Eczema can be so itchy and uncomfortable, kids scratch and claw at their skin until it bleeds. Now a simple, inexpensive and drug-free therapy is helping children with the most severe cases.
Little Lucie has suffered from severe eczema since she was a baby with itching so intense she'd rub her skin raw.
When it was really bad, yeah, she'd scratch until it bled, and then you'd worry about infection, said Heather Karazim, Lucy's mother.
The family tried different doctors and different medications, including powerful steroids, without significant relief - until they found wet wrap therapy offered at National Jewish Health in Denver.
First, a soak in a lukewarm bath for about 20 minutes, then lotion or mild medicated creams are applied and covered with wet cloths with a dry layer of clothing on top. Kids stay in this cocoon-like state for two hours. The process may be repeated several times a day.
We know that as that wet wrap therapy cools and dries out, that for a lot of our patients, it has an anti-itch or an anti-pruritic effect, which is soothing to them, said Dr. Mark Boguniewicz.
Seventy-two kids in a study at National Jewish Health averaged a 70-percent reduction in symptoms. Effects lasted for at least a month
Now when it gets bad, I know what to do, and we're in a much better place, said said Heather.
Although the technique is simple, doctors don't advise doing this at home without proper training. Overdoing it may be harmful to the skin.
Wet wraps are not a cure for eczema, but can be an effective treatment for severe cases of eczema.