Once, twice, three times an eczema itch

With eczema, it’s not a question of “are you itchy?” It’s “how bad and how often?” Let’s get to the bottom of why eczema is such a nagging itch.

An itch by any other name

Pruritus (or itch) is one of the biggest problems that people with eczema must face, which makes it far from “just an itch,” as some people may think. The truth is, living with eczema means living with itchy skin. This itch can arise from a variety of factors. With eczema, the skin barrier is damaged which leads to moisture loss and dry skin—a common source of itch. The damaged skin barrier also causes your skin to be more sensitive to external irritants like soaps or household cleaners. Itch can also arise from an overactive immune system that produces excess inflammation in the skin.

The intense itch of eczema can be so bad that it could lead to a repetitive cycle of itching, scratching, and skin barrier damage.

Eczema Eureka #104:
Why scratching hurts so good

Did you know that itch and pain have a working relationship? OK, so they don’t put on suits and ties and trade stories at the water cooler, but research shows that itchiness will actually subside if pain is present, so that's why the slight pain of scratching can hurt so good.

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Itch, scratch, repeat…

First you itch, then you scratch, then you don’t itch anymore, right? Not really—the simple act of scratching may be more harmful than you think because eczema flare-ups may get worse from scratching.

While there are still some unknowns, we do know inflammation plays a role in causing itch. That can lead to scratching, which can cause damage to the surface of your skin, leaving it exposed to irritants and increased inflammation.

This can result in more itching and more scratching and more itching and…you get the point. So, while scratching may bring temporary relief, in the long run it could be causing more harm.

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Eczema Eureka #303: Practice safer scratching

We get it. Sometimes, the need to scratch can be overwhelming. 

Instead, try some of these best practices:

  • Pinch or pat the itchy skin
  • Apply a cold compress
  • Understand and avoid your triggers
  • Wear soft, breathable clothing made of natural fibers

Now that we’ve talked about the itch, it’s time to discuss