed may be beneficial. A doctor may prescribe stronger versions.
- Bathing before bed: Bathing regularly is important for keeping the skin hydrated and preventing infections. Always moisturize within 3 minutes of bathing to lock in hydration. Try medicated baths, which may include:
- apple cider vinegar
What Are Other Causes Of Itching At Night
While eczema specifically atopic dermatitis is the primary cause of itching at night, there are some other conditions that could be causing your childs itching.
- Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition, which causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin.
- Lichen simplex chronicus is thickened areas of rough skin caused by repeatedly scratching or rubbing.
- Prurigo nodularis is a chronic skin disease that occurs more rarely than eczema.
- Head lice are tiny insects common among children that live on the human head and bite the scalp.
- Threadworms are small, thread-like worms that live in the intestine and can cause intense itching around the bum, particularly at night.
Your doctor can help you determine whether one of these conditions is causing your childs nocturnal pruritus.
Support Siblings Who Do Not Have Eczema
Siblings of children with eczema can sometimes get short shrift in terms of a parents time and attention. Its okay for them to feel jealous, even though theyd never want to have eczema. It is important to thank these siblings for their support and nd ways to involve them too. They may see their sibling struggle or cry, and they may be worried or upset about whats happening. Be sure to explain eczema to them, too.
Jennifer LeBovidge, Ph.D., is a psychologist in the Atopic Dermatitis Center at Boston Childrens Hospital and a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, specializing in pediatric psychology. Dr. LeBovidge provides psychological consultation and support to children with eczema and food allergies, and to their families.
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How To Tell If Your Child Has Eczema
Is it just a rash, or is it a more serious skin condition? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Kids get skin rashes from time to time, so when your little one has red patches on their face, how do you know if its eczema or another skin condition such as heat rash, acne or hives? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Cortisol The Hormone That Helps Control Inflammation And Itch
Cortisol is an important anti-inflammatory hormone. It also has a role in waking us up! Cortisol levels naturally drop overnight to help ensure we get a good nights sleep, then peak early in the morning to ready us for waking.
The problem with this is that cortisols anti-inflammatory, itch-controlling effects are minimised at night time when the levels are low4.
Low cortisol usually = better sleep
BUT for people with itchy skin conditions, low cortisol = reduced protection against inflammation = more itching .
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Wet Wraps/soak And Seal
This method is mainly used for children who just cannot apply as much mind-over-matter as adults can. What it does is create a wet environment directly on the skin, then it is sealed which helps keep the skin hydrated, helping moisture penetrate the skin to calm the itch.
Only specialized wraps designed specifically for this purpose should be used. This is best done after a luke warm bath or shower so the skin is relaxed and ready for the application of a moisturizer. Once a soothing moisturizer has been applied , the affected areas need to be wrapped in the damp wraps then covered in a dry cotton clothes/pyjamas.
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What Does It Look Like
The signs of eczema in infants include itchy, dry and scaly skin, redness and swelling of the skin and small bumps that open and weep when scratched. In infants and young children, eczema is usually found on the face, outside of the elbows, and on the knees.
In older children and adults, eczema tends to be on the hands and feet, the arms, and on the back of the knees.Keep in mind that all patches of dry skin are not eczema. The cold, dry outdoor air and indoor heating can dry all babies skin in winter, causing dry patches. In children prone to dry skin, so can the sun, air conditioning, and pool and salt water.
We dermatologists usually say if its not itchy, its not eczema you cant make a diagnosis of eczema unless there is an itchiness that goes with the rash. Babies with cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, can also have a wide-spread rash, which is not eczema in itself. But it is common for cradle cap and eczema to co-exist in the first several months of life.
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Develop Strategies To Make The Treatment Routine Easier
Moisturizers sometimes sting. Perhaps your child had a bad experience when theyve had open skin and theyve experienced this sting, and now they get anxious about putting on their moisturizer, or they just refuse to do it.
The goal is to overcome treatment anxiety and make moisturizing fun for children. Here are some ideas:
- Have your child apply the moisturizer to Mom and Dad rst
- Have them apply and rub it into all the easy-to-reach areas on themselves
- Have them draw pictures with the moisturizer or pretend theyre frosting a cupcake
- Have them pretend they are a superhero, drawing strength from the moisturizer
- Make the application into a game, like Red Light Green Light
Some children really hate the goopy, sticky feeling of putting on their pajamas or clothes after moisturizing. You might have a special robe for them to wear while the moisturizer is soaking in.
