Treating Nighttime Eczema: Give Your Skin a Needed Rest

A woman applies cream to her hands to treat dermatitis. Skin diseases. Close-up. Flat lay.

Key Points

  • The eczema itch, along with this condition's general discomfort, makes getting a restful, unbroken night of sleep challenging.

  • If you suffer from eczema and are looking for ways to control it at night, you've come to the right place.

  • This article explores nighttime eczema and how to obtain relief and reclaim uninterrupted nights of sleep.

Do you suffer from eczema? Is nighttime the worst time for you? Do you toss and turn, itching and scratching? If so, you're not alone. Eczema affects millions of people all over the world, many of whom have experienced more eczema-driven sleepless nights than they care to recall.

This chronic condition's relentless itching, inflammation, and discomfort can make restful sleep seem like an elusive dream. However, the night is also an opportune time to give your eczema-prone skin the care it needs to heal and repair. This article explores how to take care of eczema-prone skin at night as well as topical treatments formulated for overnight eczema relief.

The Importance of Nighttime Repair and Hydration

Nighttime is when your body naturally focuses on repair and regeneration, and this applies to your skin as well. For individuals with eczema, the repair process is particularly critical. Your skin's barrier function is more permeable at night, allowing topical treatments to penetrate deeper and work more effectively.

You're also exposed to fewer environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution at night. These elements interfere with the healing process, so nighttime gives your skin a respite to repair in peace. Skin also loses moisture throughout the day, so nighttime provides an opportunity to replenish and lock in hydration, crucial for eczema-prone skin.

Eczema Night Creams

When it comes to managing eczema, finding the right nighttime topical treatments is crucial. Several products have been developed to provide relief and support skin healing during the night. One of these products is eczema-specific night creams. Many skincare brands offer specialized night creams tailored to eczema-prone skin. These creams often contain ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and colloidal oatmeal to soothe and hydrate.

In some eczema cases, dermatologists may prescribe medicated creams or ointments containing ingredients like corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors for nighttime use to manage eczema symptoms. These products, especially corticosteroids, are powerful treatment agents that can provide relief but must also be used strictly as directed by your healthcare professional.

Fragrance-free occlusives, emollients, and ointments, such as petroleum jelly or Aquaphor, lock in moisture without irritation, creating a protective barrier on the skin and preventing water loss. To get the most out of these products, apply them liberally to eczema-prone areas and any dry patches. Pay special attention to areas prone to eczema flare-ups, such as the face, elbows, knees, and hands. Reapply these products as needed throughout the night if you wake up and feel dry or itchy.

Overnight masks offer another option for dealing with nighttime eczema. These masks replenish and rejuvenate skin. Look for products with ingredients like niacinamide and shea butter for added benefit.

Nighttime Skincare Routines

A well-planned nighttime skincare routine can significantly benefit individuals with eczema. Here's a step-by-step guide for achieving soothing, restorative sleep:

  1. Gentle cleansing: Begin with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser to remove dirt and impurities. Avoid hot water, as it can strip the skin of natural oils.

  2. Topical treatment: Apply your chosen eczema-specific night cream, ointment, or prescription topical treatment as recommended by your dermatologist. Be sure to follow their instructions.

  3. Emollient or ointment: Layer on an emollient or ointment to lock in moisture. These products create a protective barrier on the skin's surface, preventing water loss.

  4. Hand care: If you have eczema on your hands, apply a thicker hand cream or ointment and wear cotton gloves overnight to maximize absorption.

  5. Moisturize your body: Apply a moisturizer over your entire body, focusing on areas prone to eczema flare-ups. Choose a product designed for sensitive skin.

Tips for Nighttime Eczema Management

In addition to topical treatments and skincare routines, improving your overall sleep quality can significantly impact eczema management. Here are some tips to ensure a peaceful night's rest:

  • Opt for breathable, soft fabrics like cotton for your sleepwear to minimize friction and irritation.

  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable, cool temperature, as overheating can trigger eczema itching.

  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom to maintain optimal humidity levels, preventing excessive drying of the skin.

  • Use hypoallergenic bedding and pillowcases to minimize exposure to potential allergens that can worsen eczema.

  • Keep your nails trimmed short to prevent unintentional scratching during sleep. Consider wearing cotton gloves if necessary.

  • Aim for a consistent sleep schedule to regulate your body's internal clock and promote restful sleep.

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to reduce stress, which can exacerbate eczema symptoms.

  • If nighttime itching and discomfort persist despite your efforts, consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional for further guidance and potential adjustments to your treatment plan.

