Rise above the urge to scratch

Break the itch/scratch cycle

If your psoriasis-related itching is causing you to scratch the affected area, you may already know that, while it may bring temporary relief, scratching can often inflame the skin further.1

This can make you feel even more stressed about your psoriasis, which itself can make the symptoms worse1. But help is at hand. The itch/scratch cycle is a recognized phenomenon among people living with psoriasis and there are a number of steps you can take to break it.

Whatever your reasons, to break the itch/scratch habit, you need to take the itch away first. Distraction techniques may help.

Find substitute behaviors

Try to become more aware of when you are scratching and what triggers your itch/scratch cycle. Keep a diary and record the times and situations when you are most likely to scratch – note whether your skin feels genuinely itchy or if it is just habit.

Whatever your reasons, to break the itch/scratch habit, you need to take the itch away first. Distraction techniques may help.

Make a note of what triggers your itching – for example, being on the telephone, watching TV – and find substitute behaviors to stop you itching. Perhaps doodling, drawing, writing or sending a text message to a friend?

Do what works for you

Start by using a diary to log how often you are scratching. You may be amazed by the results. It’s usually more than you think.

Then, the next time you feel like scratching, hold off for 10 seconds. It may take some practice but you’ll get there in the end.

Next, replace the scratching with a new behavior – for example, clenching your fist for 30 seconds. The urge to scratch usually passes within the 30 seconds. This helps to break the cycle of habitual scratching.

Finally, if the urge to itch is still there, push your finger down on the affected area.

Practice this technique every day and, in time, you may notice that you no longer feel the urge to scratch quite so often. Combined with the use of emollient creams and other treatments, this should help to reduce the itching. Then, if you can break the itch cycle, you won’t be tempted to scratch and make things worse.

[References]

  1. http://www.dermatology.org/skincare/psoriasis/psorhand.html#WHAT_MAKES, p. 1, Last accessed date: 11 Aug 2015

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