Eczema in Adults: Dealing With Itching

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3. Use cold compresses to soothe itchy skin.

Cold compresses applied to the skin can also soothe itch. You can place an ice pack inside a plastic bag or soft towel. Hold the ice next to the itchy skin for a few minutes or as needed to help relieve itch.

4. Wear comfortable fabrics that feel good.

Choose comfortable, loose-fitting fabrics that make your skin feel good. Cottons and cotton blends are usually the most comfortable. Avoid coarse materials, wool, and synthetic fabrics since these fabrics can irritate your skin.

5. Keep your fingernails short to prevent skin damage.

Short fingernails cause less damage to the skin if you do happen to scratch. If you find yourself scratching at night, try wearing cotton gloves to bed.

6. Ask about eczema medications.

If none of these steps helps with itch control, ask your doctor about medications. When used as directed, these medications work well to control eczema flare-ups. "Topical anti-inflammatory creams, such as 1% hydrocortisone, are useful during a flare," says Cambio. "But you might need a stronger prescription if over-the-counter treatments don’t appear to control symptoms."

Oral antihistamines can also help relieve the itch of eczema. These are medications that you take by mouth. "Although experts disagree about how helpful antihistamines are for eczema, many patients find that they do help relieve itch," says Eichenfield. But be careful if you’re using antihistamines during the day because some can make you sleepy.

With so many ways to relieve itching, there’s no need to suffer. "If you’re really suffering with itch, or it’s keeping you up at night, see your doctor. It’s likely that your eczema is undertreated," says Eichenfield.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 29, 2012



Lawrence Eichenfield, MD, chief of Pediatric Dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego; professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, medical director of Cambio Dermatology, Cape Coral, Fla. "Eczema: Tips on How to Care for Your Skin."

National Eczema Association: "Bathing and Moisturizing."

American Academy of Dermatology: EczemaNet: "Preventing Flare-Ups."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Atopic Dermatitis."

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