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How to Sleep Better When Your Eczema Flares up

It is National Eczema Awareness Week! Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition, characterised by dry skin, with patches that are red or inflamed and intensely itchy. It is estimated that up to 15 million people in the UK could be living with eczema. Eczema affects millions of people; some experience mild symptoms and others have severe problems. The nature of eczema is to periodically flare up and then calm down, but you can manage and ease the burden of eczema. 

The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopy means there is a hereditary tendency towards eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever). People with eczema may suffer with one of the other atopic diseases. It can occur anywhere on the skin, eczema in babies usually appears on the cheeks, ankles and backs of the arms. In older children and adults, it often appears on the neck, wrists, ankles and flexors (bends of the arms and legs).

So, what causes Eczema? The exact cause is unknown, however there are genetic, immunological and environmental factors that play a role. Weather changes, environmental allergies, illness or skin infections commonly worsen eczema. For most, the winter months are the worst time for eczema, but some people flare with any change in the weather.

Some Important facts about Eczema

  • It is a recurring inflammation of the skin

  • Normally begins in childhood

  • Can occur in infants

  • Can continue through adolescence and into childhood

  • Can occur for the first time in adulthood

  • May be outgrown, but skin could still be dry, irritable and sensitive.

People with eczema know the struggles that they live with daily. For most it affects their mental health and their ability to have a good night’s rest.

According to well-known medically backed journal Medical News Today eczema symptoms may feel worse at night for a few reasons:

  • A person’s body temperature slightly decreases at night, which can make the skin feel itchy.

  • If a person has applied moisturiser in the morning or daytime, the effects may have worn off by night.

  • People are likely to scratch in their sleep because they are too sleepy to remember to hold back. This can worsen the itch, and further interrupt their sleep.

What can be done to soothe and calm your skin to keep the itchiness at bay and get a good night’s rest?

One of the ways to avoid night-time eczema flare-ups is by controlling the factors in your environment. By minimising or removing your triggers you can help to lower the number of flare-ups experienced. Some triggers can include activities and materials.

The following tips may help avoid eczema itching at night:

Moisturise your skin before bed. Use an oil-based moisturiser such as Organic Shea Butter Moisturiser with No Fragrance or a medicated cream, such as a steroid cream, before bed.

Bathe at night with warm clear water. It is recommended that bathing every day for 5 to 10 minutes is important for keeping the skin hydrated and preventing infections. After bathing or showering gently pat your skin dry and apply an emollient (moisturiser) within 3 minutes to lock in hydration. Try medicated baths, which may include colloidal oatmeal, bleach, or vinegar.

Use wet wrap therapy. If the skin tends to dry out during the night, try wrapping a damp cloth around the affected area after moisturising. Leaving the wrap on overnight can help keep the skin hydrated.

Get cosy with natural fabrics. Use sheets or pyjamas that are made from 100 percent cotton and linens. These are gentler on your skin and would not irritate it.

Stay away from allergens before bed. Numerous people with eczema also have allergies, and reactions can trigger eczema flare-ups. If it is possible stay away from common allergens, such as pet dander and pollen, at night.

Wear gloves to bed. Making it more difficult to scratch can help control eczema itching at night. A simple solution would be to keep your fingernails trimmed short and filed smooth or wear gloves to bed.

Keep calm and chill out. Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable, sweating or just feeling warm can make the skin feel irritated and itchier. Adopt a good sleep pattern. Go to sleep at the same time each night and make time for a relaxing activity, such as reading or meditation, before bed. Use a cool mist humidifier, especially during the dry winter months. (Clean as directed to prevent potential mould growth).

Peaceful sleep when eczema flare ups occur

People with eczema and others who have sensitive skin should avoid the following triggers, especially before bed:

  • soaps, lotions, and cosmetics that contain fragrances or dyes

  • household cleaners

  • mould

  • dust mites

  • gasoline

  • nickel and other metals

  • cigarette smoke

  • sweat

  • high-stress situations

If eczema is preventing you from sleeping, or if the condition is severe, please consult your doctor. Do not suffer in silence! I hope these tips provide some relief  and a good night's rest for you.