Mindfulness for Atopic Dermatitis
Last updated: September 2018
I feel like this should be written in a softer smoother font with gentle curves. That's because when we think about scratching, harsh images may come to mind. I can picture fingernails clawing at dry itching skin. It’s not a comfortable thing to do – scratch at a place that is dry, irritated, or sore. After years of living with atopic dermatitis, scratching could even become a habit. Take notice your own scratching routines. You may want to consider how you attend to the sensation that accompanies skin that is irritated from allergens, illness, or a skin disorder.
Might I suggest mindfully scratching? With today’s movement toward being aware, it is easier to talk about how we feel, or are reacting to something. Perhaps your quiet time can transfer over to how you respond to the urge to itch.
There are many ways of scratching. It may be a gentle rub with your fingertip. It could be pressing or pinching your skin to bring blood flow. Anything to interrupt the current sensation you are experiencing now can be helpful.
It could be a light graze back and forth with a soft cloth soaked in warm water. Done slowly while allowing the water to run off may create a relaxing sensation.
A cold moist pack may bring a shockingly cool awareness, which can change up your brain’s sensory signal and cancel out the itching momentarily.
Managing itching can include the use of a specific tool such as a soft bristle brush, skin brush, or bamboo back scratcher.
Softly patting moisturizer, oil, or medications on the skin can also be soothing. I've done this hundreds of times with my granddaughter. Occasionally, I hum or sing quietly. Many times I play soft flute music or nature sounds.
Mindfulness always includes the breath. Getting in a comfortable position is first. You may be sitting upright in a chair with good support and both feet on the floor. Lying down in a restful place can bring on cozy and relaxing feelings too. Start by taking a deep breath in and holding it for as long as possible. Your first out breath will be forced out quickly through your nose when your lungs get tired.
Next, start to count. Breathe in through your nose and count slowly and silently 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4. Then breathe out through your nose slowly 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Be sure that you inhale fully, feeling your shoulders rise. After you hold, release your breath very slow and empty out all the way.
After counting your breath for a few rounds, you will begin to relax. If you like, you can add hand movement. Try moving your fingertips softly on the irritated or itching skin. Notice your breath moving in and out as your heart rises and falls. Keep up the pattern of breathing while your fingers trace circles on your skin.
Finding a rhythm with your breath will help your body to relax. It can bring a peaceful feeling over your mind. You will find yourself feeling calmer.
When we are dealing with inflammation or tender skin issues, it can help to try and be more aware of how we are feeling. Letting serene thoughts move through your mind can help the body to relax – in spite of the itching. Try this the next time the urge to itch comes up.
What type of infection do you deal with most often?