Does Eczema Go Away If You Stop Itching?

Have you ever wondered if eczema can actually go away if you resist the urge to scratch? Eczema is a common skin condition that can cause redness, itchiness, and inflammation. Many people find temporary relief from scratching, but does that actually make the condition worse in the long run? In this article, we will explore the possibility of eczema disappearing if you resist the urge to itch and uncover what might help alleviate its symptoms. So, put down those itchy fingers and let’s find out if there’s light at the end of the eczema tunnel!

Understanding Eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation, redness, and extreme itching. It affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. Understanding the different aspects of eczema, including its types and causes, can help you manage this condition effectively.

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin disorder that causes the skin to become dry, itchy, and inflamed. While the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema often runs in families and is associated with other allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever.

Types of Eczema

There are several types of eczema, each with its unique characteristics:

  1. Atopic Dermatitis: The most common type of eczema, usually starting in childhood and persisting into adulthood. It is often associated with a family history of allergies.

  2. Contact Dermatitis: This type is caused by direct contact with irritants or allergens, such as certain metals, detergents, or cosmetics. It can develop within minutes or hours of exposure.

  3. Nummular Eczema: This type presents as coin-shaped patches of irritated skin, often occurring on the arms and legs. It may be triggered by dry skin, irritants, or stress.

  4. Dyshidrotic Eczema: This form is characterized by small blisters that develop on the hands and feet. It is more common in women and can be triggered by stress or exposure to certain substances.

  5. Stasis Dermatitis: Typically seen in older adults with circulation problems, stasis dermatitis occurs in the lower legs and is associated with fluid build-up and poor blood flow.

Cause of Eczema

The exact cause of eczema is still not fully understood, but researchers believe it is a result of the interplay between genetic and environmental factors. People with eczema often have a malfunctioning immune system that responds excessively to certain triggers, leading to inflammation and other symptoms. Environmental factors such as allergens, irritants, temperature changes, and stress can also exacerbate eczema symptoms.

Effects of Itching on Eczema

The intense itching experienced by individuals with eczema can have various detrimental effects on the skin and overall condition. Understanding these effects is crucial for managing eczema effectively.

Scratching and Skin Damage

When you scratch your itchy skin, it provides temporary relief but can lead to skin damage. Continuous scratching can break the skin’s protective barrier, causing it to become more vulnerable to infection and further irritation. Scratching can also result in wounds, bleeding, and scarring, which can worsen the appearance of eczema.

Increased Inflammation and Irritation

The act of scratching can further aggravate the inflammation and irritation associated with eczema. It triggers the release of certain chemicals that promote inflammation, leading to redness, swelling, and increased itching. This vicious cycle of scratching and inflammation can make the eczema symptoms even more severe.

Intensification of Itchiness

Paradoxically, scratching an itchy area can actually intensify the itch. When you scratch, nerve fibers in your skin are stimulated, causing more itching sensations. This can create an unbearable urge to scratch, making it difficult to break the itch-scratch cycle.

The Itch-Scratch Cycle

The itch-scratch cycle is a common phenomenon experienced by individuals with eczema. Understanding this cycle is essential for effectively managing eczema symptoms.

What is the Itch-Scratch Cycle?

The itch-scratch cycle refers to the continuous loop in which itching leads to scratching and scratching worsens the itch. It starts with an itch, which prompts you to scratch. Scratching provides temporary relief, but it damages the skin and triggers inflammation, leading to more itching. This cycle can become self-perpetuating and difficult to break without proper intervention.

Role of Itching in Eczema

Itching is a hallmark symptom of eczema and plays a significant role in the development and progression of the condition. Itchy skin is often the first symptom experienced during an eczema flare-up. Scratching arises as a natural response to relieve the itch, but it only provides temporary relief and can exacerbate the underlying inflammation.

Impact of Continuous Scratching on Eczema

Continuously scratching eczema-affected skin can have several negative consequences. It can damage the skin’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to infections and further irritation. Additionally, scratching can intensify the itch, leading to an increased urge to scratch, creating a vicious cycle that perpetuates the condition. Breaking this cycle is essential to effectively manage and improve eczema symptoms.

