Wet Wrap Therapy: Step by Step Guide

Atopic dermatitis (eczema), also known as atopic eczema, is a common, chronic skin condition that causes inflamed skin that may crack, ooze, and is intensely itchy. Treatment of atopic dermatitis usually involves medications that are applied to the affected areas of skin. Wet-wrap therapy is a technique used in the treatment of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in which a wet dressing is placed over the medicated skin.

How do wet wraps work?

Wet-wrap dressings create a moist, physical barrier that has several benefits, including:

  • Cooling the skin
  • Increasing moisturization and softening of skin, which makes medicine penetrate better
  • Serving as a physical barrier against scratching

Some wet wraps are created using moistened gauze, cotton, or bandages. Another technique involves using wet pajamas as the physical barrier. While it may sound strange at first, wet pajamas can actually be an effective wet-wrap dressing.

How do I do wet wrap therapy?

  1. After a lukewarm bath, apply the medication (like a topical corticosteroid) to affected areas of skin
  2. Apply moisturizer to all of the skin to increase the skin’s hydration and reduce itching
  3. Soak a pair of form-fitting pajamas in warm, clean water and wring out excess water (the pajamas should be wet but not dripping)
  4. Put on the wet pajamas so that they are covering the treated areas of skin
  5. On top of the wet pajamas, put on a dry pair of pajamas or other form-fitting clothes, preferably made of cotton
  6. Periodically (ideally every 2 hours), remoisten the wet pajamas using a spray bottle of warm, clean water

The wet pajamas should be left in place for at least 12 hours, typically overnight. The wet-wrap pajamas should be done once daily for 1 week, then repeated once weekly as needed. Wet-wrap therapy can be especially helpful during times of flares of eczema, when symptoms return or worsen. Improvement in symptoms with wet-wrap therapy usually occurs within the first week of using the therapy.

What products or medications should I use?

Clinical studies have found that wet-wrap therapy with topical corticosteroids is more effective than the topical corticosteroids alone, and the use of wet-wrap therapy provides a measurable improvement in the amount of water lost through the skin, which is a common occurrence in the skin that is affected by eczema.

Does it work?

Wet-wrap therapy is effective in treating flares in both children and adults with atopic dermatitis. Just one week of wet-wrap pajamas can make a significant improvement in the severity of symptoms, including itch, and a person’s overall well-being.

For additional information on wet-wrap therapy, talk to your dermatologist or nurse who can provide detailed, personalized advice for you or your child.

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