Anyone who has eczema, psoriasis or urticaria will have experienced the burning, uncontrollable and completely overwhelming urge to itch!
Having had hives, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night ready to tear my skin off.
While itching can be one of the worst things you can do for your skin – when you’re in that place and your skin is on fire, stopping yourself can feel almost impossible.
We now know what causes itchy skin (read here for the science bit), but unfortunately, this knowledge does nothing to relieve the problem. A good old scratch – aside from giving momentary relief, actually makes itching far worse in the long run.
Prolonged scratching causes the skin barrier to break down, intensifying irritation and inflammation and leaving skin prone to infection. If eczema becomes infected, patches appear redder and become even more itchy and uncomfortable.
Luckily, there are lots of simple things you can do to calm aggravated skin and minimise scratching. Here are my top tips to soothe an itch:
Avoid synthetic fabrics
There are some fabrics that immediately make me itch – polyester, nylon and viscose are some of the worst offenders.
Try to stick with natural cotton, silk or linen fibres; if your skin is particularly itchy then it’s a good idea to keep your clothes loose fitting too.
Keep it cool
An ice pack, cool smooth stone or a cold flannel can take the ‘heat’ out of an itch. Hold it over any particularly itchy areas for a minute and breathe deeply while skin cools down and the urge to scratch subsides.
Keep bathing temperatures in check
We all love a warm soak but irritated skin reacts badly to overly hot baths or showers. Keep it as cool as you can, you’ll notice a difference immediately.
Avoid sleep-induced scratching
Lots of people unknowingly scratch during the night. Waking up and realising that you’ve further irritated your skin can be really distressing. If this is an issue, consider wearing thin cotton gloves whilst you sleep.
As a bonus, apply your Hand Cream beforehand and you’ll enjoy wonderfully soft hands the next day!
Keep it hydrated
Your skin barrier is weaker when it’s dry or dehydrated, so keep the area well moisturised and use calming products for added relief.
Our dermatologically tested Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream is brilliant at treating skin conditions like including eczema. Its easily absorbed plant oils and butters deliver an intense hydration boost, which soothes and regenerates aggravated skin.
Maximise air quality
Hot, stuffy rooms can leave sensitive skin feeling particularly clammy and itchy. I’m a big believer in leaving windows slightly open all year round, a well-ventilated room will keep you feeling cool and calm.
You could also look at purchasing a humidifier; which can sometimes help aggravated skin recover.
Break the itching habit
If you’ve suffered from eczema or itchy skin, scratching can become more of a habit than anything – something you do when you’re stressed or tired without even realising it.
If that sounds like you, try scratching something else so you’re fulfilling your urge without affecting your skin. Tactile fabrics that can’t be damaged are ideal; try scratching the arm of the sofa for some relief!
Have you got any tips for coping with itchy skin? If so, please share your scratch stoppers!