WASHINGTON (NBC News) – Little Lucie Karazim has suffered from severe eczema since she was a baby. At times the itching was so intense she’d rub her hands and face raw.
“When it was really bad, she’d scratch until it bled, and then you’d worry about infection,” says mother Heather Karazim.
The Karazim family tried different doctors and different medications, including powerful steroids, without significant relief until they found “wet wrap therapy” offered at National Jewish Health in Denver.
The kids soak in a lukewarm bath for about 20 minutes, then doctors apply lotion or mild medicated creams to wet skin, wrap them in wet cloth, then add a dry layer of clothing.
The kids stay in this cocoon-like state for two hours. Some have to repeat the process several times a day.
“We know that as that wet wrap therapy cools and dries out, that for a lot of our patients, it has an anti-itch or an anti-pruritic effect which is soothing to them,” says Dr. Mark Boguniewicz.
Seventy two kids in a study at National Jewish Health averaged a 70 percent reduction in symptoms. The effects lasted for at least a month.
“Now when it gets bad, I know what to do, and we’re in a much better place,” Heather Karazim says.
Wet wraps are not a cure for eczema, but for some a soothing solution.
Although the technique is simple, doctors don’t advise doing this at home without proper training because over-doing it may be harmful to the skin.