Suffering from Eczema at Night? Here's Why and What You Can Do About It
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that results in dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can develop at any age. Eczema is most commonly found in children, but it can also affect adults.
The symptoms of eczema can vary from person to person, but they often include red or brownish-gray patches of skin, small raised bumps, and thick, cracked, or scaly skin. It can occur on any part of the body, but it is most commonly found on the hands, feet, wrists, ankles, neck, and face.
What Causes Eczema to Worsen at Night?
There are several reasons why eczema can seem to worsen at night. Firstly, our body temperature naturally drops when we sleep, which can cause our skin to become dry and itchy. This is especially true if we sleep in a room with low humidity or use bedding made from materials that can irritate the skin, such as wool or synthetic fabrics.
Additionally, we tend to scratch more at night, which can further irritate the skin and lead to a vicious cycle of itching and scratching. This can also lead to the development of skin infections, which can make eczema symptoms worse.
Finally, stress and anxiety can also contribute to eczema flare-ups, and many people experience increased stress and anxiety at night. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as worrying about work or personal issues, or simply feeling anxious about the next day.
The Importance of Sleep in Managing Eczema
Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing eczema. Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can trigger eczema flare-ups. Additionally, sleep is essential for our body's natural healing processes and can help to reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin.
To ensure a good night's sleep, it's important to create a sleep-conducive environment. This includes keeping the bedroom cool and dark, using comfortable bedding made from natural materials, and avoiding stimulating activities before bed, such as using electronic devices or engaging in vigorous exercise.
Tips for Managing Eczema at Night
There are several things you can do to manage eczema at night and reduce itching and discomfort. These include:
Moisturize: Apply a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer to your skin before bed to keep it hydrated and prevent dryness and itching.
Use cool compresses: Apply a cool, damp cloth to the affected areas of your skin to reduce inflammation and itching.
Wear cotton clothing: Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from cotton or other natural materials to avoid irritating the skin.
Take an oatmeal bath: Add colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes to soothe the skin and reduce itching.
Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid triggers that can worsen eczema symptoms, such as certain foods, detergents, or environmental factors.
Recommended Skincare Routine for Eczema
A good skincare routine is essential for managing eczema. This includes:
Gentle cleansing: Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser to wash your skin, and avoid harsh soaps or scrubs that can irritate the skin.
Moisturize regularly: Apply a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer to your skin at least twice a day to keep it hydrated and prevent dryness and itching.
Use a topical steroid: Topical steroids can be an effective treatment for eczema, and your dermatologist may prescribe one for you to use as needed.
Take an antihistamine: Antihistamines can help to reduce itching and promote sleep, and your doctor may recommend one for you to take at night.
Natural Remedies for Eczema
Many natural remedies can help to soothe eczema symptoms and reduce itching and inflammation. These include:
Coconut oil: Apply coconut oil to the affected areas of your skin to soothe dryness and itching.
Aloe vera: Apply pure aloe vera gel to your skin to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Tea tree oil: Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it to your skin to reduce itching and inflammation.
Chamomile: Brew a strong cup of chamomile tea and apply it to your skin with a cotton ball to soothe itching and reduce inflammation.
Medications for Eczema
In addition to topical steroids and antihistamines, there are several other medications that can be used to treat eczema. These include:
Calcineurin inhibitors: These medications, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, can be used to reduce inflammation and itching.
Dupixent: Dupixent is an injectable medication that can be used to treat moderate to severe eczema.
Cyclosporine: Cyclosporine is an oral medication that can be used to treat severe eczema, but it is typically reserved for short-term use due to its side effects.
Discussing with a Dermatologist About Eczema
If you are struggling with eczema, it's important to discuss your symptoms with a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help you identify triggers that may be exacerbating your symptoms, prescribe medications or topical treatments that can help to manage your eczema, and provide guidance on developing a skincare routine.
Other Related Conditions That Can Cause Night Itch
While eczema is a common cause of night itch, there are several other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. These include:
Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can cause red, scaly patches of skin that are often itchy and painful.
Urticaria: Urticaria, also known as hives, is a skin condition that causes raised, itchy welts on the skin.
Scabies: Scabies is a skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin, causing intense itching and a rash.
If you are experiencing night itch, it's important to discuss your symptoms with a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause.
Eczema can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, especially when it seems to worsen at night. However, by understanding the causes of night-time eczema and taking steps to manage it, you can reduce itching and discomfort and get the restful sleep you need. If you are struggling with eczema, talk to your dermatologist about developing a personalized treatment plan that works for you.