Write Your Way to Less Stress

Stress is a significant contributor to eczema symptoms and flare-ups in many eczema sufferers. In an August 2023 article, the National Eczema Association (NEA) endorsed journaling as one way for sufferers to reduce stress in their lives. The aim is to focus on one's inner thoughts and feelings and put them to paper, channeling emotions and insights onto the page.

Research has shown this method an effective way to alleviate feelings of anxiety, sadness, grief, depression, and other emotions that otherwise get bottled up.

Board-certified behavior analyst Eunice Yu, who also works as a Chicago-based yoga therapist, told NEA that she recommends journaling for people with eczema. She tells clients that journaling can be particularly effective for those struggling with eczema's chronic, spiraling cycle of itching and scratching.

“Oftentimes, in that cycle," Yu explains, "patients with severe atopic dermatitis are left feeling isolated in the chronic cycle of itch. Keeping a journal gives you back the control to reflect or record or even rewrite and reframe your mindset throughout that chronic cycle. I have been told by patients who have eczema that journaling has become a preferred self-regulatory best practice for stress and anxiety relief. It becomes an outlet for them, as much as it becomes a way to record and track their progress.”

Eczema Product Recommendations

The following products offer proven, gentle ingredients that promote skin restoration, hydration, and rejuvenation. Apply them before sleep to take full advantage of your skin's nighttime repair and regeneration process.

Advanced Repair Body Cream
$14.95 ($0.93 / Ounce)

by Eucerin 

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02/25/2024 05:11 pm GMT

Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream

Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream is a dermatologist-recommended product formulated to address the unique needs of eczema-prone skin during the night. With a rich blend of ceramides and urea, it delivers intense hydration and repairs the skin's compromised barrier, a hallmark of eczema.

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The creamy texture locks in moisture effectively, preventing overnight moisture loss and combating the itchiness and discomfort associated with eczema. The non-greasy formula makes it comfortable to wear throughout the night, allowing eczema sufferers to wake up to softer, smoother, and more nourished skin. With consistent use, Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream helps eczema-prone individuals experience the restorative benefits of improved skin hydration.

Healing Ointment

by CeraVe

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CeraVe Healing Ointment

Enriched with hydrating ceramides and hyaluronic acid, CeraVe Healing Ointment effectively replenishes and locks in essential moisture, addressing the hallmark dryness and dehydration associated with eczema. Its non-comedogenic and non-irritating properties make it suitable for sensitive skin, reducing the risk of further irritation during sleep.

The thick, occlusive nature of the ointment creates a protective barrier, shielding skin from external irritants and allowing the healing process to occur undisturbed throughout the night. Uninterrupted rest is crucial for managing eczema symptoms, and CeraVe Healing Ointment ensures that the skin receives the intensive hydration and protection it needs.

Intensive Moisturizing Cream

by Cetaphil US

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Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

Recommended by dermatologists, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is renowned for its gentle yet effective formula, making it suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Its rich, emollient texture provides deep hydration, alleviating dryness and itchiness.

When applied before bedtime, this cream creates a protective barrier that locks in moisture, preventing overnight moisture loss and allowing skin to repair and rejuvenate naturally. The hypoallergenic and fragrance-free composition minimizes the risk of irritation, ensuring a soothing and comfortable night's sleep. With consistent use, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream contributes to a significant improvement in skin texture and comfort.

Hydro Boost Night Moisturizer
$14.49 ($8.52 / Ounce)

by Neutrogena

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02/24/2024 11:23 am GMT

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Moisturizer

Although not explicitly marketed for eczema, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Moisturizer nonetheless stands out as an excellent choice for overnight use by eczema sufferers due to its unique hydrating properties. The lightweight gel-cream formula contains hyaluronic acid, a powerful hydrating ingredient that delivers deep, long-lasting moisture to skin, which is crucial for managing dryness and preventing flare-ups.

This moisturizer's non-comedogenic, gentle formula minimizes the risk of clogged pores and irritation, making it suitable for sensitive skin. Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Night Moisturizer is designed to work while you sleep, aiding in skin repair and regeneration.

Get Serious About Managing Eczema After Dark

Achieving nighttime eczema relief is critical for all who suffer from this chronic skin condition. The right topical treatments, coupled with a carefully crafted nighttime skincare routine, can promote skin repair and hydration while you sleep. Consult a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment recommendations tailored to your specific needs. Wake up with healthier, more comfortable skin by taking a proactive approach to eczema management at night.

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