This post has been developed in partnership with GOLD BOND® Ultimate Lotion however, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Scratching is our biological response to an itch. Under normal circumstances, scratching would relieve the skin of the irritant which is causing the irritant. However, when a person suffers from eczema, that itch doesn’t go away. The scratching causes the itching to intensify, leading to more scratching and more itching etc. Instead of relieving the itch, the scratching aggravates the skin, sending more signals to the brain to intensify the itch. This itch scratch cycle is torture for an eczema sufferer and is frustrating because it stops the skin from healing. How can someone’s skin possibly heal when it’s constantly being irritated from scratching?
I have sufferer of very severe Eczema for my entire life. Being in and out of dermatologists offices means I have tried just about every treatment for Eczema available over the years. I have tried all sorts to heal my eczema, strong topical steroids, light treatment, oral pharmaceuticals etc. But the most effective thing I have ever found to heal my eczema were a few simple ways to break the itch scratch cycle, giving my skin a short break to reduce the inflammation and allow a healthy immune response to take over. I am often asked for tips from friends with eczema or friends who have children who are suffers of eczema so I have finally got around to compiling a list of my top tips to break that frustrating itch scratch cycle.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. – Marcus Aurelius
5 Ways To Break The Itch Scratch Cycle
Lavender Oil To Soothe The Itch
Lavender oil works wonders on skin for a skin irritation, especially in response to an allergy. It contains a natural antihistamine and has anti-inflammatory properties and can be incredibly soothing on itchy skin. You can use the lavender oil in a number of ways:
Apply the lavender oil directly to the skin, adding a few drops of the oil to a carrier oil such as coconut oil and applying to the itchy area 2-3 times a day.
Diffuse the lavender oil for 15-20 minutes every few hours. If the itching bothers you overnight, place the diffuser next to your bed!
Inhaling the lavender oil can also be beneficial. The oil can aid relaxation and deep breathing, relieving any anxiety or stress and our skin will react accordingly.
Add a few drops of lavender oil to a lukewarm bath and take a lovely long soak! (Make sure not to draw the bath too hot, I find heat will irritate my skin even more.)
It is important to note that lavender oil can sometimes cause a potential skin reaction so it is important to do a patch test on a small area of skin if you are concerned your skin is sensitive and may react.
Distraction From Scratching That Itch
I find scratching is often just as habitual as it is about the eczema actually causing an itch. Distraction is usually a fantastic way to take your mind off an itch. Sometimes thinking about something other than the itch is all that is needed! Find something you or your child loves to do, play a musical instrument or a video game. Something that will keep your hands busy is perfect! If you or your child can keep your hands and minds busy chances are you will stop thinking about the itching and it will simply go away. Distraction is a fantastic way to prevent scratching that itch, thus breaking the itch scratch cycle. Here are a few simple ideas to distract an eczema sufferer from the urge to scratch:
Go for a walk – getting out into the fresh air walking can stimulate your senses, both distressing you and relieving the itching as well as providing a dose of gentle exercise (plus boosting blood flow to your skin)!
Challenge them – if your child is having trouble with some school work, challenge them to complete the problem. Changing their focus onto something else and giving them a task which will take up their full concentration is often a fantastic way to redirect when an itch arises.
Play a game – play a board game, crack out your xbox, download a new app to play on your tablet. Games involve focusing your brain on problem solving and can keep even the busiest brain distracted from scratching. A bored mind will find even the smallest trigger to scratch!
A Good Moisturizer To Soothe And Heal The Skin
The best thing you can do for your skin after a bath is lock in all the wonderful moisture! Often dry skin is the leading trigger of the itch scratch cycle so a good moisturizer is a must. Any eczema sufferer must try the GOLD BOND® Ultimate Eczema Relief lotion! It is one of my favorites that I have used yet. The best part is it’s steroid-free which is wonderful as my skin has already suffered through years of using topical steroids and I am really trying to find alternatives now!
GOLD BOND® Ultimate Eczema Relief lotion contains 2% colloidal oatmeal which helps protect and relieve skin irritation and itching as well as a soothing blend of Vitamin E and Aloe. It’s clinically tested formula is proven to relieve the 5 symptoms of eczema. 8 out of 10 users experienced significant relief of dryness, scaling and roughness and felt significant skin improvement within 2 weeks! 9 out of 10 users experienced significant relief of redness and irritation in 4 weeks. You can even save $1 on any GOLD BOND® lotion with this coupon. To find out more about GOLD BOND® Lotions make sure to visit their website!
Ice That Itch
Using a cool pack, ice cube or even a bag of frozen peas can be incredibly soothing to an itchy patch of skin. I’ve even been known to use a cold, damp wash cloth if the itching is bad and I have no access to anything else! Ice has a numbing effect on the skin and can also relieve any uncomfortable swelling associated with the irritation. The cold that comes from a frozen compress has always provided me with effective and rapid relief from any itching I experience with my eczema! I make sure to sleep in a cool room and have also been partial to a cool shower if the urge to scratch is too intense. Menthol, calamine, refrigerated lotions and other cooling agents have proven to be just as effective when I feel the itch scratch cycle coming on!
Destress And Take Your Mind Off Scratching
I have noticed, over the years, that my eczema flares up during times of stress. Exams, illness etc have all sparked a flare up in my eczema and I often find myself scratching if I am in a stressful situation or am anxious. Meditating, practicing mindfulness, taking a relaxing bath can all help reduce the stress and magically help you avoid scratching and take your mind off that itch. Research has even proven meditation as an effective treatment for chronic eczema! De-activating the areas of the brain overactive during chronic itching.
If you’re looking for ideas for a great distraction to break your itch scratch cycle check out some of my fabulous crafts!
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