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Using the Breath to Control Eczema Itches

Using the Breath to Control Eczema Itches

One thing people with eczema actually do have a lot of control over when dealing with their rashes is their breath. Any time I’ve ever gone through a really stressful and overwhelming time, being aware of how I am breathing has been the most effective way for me to bring myself back down from anxiety and a scratch-filled rollercoaster. It grounds me back into my body in a way that allows me to make different choices and responses to the sensation of itchiness.

How focused breathing can help

Studying Holistic Health in San Francisco State University and having years of experience with Yoga, Tai Qi, and Qi Gong which all emphasized a very strong awareness of the breath and using intention to transform and redirect attention have been the building blocks of my ability to bounce back from eczema triggers. Below, I describe the process I go through that guides my reaction to itchiness in a way that prevents and lowers skin damage as much as possible. I hope that the description of this process is useful for you and will help you minimize the effects eczema has on your quality of life and quality of your skin.

The process of focused breathing

During the initial sensation of itchiness, I experience a heightened sense of anxiety which feels like the beginning of a rollercoaster; it is like the moment when you start to feel the cart that you’re in go up the incline for the first peak before you take your first gut-wrenching plunge. When I start experiencing the incline and the escalation to the edge of scratching, I take a moment to think about it and I ask myself why it is happening? This may take some time to develop enough awareness and objectiveness about in the moment, but with practice, over time it becomes second nature and an immediate response to feeling itchy.

A brief pause helps

Many times just thinking about what is making me feel itchy will take my mind off the edge enough to have me decide whether or not the reason is worth the damage. And most times it’s not, so that will be enough for me to not scratch. But if I still feeling like clawing at my skin, I will then take another deep breath in like before and continue to exhale out the sense of itchiness. So, instead of using my energy to scratch my skin I use my breath and exhalations to release the itchiness with the same kind of rhythm and pace that I would be stretching my skin with my nails.

Naps can help too

Finally as a last resort, I will lay on a comfortable surface (maybe a bed or a couch) on my belly with my arms on either side of my body and I will take a nap which naturally gets me to breathe in even more deeply as well as close my eyes and just relax for that moment. Sometimes the sense of itchiness is so overwhelming that I need to nap for at least a 30 minutes to regulate my breathing. Eventually, with my breathing being so deep and even, I find that the itchiness eventually just goes away on its own.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Debs55
    1 year ago

    Terry, do you know of any creams that will give relief to the ITCH/?”

  • Terry Alabata author
    1 year ago

    Hi Debs,

    I’m so sorry that you’re having full-body itches. I know exactly what you’re going through.

    Hope the culture offers more clarity. In the meantime, I would suggest looking at diet, lifestyle and environment for possible factors contributing to the itching. Become as vigilant and self-aware of things that improve and worsen your skin. Eventually you’ll start to see patterns. Keeping a journal/record can be helpful. I have a slightly photographic memory, so I keep all of my records in my head.

    Also start to notice what kind of rashes you have. If they’re dry, scaley and flakey, balms and thick creams with rose, calendula, sunflower oil and flaxseed oil can be helpful. I like Earthmama Angelbaby’s Bottom Balm and Province Apothecary’s Hydrating Rescue Balm for these.

    If you have very wet, oozing rashes, then products with tea tree, mint, eucalyptus, and coconut oil can be helpful. I like Tea Tree Therapy’s Antiseptic Cream for these.

    I’ve also noticed a personal connection between sugar intake and oozing rashes in my life. Might be worth looking into cutting out sugar and dairy for 2-3 weeks and see what happens?

    You’re very welcome! That’s what this community is for! Hope this helps and that you find your healing combo! <3

  • Terry Alabata author
    1 year ago

    Hi Debs55/Deb!

    Thank you for commenting! I have a few I could recommend but it depends on the source of the itch and type of rash. Where is it located? Does it feel more itchy when the weather is hot/cold? Humid/dry? Are you more itchy during certain seasons/times of the year? Are your rashes dry and scaley? Or wet and oozing?

    Off the top of my head, anything with tea tree oil tends to work well for me. But I’ve had itches for many different reasons and they all respond to different treatments/ingredients. If you’re open to sharing more about the type of itch you’re experiencing, I can give you more specific suggestions. <3

  • Debs55
    1 year ago

    I went to my dermatologist this week for the dermatitis. She took a culture sample from my back, (it was like a whitehead) and is sending that to find out for sure that it is dermatitis or something else. I itch almost any place on my body. It is worse at night, I think this may be because during the day I am busy and not constantly thinking about it. I have to force myself not to scratch. It literally makes me think I am going nuts!!!. My doctor did prescribe Triamcinolone and Vistrille. I still wake up during the night itching. Haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 2 weeks. Some nights I will take a bath with either bleach, epson’s salt, or vinegar to calm the itch. This does help to calm the itching. Thanks for letting me “bend your ear”. Unless one has this problem there is no understanding. Good luck to you, Debs55

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    1 year ago

    Debs55, I’m glad you went to the dermatologist for this and you’re getting a sample tested. Sorry that you’re feeling itchy all over, especially at night, this can be torturous. The AD community is filled with people who can relate to you and know how real the struggle can be trying to get a good night’s sleep. I do hope that the baths continue to help calm your skin. Let us know what the result of your culture sample is. Wishing you some peace and rest in the days ahead. -Sarah ( Team Member)

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