I’ve talked about this in a previous blog post, 30 tips to help you stop scratching but there is one really important factor in all this and that’s you. If you have things in your life that are stressing you, making you anxious, unhappy or scared… you need to fix those first. No amount of clever tactics will work until you sort out that stuff first. Trust me. It’s taken me far too long to work this out for myself.
And clearly I’ve never really got the better of the itch yet since I’m still here writing about it.
My last blog post about mindful scratching is about my current aim, my life strategy right now, to see whether by finally learning to love myself I can truly see myself as someone worth saving from the scratching. Can I do this? Can I stop scratching? For good?
I rearead old blog posts and especially the one above about 30 tips… did I really write that and then forget it all so easily?
I won’t lie, I’m not finding this easy at all, there are times when it’s impossible not to have a scratch e.g. in the bath (loofah), at night when I get hot, any areas I can’t see I’m struggling not to scratch. So it’s a battle but I am making progress.
So for now, I will be putting the loofah away in a box with all the other things I cannot be trusted with right now…
Items to hide away as I am not responsible enough to have access to them:
- Tweezers – Kept away from easy reach. I do need these as no one wants to see my unibrow
- Finger nails (my own) must be kept completely short
- Finger bookmark which I used to scratch – in the bin
- All combs – Hidden with the loofah
So I thought I’d share with you some of the key things that are actually helping at the moment.
- Love yourself – And I mean really care for yourself. You are amazing and if you are reading this then the chances are you or someone you know is struggling with eczema, psoriasis or a similar itchy skin condition. It’s not your fault. You are precious, beautiful and worth all the efforts you can make to help your skin to heal. Do everything you can. It’s worth it.
- Be gentle – Slow down. Be gentle. Apply your moisturisers slowly, calmly, deliberately and mindfully. Aggressive rubbing and rushing to apply emollients can just set off an itch fest and aggravate your skin. Do this whenever you itch, and as often as you need to. And when you think you’ve applied enough, slap on some more.
- Emollient – Have loads of it, everywhere. Tubs downstairs, tubs in the bathroom, tubs in your bag, in the bedroom, at work, in your car. NEVER EVER run out.
- Treat yourself – Don’t just stick with the bog standard prescription emollients, though when you are using a lot of the stuff, it’s good to have this as an all over smothering option, but also buy your favourite brands. Mine are Pure Potions Skin Salvation and Gems Dry Skin Balm. Use these on the soreist bits and use lovingly.
- Silk gloves – Perfect for sore hands. Slather on the best emollient you have, then some more, then a bit more and then put on these amazing silk gloves for as long as you can. Jasmine Silk Ultmate Pure Silk Moisturising Gloves Adult Eczema Hands Skincare One Size – Unisex
- BigTed I was reluctant to include this one as I am a little embarrassed to hold so much importance on a giant teddy bear, but there you have it. He would sit on end of the bed looking at me balefully saying, ‘please don’t hurt yourself like that human’. And all he had to offer was a cuddle but I began to reach for him and hold him while I rocked myself in a ball of angry pain and delirium as the itch consumed me. And I discovered that sometimes just having this bear in my arms and feeling as if I was being held, cuddled and supported in return was incredibly helpful. He is a pretty huge bear so it is almost like having real living breathing human in your arms. Obviously if you have a real person to hand this will probably be far more beneficial but actually, when you are in the depths of despair it’s hard to tell another human how you really feel and harder still to demand that they are there for you whenever you need them with nothing given in return.
- Hold – I find this hard as once you are holding an area that itches it can easily turn into a scratch, but just hold, tightly and firmly and count to 30. See if the itch will subside without needing to be scratched.
- Tap – Same principle as above, gently tap the spot that itches and all the time try to relax, breathe deeply, ground youself, release the tension in your shoulders and try to resist the itch.
- Pinch or press – these all sound similar but are slightly different. I can sometimes get more relief from those liquid filled blistery things that pop up by just gently digging in a finger nail (if you have any left) or just pressing hard or pinching. Sometimes you can release the pressure without the raking damage of a full on scratch.
- Stroke – This one works really well for me. By gently stroking the itching area, in a smooth movement away from the centre of my body, so outwards towards the end of a limb for instance, it as if I am calmly erasing the itch out of my body. This doesn’t always work but every time I conquer an itch is a success in my book.
- Tubi-Grips – Call it a bonus tip, I can’t stop yet. I have found these really helpful. Before bed I smother the sore bit, at the moment feet, ankles and lower legs in emollient and healing oil such as tea tree, then put on a tubi-grip. A combination of the pressure and preventing me from scratching works really well and I’ve been sleeping better, avoiding scratching in my sleep and itching less.
Don’t be disheartened, the skin can get worse when you start to be successful at avoiding itching. The inflammation wants you to scratch it. In fact it’s so used to you doing that that it will keep on teasing, prodding and urging you to itch again and again and it can take months to break this itch scratch habit or cycle. Keep persevering. Every itch you don’t scratch is a win. Every time you succeed is a step closer. You may never have completely eczema free skin, but hopefully we should all be able to get to a place where we can avoid most of the itches.
I also found the following sources helpful: