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scratching in sleep

Nancy asked:

Constantly itchy skin is one of the worst things about my eczema. In general I have enough willpower not to srcatch during the day, but at night I can’t control scratching in my sleep! When I wake up every morning I am covered in fresh cuts and scratches and it is really demoralizing…. not to mention extremely sore!!!

Can anyone tell me how to stop scratching in sleep?

Causes Of Eczema

28 Responses to “scratching in sleep”

  • George 1 says:

    Natural Eczema Cure

    To avoid scratching in your sleep wear gloves or even put socks on over your hands at night.

  • Ed says:

    Red Itchy Skin Help

    Hi Nancy,

    Keep your skin covered with long sleeves etc at night, and if it’s hot sleep in an air conditioned room. This should help stop scratching in your sleep.


  • William says:

    Red Itchy Skin Help

    I wear long sleeved pyjamas and gloves in bed to stop scratching in sleep.

  • Stuart says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I found that the best way to avoid scratching when you are asleep is to apply lots of cream to keep your skin moisturized and avoid it becoming dry and itchy during the night, and then cover your hands with gloves.

    The only thing to watch with gloves is that although they stop your nails doing a lot of damage, sometimes you can scratch / rub so hard that the gloves rub / burn the skin, sometimes leaving painful patches with no skin at all.

    The other thing that I found was that even though I was sleeping, I would remove the gloves and sratch as normal.

    Eventually I resorted to covering my entire body with bandages at night, and ensuring that each section of bandage was connected / tied to the next section so I could not easily remove the bandages in my sleep. I.e. the hand section of bandage was tied to the arm section of bandage, the arm section was then tied to the torso section etc.

    Although it was tedious to apply the bandages every night, it was worth it when my skin was really bad as it felt amazing to wake each morning without cuts, scratches and excruciating pain!

    All the best,

  • Lisa says:

    I share the same problem, and have scratched in my sleep for years. I wake up with claw marks all over my arms, neck and face, which really gets me down, plus blood all over the sheets. My doctor prescribed sleeping tablets and a drowsy antihistimine, but i was still doing it. I also tried hypnotherapy but it didnt work.

    What did help was wearing cotton gloves, but found I was taking them off in my sleep. So I would suggest sellotaping the gloves to your wrists.

    Your nails are naturally sharp, so I decided to have acrylic false nails on my hands. These are blunter and thicker, so even when you scratch it doesnt do as much damage as your natural nail. You could consider this.

    I also sleep with the window open / air conditioning. Cotton long sleeved PJs, light duvet cover.

    I am going to try stuart’s suggestion of bandages.

    You’re not alone and I know how you feel. I woke up today so sore with scratches that it hurts to get dressed.

    Best of luck
    Lisa, UK

  • Aaron says:

    hey guys,

    i’m gonna try out taping socks over my hands. i’ve tried the socks method before, but i always take them off without noticing. seeing that others have the same problems is reassuring. i’m gonna try taping tonight and see how it goes.

  • Katrina says:

    I know I’m a habitual scratcher. I don’t realise I’m scratching, and I also feel that my eczema wouldn’t be such a problem if I didn’t scratch so much. No amount of steroids help me. It gets worse at night time. I can’t sleep properly, am forever scratching. I found using a sock as a glove somewhat useful, but it comes off in the night, and I scratch even more. Recently, I found applying vicks vapour rub to the itchy area gives it a slight tingly feeling which takes away the need to scratch. The problem with this is I go around smelling like vicks, and it wears off, then you feel itchy again. Sometimes I wonder, am I actually itchy, or does scratching really feel that good? Which is why I think I’m addicted to the sensation of scratching. I feel satisfied that I understand the reason why I scratch, but as a habit, it’s even harder to give up. I desperately need help. Any advice????

  • ShawnaLynn says:

    I have this same problem, but when I wear gloves to bed I feel as if I’m being sufficated. If my hands and feet can’t breathe I have anxiety attacks and in turn can’t breath either. Is there another solution to this problem?

  • Stuart says:

    Hi Lisa, Aaron, Katrina and ShawnaLynn.

    I completely understand your situations, scratching in your sleep is one of the most frustrating things about having eczema.

    There are a few other things you could try…..

    A) Try taking antihistamines to reduce the itch.

    B) Try and keep your body temperature at a comfortable level in bed. I found that anytime I started to sweat it made me really itchy and then it spiralled out of control. But on the other hand, if I was too cold it made my skin really sore.

    C) I noticed that the areas that I scratched in my sleep were the same areas of my body that I scratched while I was awake. I decided that I should test myself to see if my observation was correct, so I consciously made a real effort not to scratch a certain area of my body during the day, for example my arms. After making a conscious effort not to scratch my arms for a couple of days, sure enough I found that I had stopped scratching my arms during my sleep, but I had continued to scratch the areas of my body that I had been scratching during the day.