Does Eczema Go Away By Itself?

Whether eczema will go away on its own without treatment depends on various factors. While it is possible for some individuals to experience periods of remission, eczema usually requires proper management and treatment for long-term control.

How Long Can Eczema Last Without Treatment?

Eczema flare-ups can last for varying durations based on the individual. Some may experience short-lived bouts of eczema, while others may struggle with chronic or recurrent symptoms. Without proper treatment, eczema flare-ups can persist for weeks, months, or even longer, causing significant discomfort and distress.

Factors Affecting Eczema Duration

Several factors can influence the duration of eczema flare-ups and how long they last without treatment. These include the severity of the condition, the presence of underlying triggers or allergens, lifestyle factors, and genetic predisposition. Managing these factors is crucial for minimizing the duration and frequency of eczema flare-ups.

Self-Healing and Eczema Remission

While eczema itself is a chronic condition, many individuals experience periods of remission where symptoms improve or disappear entirely. These remission periods can occur spontaneously or as a result of effective management and treatment. While eczema may not fully go away on its own, implementing proper strategies and interventions can significantly reduce symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

The Importance of Managing Itching

Managing itching is a vital aspect of eczema care. By addressing itching effectively, you can prevent further damage to the skin, reduce inflammation, and improve your overall well-being.

Controlling Itchiness

Various strategies can help control itchiness associated with eczema. These include avoiding triggers and irritants, practicing good skincare, using appropriate moisturizers, and implementing stress-reduction techniques. Identifying your personal triggers and finding suitable methods to manage them can significantly reduce itching sensations.

Preventing Skin Damage

Resisting the urge to scratch is crucial for preventing skin damage. Keeping your nails short can diminish the intensity of scratching and reduce the risk of breaking the skin. Additionally, wearing gloves or soft clothing can act as a physical barrier, preventing direct contact between the skin and nails.

Reducing Inflammation

Reducing inflammation is an essential part of managing eczema and alleviating itching. Topical treatments such as corticosteroid creams or ointments, as well as non-steroidal options like calcineurin inhibitors, can effectively reduce inflammation and calm the skin. These medications should be used under medical supervision to achieve optimal results.

Improving Quality of Life

Managing itching not only helps alleviate physical discomfort but also improves your overall quality of life. By reducing itching and its associated symptoms, you can experience better sleep, enhanced daily functioning, improved self-esteem, and reduced psychological distress. By effectively managing itching, you can regain control over your eczema and enjoy a more fulfilling life.

Treatment Options for Eczema

Various treatment options are available for eczema, aiming to reduce inflammation, relieve symptoms, and improve skin health. Treatment plans may vary depending on the severity and individual needs.

Topical Steroids

Topical steroids are widely used in the treatment of eczema. They work by reducing inflammation, relieving itching, and helping the skin heal. There are different strengths of topical steroids available, and their usage should be guided by a healthcare professional based on the severity and location of the eczema.


Using moisturizers is a key component of eczema management. Regular application of moisturizers helps retain moisture, soothe the skin, and prevent dryness and itching. Opting for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizers can help minimize irritation.


Oral antihistamines can provide relief from itching and help reduce allergic reactions associated with eczema. They work by blocking histamine receptors, which are responsible for causing itching and other allergic symptoms. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended before starting antihistamine treatment.


Phototherapy, or light therapy, involves exposing the affected skin to controlled amounts of ultraviolet light. This treatment can help reduce inflammation, improve skin texture, and alleviate itching. Phototherapy is typically administered under medical supervision and may require multiple sessions.


In severe cases of eczema that do not respond to other treatments, immunosuppressant medications may be prescribed. These medications work by suppressing the immune system, thereby reducing inflammation and relieving eczema symptoms. Due to their potential side effects, these medications are typically used as a last resort and require close monitoring.

Biologic Medications

Biologic medications, also known as targeted therapies, are a newer class of drugs used to treat moderate to severe eczema. They specifically target certain components of the immune system that play a role in eczema, providing targeted relief and reducing inflammation. Biologics are administered under medical supervision and require regular monitoring.

