The Itch Scratch Cycle
Every evening I return home from work I know exactly how my evening will go. I come through the door at around 7 pm, take my coat off, kick my shoes off, cuss at the brown envelopes on the mat and go for a wee. Then I get into my trackie bottoms.
Let the itching games begin...
Then, like clockwork, the scratching begins. I sit in front of the tv and subconsciously, start itching the backs of my knees until I break the skin and they bleed. Then I move onto my arms and wrists. From there to my neck, face, and eyes.
Itch is the most difficult eczema symptom to manage.
I’ve tried a million times to break the cycle but it always gets the better of me. Why does this happen every night? I’m not totally sure. But it does happen every night. Without fail. I feel like the character Bill Murray portrays in the 1993 film, Groundhog Day. It’s an absolute fu*king nightmare! I feel like smashing my head through the wall. It’s a combination of feelings; utter frustration, total relief, exhaustingly painful, and immense boredom.
One of the reasons why the scratch cycle might happen is that I spend the whole day holding back - trying to control my itching. Sometimes I’m successful at doing this. Other times not so successful. So, by the end of the day, it’s like I’ve been tortured all day by being tied up unable to scratch the itch. Then when I get home it’s like I’ve been untied and I go completely nuts!
Another potential reason why this might happen every night is that it could be a build-up of stress. I don’t feel stressed at work but just because you don’t feel it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there. I teach people to drive in a very busy area. It’s a job that can be mentally draining especially if you’re teaching someone parallel parking for the nine-hundredth and seventy-sixth time that day. I don’t sound very patient, do I? I am patient, I really am, but I have this impatient voice in my head that occasionally lets it rip!
Anyway, the build-up of stress must be a contributing factor in why the itch-scratch cycle occurs.
I have tried coming in and getting the dinner on and busying myself with other chores but it never works. I either end up itching as I’m doing the cooking or changing my bed linen or I have an itching fit later on in the evening.
A possible solution
Just a week ago I decided to take an antihistamine about an hour before I finished work. The results were encouraging. I still had had my usual itch scratch cycle but there were two noticeable differences:
- The itching didn’t last long at all, probably 1-2 mins
- The damage to my skin was minimal
Fingers crossed this could be a possible solution to this problem but, as with all these things where AD is concerned, I feel I need two or three possible solutions to make me feel confident I have full control of the situation. If anyone has any more ideas I’m all ears.
Life with atopic dermatitis can be frustrating. Will you help others understand by taking our survey (US only)?
Join the conversation