    So I expanded on this success by making a conscious effort not to scratch other areas of my body, bit by bit, area by area I reduced my scratching during my waking hours and this followed suit into my sleeping hours.

    Results were not instant but it worked. It really depends on how much of an effort you make during your waking hours.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best,

  • Daniel says:

    Hey guys
    I’ve had severe eczema even getting hospitalized for it during my senior high school exams
    And so I have learnt some things to cOntrol my itch when I sleep
    My dermatologist gave me some emulsifying ointment with menthol which soothes the skin, sort of like an icy feeling
    And I would put that on before I slept
    Also I did try cotton gloves but it would usually just come off in my sleep so what I did was I got some soccer socks and put them over my long sleeve shirt but even with short nails I would sort of scratch through so what I do now is
    I get a pair of cotton gloves and put them on then I put golf gloves on on top of it
    This is because the cotton sort of cushions my nails from scratching through the golf gloves
    Plus as the golf gloves are quite durable it does not rip or tear. This is what I do now before I sleep
    The gloves also have a the zippy thingo so it does not easily come off.
    And in normal itchy occasions when I’m not sleeping the menthol with emulsifying ointment really helps but bare in mind it gets quite oily and wets your clothes

    Another tip is to try and reduce steroid ointments on your face, reason being that it thins your skin and because I played soccer and played a lot outside in the hot Aussie sun my face would look and feel extremely red and socially uncomfortable
    I would just cake on ointments and creams on effected areas and of course it helps you but now I use the emulsifying ointment but without the menthol, because it’s uncomfortable on the face
    I just use it as a sort of moisturizer and it really helps as the emulsifying ointment is quite thick so it does not sort of shine in the sunlight. The emulsifying ointment is really just an oil base mixed into water and it is basically a white cream. (not trying to sell this) but it really saves my life as I would have scaly skin all over my body and weeping skin and this stuff really helped me out
    Now I just administer to affected areas to keep it moisturized and I just make the cuts and scratches to heal themselves because most of the time the ointment seems to cover up the signs of minor scratches and scaly skin

    I hope this really helped because no one should be going through a tough period alone especially with eczema
    This really brought me to my knees in high school with it making me depressed and anti social
    I really and truly hope this helps someone who is suffering

  • Daniel says:

    Oh and what Stuart says is right
    The anti histamine did help me heaps, I’ve been taking it for one year now but that stuff is pretty good
    It’s not straight away effective but it helps to suppress your immune system to Histamines which trigger (in an easy way) you to itch
    All the best

  • Myles says:

    go on the raw food diet and try juice fasting..think of eczema less like a disease in an of itself and more like a symptom of the fact that your body is not eliminating correctly. it ends up excreting toxins through the skin. it is often caused by poor diet and it IS curable thru nutrition..the only way out that is actually proven to work is to heal your body by nourishing it with fruits and vegetables, figuring out which foods you eat that cause eczema, and allowing your body the opportunity to detoxify.. now what happens here is that your body will most likely go through an extended phase where the symptoms of eczema get much worse..this is known as a healing crisis. again, the eczema on your skin is an attempt by your body to excrete toxins so think of this as very necessary. it is painful but worth it. in the realm of modern medicine, it is very controversial to talk about curing autoimmune conditions through diet alone but the problem is that pharmaceutical drugs only treat the symptoms. eczema is often a signal of improper inner organ functioning and all these ointments can do is try to treat the skin. it’s like cure chronic diahrrea by treating your butt!..that may be where the problem is most visible but its definitely not where it starts! aside from that, many medicines prescribed contain steroids that make the eczema worse in the long run. doctors may disagree, but you can look up on youtube or search on google “cure eczema through nutrition” and you will hear from many people who have actually gone through this themselves.. quite amazing. beyond that, eczema is only one on a long list of autoimmune diseases that is getting cured through nutrition. skin conditions, vision problems, arthritis, diabetes, even cancer! check out the raw food diet. we live in an age of highly processed nutrient deficient foods, and our bodies our severely malnourished. the interesting thing is that your body is naturally intelligent, and it is designed to survive and flourish. given the proper care (diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, good sleep patterns, regulated stress levels, positive mindstate) it can heal and will heal itself from all diseases. good luck to all of you..

  • hronisss says:

    hi everybody. i’m 24 and i’m suffering from eczema 7 years already! i have tried anything such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and several remedies with cortisone. nothing really worked! one month ago somebody advised me to try Aloe Vera. i drink Aloe Jel and use a couple of creams. What do you thing about that?It’s quite expenssive and needs a lot of time but if it will work???

