Originally Published: December 28, 2017
Updated: August 22, 2018
What Is Wet Wrapping?
Wet wrapping is a fairly simple and common atopic dermatitis therapy that can be incredibly effective for short-term anti-inflammatory treatment for moderate to severe eczema pain and to calm irritated skin and provide itch relief. Studies have also shown that wet wrapping is an effective eczema therapy improves the skin’s ability to retain water. Dry, red, inflamed skin rashes is something atopic dermatitis sufferers struggle with. Many experience dramatic results for those who suffer from moderate to severe eczema after only one session of wet wrapping. Always consult your physician or dermatologist health care professional before starting a wet wrap treatment or any other treatment to make sure it is best suited for the patient’s needs.
The goal of wet wrapping is simple – maintain a clean, damp fabric next to the irritated skin to help soothe and cool the skin by keeping it moist, thereby helping to reduce the itchiness associated with many common skin sensitivities like atopic dermatitis/eczema. It is commonly recommended to add a second dry clothing layer over the wet wrap to help keep bedding dry and the patient in a comfortable temperature state.
There’s no doubt that moderate to severe eczema is a difficult condition to manage and very disruptive to the quality of life of not only the person suffering from eczema but often the entire family. Unfortunately, if you have a child struggling with atopic dermatitis, you’re often stuck treating the symptoms and that’s about it. Many parents have been seeing positive results with wet wrap therapy for eczema. Used primarily for severe eczema, wet wraps help keep skin moist and improve the effectiveness of moisturizers. The best-wet wrap bandages are made from functionalized fabrics that provide a cooling anti-itch effect. The National Eczema Association does a great job explaining this treatment. When your child experiences an intense flare-up that involves severe itch or pain, wet wraps for eczema work to rehydrate and calm the skin. It also helps topical medications work better.
Keep in mind that the eczema pajama wraps can be bought or made from current articles of clothing. Although organic cotton is commonly recommended as an inexpensive fabric for wet wrapping treatments we do not recommend cotton as it gets soggy, gets everything it comes in contact with wet, and sags out of shape. The dermatologists agree that the best-wet wrap fabric is TEWLTect® skin smart fabric made from a blend of TENCEL™ fiber that absorbs 50% of its weight in water without feeling wet. Soothems eczema sleepwear is made from a special TENCEL™ fiber with Chitosan embedded inside the fibers to prevent the spread of infection by controlling bacteria growth and helps speed healing. TEWLTect® skin smart fabric is also infused with zinc oxide a highly effective antiseptic and anti-inflammatory compound irritated skin that helps preserve skin moisture and control the urge to scratch. The zinc oxide also kills bacteria.
According to Dr. Peter Lio, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist, and a member of the National Eczema Association Scientific Advisory Committee the TEWLTect® fabric used to make Soothems eczema clothing is highly effective at controlling bacteria on the skin of atopic dermatitis patients and helps calm itching, inflammation and works great for wet wrapping. The overall benefits are incredible and even help reduce patient stress and improve sleep patterns.
Soak the Soothems eczema clothing in lukewarm water and apply to the affected skin on your child. It’s important to know that eczema wet wraps are best done in the evening after bathing, moisturizing and applying medication (more on this process in a bit). Use Soothems eczema pajamas or the onesie designed for eczema babies under regular sleepwear as an occlusive barrier next to eczema-affected skin. Re-wet or take the wraps off once they start to dry out.
Here are step-by-step wet wrap therapy tips for eczema from the National Eczema Association:
- Wash your Soothems® eczema sleepwear according to care instructions prior to use.
- Bathe and pat skin dry before applying doctor recommended eczema creams, lotion, and emollients, to affected areas as directed by a healthcare professional.
- For comfort keep ambient room temperature between 68oF/20oC - 78oF/25oC when using Soothems for wet wrapping therapy.
- Soak the Soothems eczema sleep shirt in warm water. Squeeze out excess water; you want garment damp, not soaking wet.
- Soothems sleepwear should fit snugly, but comfortable.
- Cover the affected areas with the warm, damp Soothems garment.
- Then cover the damp Soothems wet wrap garment with a dry layer of Soothems or regular sleepwear.
- Depending on the dry over the garment’s design, it will generally be more comfortable to wear a slightly larger size for the second layer.
- Discontinue use of wet wrap therapy and Soothems eczema pajamas and contact a qualified healthcare professional at the first signs of irritation, rash or discomfort.
- If re-wetting is necessary during treatment, use a gentle spray bottle with clean, warm water to dampen the eczema treatment fabric or completely remove garment and re-soak in warm water, removing excess water before redressing.
- Consult a healthcare professional regarding the length of a proper wet wrap treatment for your child.
Advantages of Wet Wrap Therapy for Eczema
Let’s see if this sounds familiar. Your child’s itch from eczema is so bad that they scratch until it bleeds. Doing so only makes the conditions worse. Known as the “itch-scratch cycle,” this is something that many children struggle with. They are often distracted by daily activities and aren’t as focused on the itch until it’s time for bed. In a domino effect, the itch becomes so intense that your son or daughter can’t sleep. Be aware that sleep pattern disruption leads to additional stress, which intensifies those dreaded flare-ups. Eventually, eczema negatively impacts the entire family. Rather than enjoying a good night’s sleep, you’re doing what you can to comfort a sleep-deprived child.
So why do we bring this up? Well, recent studies show that wet wraps for eczema improve eczema symptoms by about 70 percent. Not only does the treatment improve overall wellness, but it also limits infection. Imagine being able to take your child off powerful prescription medications and steroids that have nasty side effects. That’s a possibility with wet wrap therapy! Experts agree that when it comes to eczema, keeping the skin barrier healthy and intact is essential. Once that happens, treating the condition with antibiotics can be explored as an option.
Here’s the thing though about wet wrap therapy for eczema: You can’t just do it once and expect immediate results. This is a long-term strategy that, when done properly and consistently, should lead to positive results.
Before jumping into wet wrap therapy, make sure that you are implementing the correct bathing and moisturizing techniques for your child. Here some things to consider:
- Bathe your son or daughter in warm (not hot) water.
- Limit their time in the bath to 10 minutes at the most.
- Use cleanser sparingly and make sure it’s mild and fragrance-free.
- Gently pat your child’s skin partially dry after they get out of the tub.
- Apply moisturizer on top of the medicine and to the rest of your child’s skin.
- When selecting a moisturizer, opt for a thick cream or ointment.
- Remember that son children do better with fragrance-free products, so you may want to think about petroleum jelly as an inexpensive, fragrance-free product that does well.
- Apply the moisturizer of your choice at least twice a day to help prevent dryness, limit cracking, and easing overall discomfort.
Be sure to consult a healthcare professional to decide if wet wrapping therapy would be beneficial for your child prior to starting this treatment. It should only be done under the advice and instructions of a healthcare professional.
Soothems eczema clothing can go over the top of your child’s wraps with ease. Made from TEWLTect smart fabric, it’s easy to see the difference in our therapeutic clothing for eczema. Soothems has a wide variety of eczema bottoms, eczema sleepwear, eczema suits, and eczema sleeves.
Dr. Peter Lio is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the director of the Northwestern University Eczema Care and Education Center. His clinical practice is at Dermatology & Aesthetics of Wicker Park, in Chicago.