Teenagers might want to work with a medical provider to nd the products that work best for them, like a lighter moisturizer for the face.
Baths also can sting and be cause for anxiety. Explain to your child why taking baths is necessary. You might say, Our skin is thirsty and during a bath its taking a drink, and then our moisturizer is sealing it in.
At times just wearing a bathing suit, or bathing in a kiddie pool can work. When your child is in a kiddie pool its not a bath, its swimming and its fun. Teenagers sometimes like to make the bath their spa time and listen to some music.
Listen And Offer Support
Sometimes the most important thing a parent can do is listen. There are not a lot of good responses when children say I hate this! or Why me? As parents, we all want to rush in with a good answer, but often its most helpful to rst really listen and to let your child know that you understand.
At the same time, help your child realize theres more to them than just eczema. Get them involved in activities that improve their self-esteem. And think about what you say to them. Are your conversations often about eczema or do you spend just as much time talking about the fact that theyre a great T-ball player or theyre learning to read? Think about the coping styles that youre modeling.
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Help Your Child To Stop Scratching
One of the biggest problems with childhood eczema is the urge to scratch the itchy skin, which may then bleed or become infected.
See if your child scratches at certain times of the day, for example while watching TV, and try to teach them to do something else instead, such as tightly holding their arm.
Praise them for not scratching, or even use a star chart. Keep their nails short.
Cotton bandages, vests and/or leggings can help keep the cream in the skin and help prevent your child from scratching.
Involve Children In Their Eczema Treatment
Actively involving your child in their own care can help them feel more in control and build self-management skills. Young children often want to do things themselves and be in control. Look for fun ways to involve them in their skin care, and give them choices.
Older children and teens can do more on their own. They gain self-esteem from taking care of things, but they still need parental structure and support, so sometimes there can be some battles around skin care. It can help to involve children in solving problems. For instance, if theres a lot of procrastination around baths at bedtime, ask your child for a solution. For example, ask them if after dinner be a better time for a bath?
With older children, it can also help to frame skin care in terms of their goals, and how sticking to a skin care routine could help. Some children like to keep a journal, like a detective notebook or a science log, looking at changes in their skin and tracking progress. It can be motivating for them to see that their actions actually can make a difference.
Reward programs can also keep children motivated, but a rewards effectiveness sometimes wears off. So rewards are often best used for an immediate short-term goal.
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How Is Eczema Diagnosed
There is no specific test used to diagnose eczema. The doctor will look at the rash and ask about symptoms, the child’s past health, and the family’s health. If family members have any atopic conditions, that’s an important clue.
The doctor will rule out other conditions that can cause skin inflammation, and might recommend that your child see a dermatologist or an allergist.
The doctor may ask you to ban some foods from your child’s diet, switch detergents or soaps, or make other changes for a time to see if your child is reacting to something.
Looking To The Future
Being an eczema parent can be challenging, heartbreaking and everything in between. Theres no wonder how to get rid of baby eczema fast pops up in search terms related to this condition so often.
Some babies do outgrow eczema by around age 4. For many more with atopic dermatitis, the condition will come and go over the course of their life. Either way, it does get easier. Youll find what works best for your family and are likely to meet lots of others you can share the trials and triumphs of living with eczema along the way.
Were here to help you and your little one find relief while on that journey.
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Scratching Hand To Soothing Hand
Have you been trying to stop scratching with willpower? It simply wont work. Your itch keeps building, keeps calling out for help. Your hand nally reaches to relieve it, almost of its own accord. The hand is quicker than the will.
Why cant you just tell yourself to stop scratching? Very simple: you never told yourself to start. Your conscious willpower self isnt running the show.
Then who is in charge here? Neither your conscious mind nor your unconscious mind. You dont direct the scratching, but youre not aware of it either. Your scratch control center is directly linked to the healing part of the mind. But as you well know by now, if you want help from this part of yourself, you have to speak its language. You cant push, work, or insist. You need to be subtle and wily.
For example, try to not think of a hippopotamus. Now try harder. Bulldozing yourself with willpower is not effective. Now have each hippopotamus turn into an elephant. Much easier?
Rather than struggling to restrain your scratching hand, you can convert it: You can turn the pesky hippopotamus into a loyal, powerful elephant of an ally.
It probably took you years to learn to catch a ball smoothly and without thinking. But you can learn to transform your scratching hand into a healing hand through daily practice sessions with the help of the imagining of your own personal healing state.
Here is a sample exercise. For a more thorough version, please refer to Skin Deep:
How To Impede The Scratching
My oldest child still deals with eczema flare ups from time to time, so I know first hand the difficulty associated with trying to keep a baby from incessantly scratching at those itchy patches. Baby eczema and sleep dont have to cancel each other out!
The best solution Ive found to deal with this issue is to sew the ends shut on your babys long-sleeved shirt/pajama/onesie. This may not stop the scratching, but will keep the nails from breaking the skin.
If like me youre not very crafty, then consider purchasing something from Bamboo Bubby. They have specially designed sleeves and sleep sacks in natural fabrics that can keep the itching to a minimum.
Top 10 Tips for Dry Skin, Itchy Skin and Eczema Treatment.
- Natural Eczema Cure Revealed
Discover how to treat and eliminate different types of eczemaâMy eczema vanished within weeks of reading this eBook and putting it to useââWhat an amazing book, packed full great of information. I cant wait to read my way through it all!ââThanks Stuart, your ebook gives such a simple solution. Since using your method Ive been eczema free for more than 5 weeks now. My life has completely changed for the better.â
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Why Do Babies Get Eczema
While the actual cause of eczema is unknown, we do know that genes and triggers in the environment both play a role.
Eczema runs in families , which points to a genetic component. Research has identified a number of genes linked to these conditions and continues to explore the part genetics plays in eczema.
Triggers can be anything outside the body that activates your babys immune system, causing their skin cells to behave differently than usual. These can include:
- Irritants, like soap and dust mites
- Certain foods, such as milk, egg and peanut
In addition, infant skin differs in structure and composition to adult skin. For example, the skin barrier is 30% thinner in babies less than 12 months old3. This makes baby skin more prone to dryness and less effective in protecting against irritants than adult skin.
Why Does Eczema Get Worse At Night
Is your baby scratching eczema at night? You might be surprised, but night itching is not restricted to just children and adults with dermatitis. Because certain key functions of the skin may be altered during sleepincluding thermoregulation, maintenance of fluid balance, and barrier functionnight itching is a common occurrence even among people with perfectly normal skin. Although the exact cause is unknown, there are several factors that may contribute to an increase in itchy skin once nighttime hits.
Body Temperature & Blood Flow. Body temperature and the blood flow to skin both increase in the evening leading to a rise in the warmth of the skin. A rise in skin temperature can make you feel more itchy. Fun fact: Sweat is one of the most common eczema triggers!
Skin Barrier Function. Trans-epidermal water loss a measure of skin barrier integrityis increased at night. Impairment of barrier function may contribute to irritation by facilitating the entry of substances that cause itching. In patients with dermatitis, increased TEWL has been associated with increased itch intensity.
Cytokines & Corticosteroids. At night, the body releases more cytokines which increase inflammation.Meanwhile, Corticosteroidhormones which help combat inflammationlevels are at their lowest, which leads to a decreased anti-inflammatory response .
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How Do I Stop Eczema Itching Immediately
Eczema is a chronic condition, but there are ways to reduce or limit the itching. The two main treatments for eczema are moisturizing products called emollients and steroid creams.
A person should use emollients daily to prevent the skin from drying out, which can help reduce itchiness. A doctor can also prescribe steroid creams to reduce swelling, itching, and discoloration.
Eczema Symptoms And Treatment
Eczema is not a single health condition but a recognizable reaction pattern seen in a number of skin diseases. Atopic dermatitis, a common cause of eczema, is more prevalent in those with asthma and hay fever. Eczema signs and symptoms include tiny blisters that can weep and ooze, eventually producing crusted, thickened plaques of skin. It is almost always quite itchy.
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Why Is Eczema Itching At Night A Problem
If youve hit Google looking for advice on your childs night time itchiness, you probably know all too well why its a problem.
Studies show that kids with mild eczema are 40% more likely to have disturbed sleep than those without the condition. Kids with severe eczema are 85% more likely to experience poor sleep. Even those without active symptoms are nearly twice as likely to experience broken sleep than children without eczema1.