Friday, August 15, 2014

Tips on hydration and how to control the Itching of your skin.

If you suffer with eczema, or if you know somebody who suffers with this problem, I'm sure you understand the implications and frustration of not being able to stop the itch. While here in Avéne, I have learnt so much about skin hydration and how important it is to make sure the skin is properly hydrated to keep this condition under control. Here are some tips for you:


Use soap free products only. Soap drys your skin and stays on the skin for up to 8 hours. Use a cleansing gel or dermatological bar. Don't use facecloths or sponges as they aggravate the skin and can carry bacteria. Rather use your hands to wash the affected areas. Your hands are cleaner and more gentle.
Skin dryness increases with heat, so try stick to 5 minute showers. Turn the water off while soaping the body. Remember that the less contact your skin has with chlorinated water (city water) the better it is for you. The temperature of water should be around 32°C. Avoid baths as they take the moisture out of the skin. If you do bath, add a liquid emollient (moisturizer) to the water. Don't stay in the bath too long because the chlorine in the water will irritate the skin.
Wash your hair with a mild dermatological shampoo. Do this at night if you suffer with pollen allergies so that the pollen gets washed out of the hair before going to bed. Never rub the skin while drying the body, rather dab or pat the skin dry.


Always wash your hands before applying moisturizer! Moisturizing twice everyday it will soften and protect the skin. Winter needs a more oily cream than summer because the air is dry.
Creams stop allergens from entering the skin. Too much cream makes the skin hot and will irritate the itch, so apply a thin layer of cream onto the body. The skin absorbs more cream after a shower so be sure to moisturize after every shower. This way, you will also use less cream. Avoid rubbing cream onto skin. Apply the cream gently, in circular motions. Warm the cream in your hands before applying it to the skin. Use a cream with Copper + Zinc in it for quick healing of open sores. It will also prevent bacterial infections. Do not apply moisturizers to open sores. Drink a lot of  water every day: 1.5 liters for children and at least 2 liters for adults.


Massage the face, starting from the center, moving slowly to the outside. Gently apply using a finger tapping motion around the eyes. On the legs, use long up and down motions. Avoid fast rubbing motions with pressure, this will aggravate the skin.

Scratching: A vicious cycle!

It starts with inflammation and dry skin; then the itching starts. The itching quickly becomes uncontrollable scratching, leading to infection and more inflammation. And so the cycle continues. If any one of these can be taken out of the cycle, the cycle breaks.

Causes of itching: Inflammation, dry skin, heat, perspiration, stress, habit and boredom. Find a solution to boredom. Avoid saying things like, "Stop scratching." Rather say, "Can I help you?" or "Let me help you." The patient often doesn't realise he/ she is scratching, and by telling him/ her to stop scratching often makes one want to scratch more. I'm sure you know the feeling.

Here are some tips to deal with those itchy areas: 

  • Apply a tissue over the itchy area and spray ice water over it, and leave for a while. Afterwards take the tissue off and dry the area. Apply the correct moisturizer.
  • Spray the area with ice water then fan it.
  • Gel packs are great for itches. First apply tissue paper and place the gel pack on top.
  • Massage the area with a smooth, small stone from a river. Keep it in the fridge to make it cold. Keep one in your pocket to play with to help combat boredom. The stone will keep your hands busy instead of scratching.
  • Try rubbing a Massage wheel over your itchy areas.
  • Instead of scratching, tap or apply pressure to the area. 
  • Keep your nails short.
  • A stress ball will help to keep the hands busy.
  • For children, take a teddy bear and stick velcro to the back of it. Teach your child to rather scratch the back of the teddy bear. Stick velcro in the lining of a pencil box for school, on the back of a cell phone or anywhere you would like.
  • Relaxation techniques are important since a lot of scratching is from stress or habit .Read, practice deep breathing or listen to soft music at night to help relax the body and the mind.
  • Use cotton gloves when sleeping so if you have the urge to scratch while sleeping, the skins won't get damaged. For children, draw a pet or a face on the the gloves so that the child feels like he/ she is looking after a pet.
  • Avoid using too many blankets. Heat starts to aggravate the skin at around 18 degrees. Keep cool while sleeping.