One of the common symptoms of eczema is dry, itchy skin. Everyone experiences dry skin from time to time. Sometimes it is a response to skin irritants or allergens and is called “contact dermatitis”. Eczema, however, is an entirely different disease. Doctors and scientists have not been able to determine the cause of eczema, it doesn’t always respond the same way to allergens, and can sometimes appear without any visible triggers. Because of this it is referred to as “atopic dermatitis”. Typically the symptoms (dry, itchy, inflamed skin, rashes, and blisters) appear in the first few years of life and often become less severe as the individual ages.
The itchiness of eczema is one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with. Everyone has experienced the occasional mosquito bite and the discomfort of the itchiness associated with it, but eczema is an entirely different matter. Not only is the skin itchy, but it is also extremely sensitive to being scratched and following through on the natural desire to scratch can lead to cracking, increased peeling of the already tender skin, painful infections, and sometimes open wounds on the skin. This is especially hard for children who find it hard to refrain from scratching the itch.
Doctors all agree that preventing the itchiness is the best way to handle eczema. The best way to do this is to avoid known triggers: rough material in bedding and clothing, dyes and petrochemicals in laundry soaps, perfumes, and lotions, dry or cold air, and dust. Limiting contact with these irritants or conditions has proven to be very helpful in reducing the number of symptom flare-ups eczema patients experience. But sometimes, no matter how much you try, that tender skin will form rashes and begin to itch, flake, and burn. What can you do to handle the itching when scratching can lead to bacterial infections?
Treating Itchy Rashes
If the skin is already suffering from eczema symptoms, the best thing to do is to follow a few basic steps to soothe it as much as possible.
First: cleanse the area with a very gentle soap free of dyes and perfumes if you have oily skin. If your skin is normal or dry use only a very small amount of soap, sometimes water is enough.
Second: apply a high-quality skin cream, like EczeMate, to form a moisture barrier and protective layer against the skin.
Third: If you will be in the sun be sure to use a good sunscreen to prevent sunburning.
These steps can help to soothe irritated skin and prevent a flare-up from getting worse. With eczema it’s always a good idea to treat it carefully from the first signs of inflammation. Waiting to see if it will go away on its own usually leads to worse symptoms.
If the inflamed area of skin is already blistering or peeling by the time you are able to moisturize it properly be sure to avoid picking at the dry skin. This can actually make it worse. Simply moisturize over the top of it and be sure to continue moisturizing as often as needed through the day to keep your sensitive skin from drying out.