  • diane says:

    This happens to me some nights. I usually take an antihistamine before bed.

  • peython says:

    Hey guys. im a 15 year old girl and i severly scratch, constantly. i cant control myself. in my sleep its worse of all. it gets me down a lot and knocks my confidence,it unables me to do lot of things and wear ceratin clothes. I need to stop because its ruining me to be honest. any suggestions on what to do? much appreciated!

  • Ashley says:

    Ive had eczema for my entire life. When I was little i used to get it on my face and arms. When I was in middle school and junior high my eczema went away for a while. It came back when I was a freshman in high school and had to swim in gym class. I am now a senior in high school and since freshman year my eczema has been comes and goes on my legs but it is absolutely horrible in my armpits. Not only is my eczema worse there but it’s an awkward place to scratch! I went to my dermatologist and got a prescription for this ointment called protopic and I swear it’s a miracle worker. For the first week or so it burned so bad when I would put it on the affected area before bed and this made it difficult to sleep through the night because not only did my armpits burn but the burning sensation made them itch even more. I couldnt stop myself from scratching in my sleep, and I figured if I tried to wear gloves I would ultimately take them off in my sleep. So instead I taped gauze on top of the affected area and ointment, and this sort of prevented me from scratching. After a week or so of this, the burning stopped and I now just put a small amount of the ointment on every other day. This ointment basically cleared up my eczema. However when I stop using the ointment for a certain amount of time, my eczema does come back and I end up having to do this whole process again.

  • rhea says:

    Hi everybody. I have good news!!!

    I’ve been suffering from eczema ever since, but through the years it just keeps getting worst.
    One day I decided to stop eating CRAP food. such as ANYTHING processed…All i ate was steamed veggies and fruits.
    occasionally some grilled/steamed fish. take note: no seasoning…maybe a lil salt. at least..
    and i am a FREAK for fresh chilies yes..i eat them raw during meals
    During my “meat free/preservative free/crap free” diet, I was also doing exercise to sweat. I’m one of those who would sweat the last in the gym. and…i drink gallons of water a day (toilet toilet toilet)

    Observations…my poop was usually black (i guess all the toxins stored) then my skin started glowing…as if HOPE just came back. or HOPE was there all along! I didn’t realized that i was scratching less…till i scratched no more!
    i felt clean inside, and it shows outside. IT TOTALLY WORKS.

    then after 1 and a half month…slowly i started eating like normal people…for the first 5 months I was still happy because i thought my allergies disappeared! then…i totally forgot how i got there and just ate like theres no tomorrow!!! meat meat meat EK. …

    mcdonalds the worst shit. my allergies came back..ALL of it..Its like going back to stage 1 again -_-
    Now i know the truth…so when they say you are what you eat, ITS TRUE. too bad we have abnormal immune system..and i know its going to be difficult accepting that we aren’t suppose to live like most people can. but please. health is wealth…health is happiness…stop eating crap food, allow your body to heal, listen and feel your body’s pain…dont listen to junk food.

    I hope this helps. I am so sure it will…its really difficult to suddenly eat healthy..coz I LOVE EATING!! so..i helped my self by taking pills that would suppress my appetite (from all the MSGs) until i trained my mind mentally, I really put alot of effort and it is totally awesomely worth it.

    To bad it came back coz i lost control…….now im trying to detox again

  • Linus says:

    Hey guys.
    I’ve read most of these posts and all of them have helped alot!! So thankyou everyone who has posted. I was wondering what cream everyone used? and whether SudoCreme worked particularly well?
    I also wanted to know if anyone uses any relaxation methods and if so what did you do?
    One more thing, cream doesnt seem to help the eczema on my face, is anyone else finding this at all??
    Thankyou everyone and please help:) x

  • Sammy says:

    Hi all ive read through everyone elses story and thought I would share my own I’m 21 yr old and have had severe eczema from birth. It cleared up a litt, e through primary school. But I havefound that my hormones will flare my skin up…and of course I am lucky I can have up to 3 periods a month.. the best treatments I can recommend is…. for dry skin on face. Go to holland and barret and askfor allergenics cream within a week skin is clearly less flakey. For itching the best pill is fexofenidine otherwise known as telefast. 2 hour before bed is normally about right.

    Thats all I have found. Theother problem I have is uncontrollable shakes all over…this only happens when flared up any suggestions???

  • Anne says:

    Hi, I am 16 and have had eczema my whole life. About 4 years ago I started a desensitization treatment, as my eczema is generally triggered by dust and pollens/grasses etc. My skin improved dramatically, and the course is only three years, so last year I finished it. But recently, this year I have noticed my skin has gotten really bad. Whenever I exercise my skin feels really itchy and I get eczema, and also I scratch a lot more, especially in my sleep. I have tried wearing gloves, taking anti-histemines, bathing in Pinetarcol, and turning of my heater at night, but I am still scratching in my sleep. When I wear gloves they just come off or I take them off to scratch subconsciously. Like someone previously mentioned, I just think I have got into a habit of scratching and need to break it. Doe anyone have any further advice or suggestions? I am getting desperate with my school ball coming up in a couple of weeks.

