An itchy baby finds it very hard to sleep, and that will have a knock-on effect on their parents and siblings, leading to sleepless nights all round. Wet wrap treatment is a really effective, non-steroidal method of breaking the dreaded itch-scratch cycle, especially for tiny little ones who don’t know not to scratch and can get terribly upset about their itchy, uncomfortable skin.
So wet wrapping can be a great way of getting emollients to work their magic overnight, intensifying the hydrating effect and covering up itchy, broken skin so it can start to repair. But how on earth can you wrap a wriggling little baby from top to toe, not just once, but twice!?!
Well, it isn’t easy, but it is usually more than worth it!
- Start with two pairs of hands and a good deal of patience... if either of those are possible! And, this being parenting life, they may not be. But if they are, it helps to have one person doing the fiddly wrapping bits, and another to hold the baby, distract them or feed them.
- Be prepared for it to take a while, possibly an hour or more. There is no rushing the wrapping process, although tubular bandages are quicker to pop on and off than rolled gauze bandages, and using an all-in-one sleep suit as a top layer is quicker still.
- Remember that this is all about making your baby feel better! The calmer you can both be, the better. Distress is in itself inflammatory and can trigger a flare-up; not necessarily something that’s easy to manage in the moment of course, and not something to beat yourself up about, but worth remembering if you’re both getting distraught.
- Take time out between stages if you need to. Maybe you need to feed your baby, or cuddle her close for a while. Better to keep calm and stop for a pause, than rush on to finish the process and both end up in tears.
- Do it your own way. Whatever works for you is better than nothing! You might want to try dry wraps instead, if your baby loathes baths. You might want to use leggings over bandages, rather than more bandages. You might find it easier to wet wrap during the day, rather than take hours over it when baby is tired at bedtime. You don't need to stick to strict instructions, so long as you're aware not to use steroidal creams under wet wraps without medical advice.
- Make the process as fun as possible! A (bubbles-free) bath, distraction in the form of a book, a game or a special toy can all help.
- Reward yourself! Having a baby with eczema is really tough. It’s upsetting to see them in pain, and it is very hard work doing the things that need to be done, especially with a reluctant patient. Once the wraps are on and little one is calm, breathe deep and allow yourself a glass of wine or a movie rather than rushing on to do the washing up.
Skin Salvation is an ideal emollient ointment to use under wraps. It protects, moisturises and nourishes and is free from common irritants, and, most importantly, is designed so it doesn’t sting sore skin when applied!
In this series of articles about wet and dry wrapping, we’re focusing on using wraps with emollient creams, not with topical steroids. Always consult with a doctor or nurse if you’re using steroid creams as their potency may be increased when used under wet wraps and could damage the skin.
Skin Salvation balm with hemp and chamomile, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with nettle & chickweed, £19 for 200ml
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.