Why is Atopic Dermatitis Worse at Night?
Why eczema seems to start itching more just before bedtime or right after falling asleep? Itching more at night from eczema or dermatitis is one of the most frustrating things about eczema, atopic dermatitis, dermatitis, contact dermatitis or any type of itchy skin. If you have eczema or are a parent of a child with eczema, we're sure you’ve tried everything under the sun to help the itch at sundown. This itchiness at bedtime is a real phenomenon and not just your imagination.
Why does the eczema itch more at night? It’s very simple – the secretion of cortisol which is the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory hormone. Cortisol is at its highest level in the morning and the lowest level at night.
Do you wake up or your child wakes up in the morning and find that there was itching during sleep? The cortisol has yet to kick in. It hardly seems fair that eczema can be so miserable and itchy for people and kids that are desperate for sleep.
How can you help calm this crazy nighttime itching? First, trim nails. Then bath in lukewarm water for at least 10 minutes with minimal soap. You can find an eczema cleanser free of irritants here. Then apply a moisturizer immediately after toweling off. You can find a perfect eczema moisturizer here.
Apply a damp wrap under their regular cotton pajamas. This damp wrap calms the itch and repairs the skin barrier to really help itchy sleepers. Studies on Wet Wrap Therapy show an average reduction in symptoms by 71%. Make sure your damp wrap is FDA regulated and designated for Wet Wrap Therapy. These garments are designed for the Wet Wrap Therapy Treatment and make the process comfortable and very effective. They also have features such as built in hand covers to prevent scratching and no entry points to itch. Tencel® fabric is wonderful for damp wrapping. Tencel® has been proven through verifiable testing to be superior for eczema and sensitive skin and the fabric is anti-itch and holds 50% more moisture than cotton. Don’t use synthetic fabrics, fabrics infused with zinc or fabrics that have dyes.
Other techniques to help the itching at night is consider mattress encasements. Dust mites are a known eczema trigger and putting a barrier between your child and the dust mites in their mattress can really help. Mission Allergy has great dust mite bedding encasements at www.MissionAllergy.com. Also consider purchasing Tencel® eczema sheets. These sheets are made specifically for eczema and sensitive skin. They are expensive but well worth it in restful, uninterrupted sleep for an eczema sufferer.
Daytime itching is decreased by higher levels of Cortisol in the body but also by distractions. Active children are less likely to notice their eczema. There is also another naturally occurring chemical in the body that is highest during the day and helps with calming the itch – histamine. Unfortunately, histamine is lowest at night which increases nighttime itching. Even with higher levels of Cortisol and Histamine, if you child itches during the day consider a dry wrap under their regular clothing. This not only calms the itch, but is an extra protection layer for the damaging itch. Again, Tencel® is the fabric of choice for anti-itch day protection. Tencel® is also thermo-regulating which is great for eczema sufferers as salt in sweat can really aggravate eczema. Tencel® is also great over creams and emollients during the day.