Medical Interventions to Stop Itching

In some cases, medical interventions may be necessary to stop itching associated with eczema. These interventions aim to provide immediate relief and address underlying factors contributing to itching.

Prescription Topical Medications

Prescription-strength topical medications, such as corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors, may be prescribed to alleviate itching and reduce inflammation. These medications are stronger than over-the-counter options and should be used under medical supervision.

Oral Medications

Oral medications like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants may be prescribed for severe cases of eczema to help control itching and reduce inflammation. These medications are typically used for short periods due to potential side effects and require close monitoring by a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can help manage itching associated with eczema. This may include identifying and avoiding triggers or allergens, maintaining good skincare practices, practicing stress-reduction techniques, and optimizing overall health through proper nutrition and exercise.

Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

For individuals with eczema triggered by allergens, allergy testing may be recommended to identify the specific substances causing the allergic reaction. Subsequent immunotherapy, such as allergy shots or sublingual drops, can help desensitize the immune system and reduce eczema symptoms.

Natural Remedies to Relieve Itching

In addition to medical interventions, several natural remedies can provide relief from itching and soothe eczema-prone skin. While these remedies may not work for everyone, they are generally safe and can be used as complementary approaches to conventional treatment.

Applying Cold Compresses

Cool or cold compresses can help alleviate itching by numbing the skin and reducing inflammation. Applying a cold compress to the affected area for a few minutes can provide temporary relief from itching.

Keeping the Skin Moist

Regular moisturizing is essential for managing itching and preventing dryness. Opt for natural moisturizers that are free from fragrances and other potential irritants. Applying moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering helps lock in moisture.

Using Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths are a popular natural remedy for soothing itchy skin. Colloidal oatmeal contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties. Adding oatmeal to your bathwater can provide relief from itching and promote healing.

Avoiding Irritants and Allergens

Identifying and avoiding irritants or allergens that trigger eczema flare-ups is crucial for managing itching. Common triggers include certain fabrics, soaps, detergents, and allergens like dust mites or pet dander. Wear breathable fabrics and choose hypoallergenic products to minimize irritation.

Using Natural Oils and Essential Oils

Certain natural oils, such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil, can help moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation, and provide relief from itching. Essential oils like lavender or chamomile may also possess soothing properties when diluted and applied topically. However, it is important to test these oils on a small patch of skin for any potential allergic reactions.

Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements, such as evening primrose oil, borage oil, or turmeric, have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate eczema symptoms, including itching. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your regimen.

Basic Itch Management Techniques

In addition to medical interventions and natural remedies, there are some basic itch management techniques that can provide temporary relief from itching and prevent further skin damage.

Keeping Nails Short

Maintaining short nails can reduce the intensity of scratching and minimize the risk of breaking the skin. Regularly trimming your nails and filing any rough edges can help prevent skin damage and infection.

Wearing Gloves or Clothing to Prevent Direct Contact

If itching is particularly intense, wearing gloves or soft clothing over the affected area can act as a physical barrier. This can reduce the urge to scratch and prevent direct contact between the nails and the skin. Opt for loose-fitting, breathable fabrics to avoid irritation.

Engaging in Relaxation Techniques

Stress can exacerbate itching and trigger eczema flare-ups. Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being. Managing stress can have a positive impact on eczema symptoms, including itching.

Distracting Activities

When itching becomes unbearable, engaging in distracting activities can help divert your attention and reduce the urge to scratch. Activities like reading a book, listening to music, or engaging in a hobby can shift your focus away from itching and promote relaxation.


Addressing itchiness associated with eczema is crucial for managing the condition effectively and improving your quality of life. The itch-scratch cycle can worsen eczema symptoms and lead to further skin damage and inflammation. While eczema may not go away on its own, proper management, including medical interventions, natural remedies, and basic itch management techniques, can help control itching, reduce inflammation, and provide relief. Seeking professional help and a combination of treatment approaches tailored to your individual needs is essential for optimal eczema management. With effective management strategies and proper care, you can regain control over your eczema and enjoy a better quality of life.