During particularly intense eczema ﬂares with severe itch or pain, wet wrap therapy can work wonders to rehydrate and calm the skin and help topical medications work better. Wet wraps are best done after bathing, moisturising and applying medication.
The main use of wet dressings is to allow greater penetration of topically applied corticosteroids or moisturizers by over-hydration of the skin. It is also soothing and cooling and acts as a barrier to scratching and skin damage.
- Wet dressings can be used 2 to 3 times a day and should be stopped once significant improvement occurs
- Wet dressings can also be used overnight when children are most prone to scratching
- Wet dressings are useful in settling a severe or acute eczema flare but are generally only needed for a few days
- Do not use wet dressings if there is infection that is not treated, as the moist occlusive environment is ideal for the infection to worsen
- If the condition worsens, or small pimples appear, contact your doctor.
Method for children & adults
- Apply creams as directed by your doctor
- Use tubular bandages from the pharmacy which can be cut to size or cotton pyjamas (alternative – long sleeve T-shirt and long pants) in warm water and squeeze as dry as possible or spin in the washing machine
- Put on damp clothing then a layer or dry clothing
- Leave on for minimum 30 minutes up to 2 hours depending on comfort level. For some sufferers it may be an overnight treatment
- Remove wet clothing
- Pat skin dry then apply a generous layer of moisturiser
As skin improves, taper off wet wrap frequency rather than stopping abruptly. Moisturisers should be applied 3-4 times a day otherwise the skin will become dry and itchy again.
- Wet dressings will dry after a few hours
- Do not leave the dressings on dry (unless your child is sleeping) as dry dressings can irritate the skin by causing it to become hot, dry and itchy
- Use a spray bottle of warm water to moisten bandages
- Crepe bandages used for wet dressings may be washed in the washing machine
- Do not wash or reuse the disposable towels
- Do not use antiseptic bath oils in the wet dressings as these may irritate and burn your child’s skin
- Cool compressing is a wet dressing for the face
- Wet disposable towels in a bowl of cool water and bath oil
- Hold the towels on to the face for 5–10 minutes
- Apply moisturiser immediately after compressing
- Cool compressing should be applied as often as needed until the itch is relieved
It is not the policy of the Eczema Association of Australasia Inc to recommend or endorse any product or treatment.
It is part of the role of the Association to provide information on a wide range of products and treatments to keep those involved with eczema as fully informed as possible as to all options available. For medical advice, consult your health professional.