Eczema can be defined as a medical skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed, swell up, cracked or filled with blisters. These patches can be itchy, especially during the night, a time where eczema seems to flare up to the point that it may be difficult to sleep.
Research has shown that 33 to 87.1% of adults experience sleep disruption from eczema while as many as 83% of children get affected by it. These sleep disruptions can greatly affect quality of life, especially for children. Therefore it is important to identify the causes for these flare ups and ways to prevent them from happening.
Eczema Flare Ups At Night
Although researchers are not able to figure out the cause of eczema, there are a few environmental and genetic factors that can cause these flare ups.
One of the few reasons eczema becomes worse at night are due to:
The body’s sleep and wake cycles
During the night a person’s temperature will start to decrease, this can make the skin itchy.
Moisturizer has worn off
If a person has already moisturized their skin during the day, most likely it would have been worn off during the night.
Scratching during sleep
Being in a semiconscious sleepy state can cause a person to be more likely to scratch while sleeping, which makes the itchiness worse.
Most of the time when the human body and brain starts going into sleep mode, people tend to forget to hold back from scratching eczema skin patches. The scratches would then make the itch worse and ultimately causing more sleep disruption, which is not something we want.
Methods to Get Good Sleep at Night with Eczema
Here is the most important part of this article! If you forget everything about this article just make sure you remember this part. This may be the difference between you having a good night’s rest or disrupted sleep!
It is essential to avoid eczema triggers before bed to prevent these nighttime eczema flare ups. These can include certain activities and product materials as well. Here are some of the tips to take note:
Moisturize before bed
For long lasting moisture use oil-based moisturizer or medicated creams before bed. Stronger creams can be provided by a doctor if needed.
Bathe at night
Regular bathing helps keep the skin hydrated and in turn prevents infection. Remember to moisturize within 3 minutes of bathing in order to lock hydration into your skin. Medicated baths which contain colloidal oatmeal, vinegar or bleach can help with eczema conditions as well.
Try the wet wrap therapy
After moisturizing skin, wrap a damp cloth around the affected area overnight, this keeps that particular area of the skin hydrated throughout the night.
Avoid harsh fabrics
It is also important to avoid sheets or pyjamas made from wool or polyester which can irritate the skin. Our tip here is to use clothings made from 100% cotton, which tends to be gentler on skin.
Stay away from allergens before bed
Common allergens such as pet dander and pollen should be avoided at all cost especially during the night. People with eczema are known to have allergies and allergens may cause eczema symptoms to be worse.
Wear gloves during Bedtime
Although this may sound weird but having gloves on makes it more difficult scratch and wound the skin at night. Keeping fingernails short can also lessen the damage of scratching.
You can apply your hand cream or body oil before wearing gloves. So you can do skincare to your hand while preventing from scratching during sleeping.
Keep the Room Temperature Low
A hot and sweaty environment makes the skin itchier, so turn on the air conditioner or open the windows to keep the room nice and cool.
Have a consistent sleep time
Going to bed at the same time every night will help a person fully fall asleep much easier thus reducing subconscious scratching. Consider also time for relaxing activities such as reading or meditation to aid falling asleep.
Try to avoid these potential eczema triggers too, especially before sleeping:
- soaps, lotions, and cosmetics that contain fragrances or dyes
- household cleaners
- dust mites
- nickel and other metals
- cigarette smoke
- high-stress situations
In cases where eczema conditions are extremely severe, to the point it stops a person from sleeping, a doctor can provide immunosuppressant medications. These medications help prevent the immune system from overreacting to prevent eczema flare ups. Certain therapies such as phototherapy or light therapy can help with severe eczema as well.
Itching In Babies And Infants
Unfortunately eczema can appear as early as during the infancy period. It usually looks like a rash on the scalp or face. Small as it may be it can also cause nighttime discomfort and itchiness.
The same treatment for adults can be used for these little ones too, however extra precautions need to be taken to keep them comfortable, particularly during the night. Here are ways to reduce eczema symptoms in babies:
Identify and avoid eczema triggers
Have a consistent daily bathing and moisturizing routine.
Antibacterial ointments should be avoided or used with care, even more so if it contains neomycin or bacitracin as they are known to irritate skin.
Check to ensure baby wipes used do not contain isothiazolinones, which also irritates skin.
Avoid using shampoos or other products that contain cocomidopropyl betaine as well.
All in all eczema is a common skin condition that happens to people all around the world. It is non-contagious, but causes itching, rashes, pain and rough patches on skin. However most of children with eczema symptoms tend to get better with age. About 95% of children stop having eczema symptoms after 20 years.
Although eczema may never fully clear up, its symptoms are still manageable. Don’t be discouraged if you have any eczema symptoms, all you need to do is to adjust your lifestyle and adopt certain habits consistently. With that being said, people with eczema can still have a good quality of life.