  • Zoe says:

    I don’t have eczema but I do have the scratching in my sleep problem, I used to have really deep scratches that now they have become scars, I only have it on my legs and arms and it really lowers my self confidence of wearing short things, I always wear jackets and jeans to cover it up, there are so many scars that once someone asked me if I get abused…
    I have tried the bandage thing and it worked for a while but sometimes I would scratch so much that they come off, it’s also a bother to have to put them on every night, I’ve also tried wrapping my legs and arms in gauze but that also comes off… And I have tried the gloves thing and it doesn’t work either, any other ideas?

  • Feel your pain says:

    One of the things that really helped me is applying coconut oil for 15 minutes each day. Although you will not see a drastic improvement immediately, after 3 days you will notice your skin is extremely soft due to the moisture the oil gives to the area you apply to. This really helps because it prevents dry skin especially when going outside in the cold and coming back inside to heated area which dries your skin. Hope this helps.

  • Stopstrachinggal says:

    Hi straching crew,
    Great to hear all you advice and comments. Had eczema as child and went to dermo every month.uesd loth of steroid and “white cream”. It has bee coming and going over the years but now at 44 it seems to be back with a vengeance. I love to strach and sometimes I knoe or think I am creating the itch. However
    Keep temp not to hot
    Try to have cool air around
    don’t. have very hot baths or showers. However good the heat feels your skin-will pay
    Take exersies( sorry about spelling) this type of sweat gets the poison out of the body
    put cream on whenever you need. Carry cream with you
    Count to ten then stop straching
    Count to seven then stop
    Count to three then stop
    Eat well
    There is more but I have to go
    Coconut oil is good stuff and check out ‘pulling oill’
    Peace and love

  • Courtney says:

    I have eczema really badly on my forearms, and thighs, i cannot seem to stop scratching! No matter what cream I use I end up scratching in my sleep, deep and hard enough to make me bleed. I am going to try the antihistamines before bed, but any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated as it is making it difficult to just go about daily life normally.

  • eczema sucks! says:

    I’ve also had pretty bad eczema all over my legs, arms, knees, elbows, etc. During my last flare up last year, I kept scratching myself and my scabs to the point where some of my scabs would repeatedly stay open and bloody, then waking up with bloody nails and hands was the worst feeling ever.

    I tried gloves, but I always ended up just taking them off in my sleep. Wearing pajamas helped a lot but it didn’t solve the issue either, since I just scratched through the pajamas. What helped solve the issue for me was putting cardboard inside my pajamas so that my nails could not penetrate the cardboard and scratch the skin. This helped me a ton and I simply put it under clothing to help protect my skin. Not a perfect solution, but it allowed my skin to air while still protecting it from scratches.

  • Bok says:

    I’m 27 and never knew I had before. I got this cheap suit they gave me for work and I start gtneitg reactions from it (it’s polyester and wool), believe it or not I work security for a very high end company under the Gucci group and they gave me this cheap suit. Anyways, it got really bad and when I met up with my mother recently she told me I had ezcema as a kid. So the point is I’m 27 past 25 and holloween costumes, usually cheap polyester, be optomistic, but still a realist.

  • Carole says:

    i take antihistamine every day, I moisturise,I use steroid cream, nothing helps. I itch constantly. I scratch myself so badly, especially at night. I wear gloves but take them off in my sleep. I am so fed up with itching all the time.

  • Eli says:

    Hi, I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone… I’ve tried many tricks in order to help my 7 year old daughter who has eczema outbreaks and constantly scratches during her sleep. She really tries so much not to scratch during the day and it’s so disappointing for her to wake up with new wounds… One evening last winter I discovered that I was out of bandages (we were trying bandaging her arms for sleeping that period) and i was trying to think of an alternative to cover her arms… So I took one of my jumpers and I used needle and thread to stitch closed the sleeves. I gave it to her to wear overnight anxious that she might feel kind of trapped in that thing but no, she immediately started laughing about her oversized jumper dancing around and went to sleep very happy. It worked perfectly for her problem because her nails were covered the whole night and it was something she couldn’t just take off while asleep, like socks for example. That was it! From that night onwards, she went to sleep every time with pajamas with stitched sleeve openings and her condition was dramatically improved. Her skin wounds healed and she was less itchy during the day too. Of course she is still bothered by her condition, but it is far better now. Try it!

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