Control The Itch Without Scratching
Does scratching your itchy skin feel like a never-ending problem? Here’s good news. There are ways to stop that itch-scratch cycle.
If you’re suffering from eczema, you surely know the bittersweet satisfaction that comes from scratching an itchy skin. Whether mild or severe, itching is one of the unavoidable symptoms of eczema. Whenever you itch, your automatic reaction is to scratch your skin, and it surely feels good every time. However, the relief you get from scratching is temporary. What’s worse, scratching may end up aggravating your skin condition. Eczema flares, for instance, can be triggered by the never-ending itch-scratch cycle.
While you might be tempted to blame yourself for being too weak to resist scratching, this automated response to itching is caused by something greater than your will power. There’s actually a scientific study that aims to explain it.
The results of the study conducted by experts from the Center for the Study of Itch of the Washington University School of Medicine suggests that relieving an itch by scratching can actually cause a feeling of pleasure. The pleasure you get from scratching your skin can be connected to both the temporary riddance of the itch and the release of serotonin, a molecule
released by the brain in response to the pain caused by scratching. However, the itch sensation will keep coming back since serotonin will react with receptors on neurons that may carry itch signals to your brain, making the itch worse.
If you find yourself caught up inside such a vicious circle, worry not as there are several things you can do to manage the itch caused by eczema. Here are some tips to finally break that itch-scratch cycle:
The main reason you scratch is to get instant relief from the itch. To avoid scratching, you need to give yourself an alternative that will provide that same quick itch relief you hope to gain from scratching. Before you feel the urge to scratch, apply a topical treatment like Ceradan® Soothing Gel. Containing menthol and polidocanol, Ceradan® Soothing Gel is specially formulated to provide optimal itch relief in just 5 minutes without the unpleasant smell and stinging sensation.
Identifying the possible factors that may aggravate your skin condition is key to putting an end to the eczema itch-scratch cycle. Since eczema triggers vary from person to person, pinpointing what to avoid may be difficult at first. It may require a trial-and-error process and careful observation of what triggers your eczema flares. According to the guidelines for atopic dermatitis management developed by the Dermatological Society of Singapore, the triggers you need to watch out for include excessive heat and sweating, exercise, infections, rough fabrics, house dust mites, stress, contact and food allergens, and irritants like medicated soaps, detergents, bubble baths and grass.
According to an article on itch-scratch cycle published on the Dermatology Practical & Conceptual Journal, dermatological itch triggered by skin barrier flaws will most often be controlled by topical treatments targeting the specific skin condition and using intensive skin moisturizing regimens. Itch caused by eczema is one good example.
If you have eczema, you have a damaged skin barrier function which can be due to deficiency in ceramides, one of the natural lipids that hold together the skin cells. If this isn’t repaired, your skin barrier will lose moisture and eventually fail to protect your body from bacteria and other harmful elements. Thus, it is important to repair your skin barrier with a ceramide-dominant emollient therapy. Consider using Ceradan® Skin Barrier Repair Cream, which is clinically proven to alleviate eczema-prone, dry & sensitive skin conditions. This ceramide-dominant hypoallergenic cream has high physiological lipid content in 3:1:1 optimal lipid ratio for skin barrier repair.
The Dermatological Society of Singapore recommends daily bathing to remove serous crusts. However, washing using high pH soaps may increase the level of proteases that will disrupt the skin barrier. Thus, use of a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic non-soap cleanser with a neutral-to-low pH is advisable. You can use Ceradan® Moisturising Wash. This gentle, non-soap body wash is fragrance-free, paraben-free and SLS-free. It is also pH-balanced and nourishes the skin with ceramides in 3:1:1 optimal lipid ratio.
Stop that vicious itch-scratch cycle as soon as you can. With the right itch relief, proper hygiene and effective skin barrier repair treatment, you can definitely stop the itch without scratching.
Guidelines for the Management of Atopic Dermatitis in Singapore
The Itch-Scratch Cycle: A Review of the Mechanisms
Descending control of itch transmission by the serotonergic system via 5-HT1A-facilitated GRP-GRPR signaling
Serotonin Drives Vicious Cycle of Itching and Scratching