Crafting, Family, Health & Wellness

Help for Little Eczema Sufferers – No-Scratch Sleeves

My son has been suffering through the worst eczema flare-up I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously, I didn’t know eczema could even look like this. I’ve seen pictures of eczema that look like hives, red rashes, extremely dry and even very flaky skin, but not this. This is all of those and more. And I know the worst of it is caused by the fact that a three-year-old sweetie doesn’t fully understand the damage his scratching causes. And don’t get me wrong – we still love our eczema cream – and we have also taken the obvious steps of keeping his nails trimmed and wearing covering clothing – but since eczema isn’t merely a skin issue, we knew we had to take other steps.

Last Saturday, I couldn’t take it anymore. I saw his sweet face all scabbed up when he woke up (we cover him when he sleeps – footy pajamas are great – but his face is still exposed, so it gets the brunt of the scratching) and I couldn’t just lotion him and wait out his healing. I searched “eczema scratch prevention” online and found something I had never thought of before – scratch clothing!

There appeared to be two products on the market. One is called ScratchSleeves, and it’s made in the UK and shipped here. For about $23 (shipped) I can have my very own cardigan with mittens that my son would wear under his clothing. His hands would be completely covered, so any scratching would at least be minimally successful. The other was a similar product that’s made in the US and sells for about $25. It was the same basic premise, but the hands on these were open at the ends, and I knew my little guy would figure that out in no time.

Being that I can’t just learn about a product like and then buy it, the wheels in my head began turning and I decided I needed to see if there was a way I could make this myself. I thought up designs, what would be the most effective material to use, etc. – and then I remembered that I’m 9 months pregnant and we just moved into a new house, so all my sewing stuff is still in boxes. After a trip to the thrift store and finding nothing inspiring, I went to Walmart and found a set of 3 pairs of tights for about $3.97 – $1.33/pair!

My original thought was a body suit that would cover my boy from head to toe, including his hands. Then I talked to my brilliant husband and we decided that the most important factor was keeping his hands covered. Before bed that night, I grabbed one set of tights, snipped a small line down the middle, and put them on my boy. Perfect.

No Scratch Sleeves
My boy rocking his red no-scratch sleeves with his Spiderman t-shirt

Now, I realize that when most people think of eczema, something like this seems rather extreme. If that’s you, then I’m sorry but you haven’t seen eczema like I’ve seen. But if you’ve ever woken up and dreaded looking at your child for fear of what they’ve done to themselves overnight this time… if you’ve ever spent half your car trip explaining to your sweet child that it really is important that they don’t scratch… if you’ve ever dressed your little one in clothes that were maybe a little too warm for the weather in hopes that an extra layer would prevent him from hurting himself – then you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and you might just want to make some for your sweetheart. Well, thankfully, it’s super duper easy!

What you need:
-Tights, about the same size as your child. (My son is a 3T and we bought 2T-4T sized tights)
-Scissors

Unroll the tights.

Tights Find the center seam of the tights. Cut about 3 inches (depending on how broad your child’s shoulders are, this may vary.)
Cut Tights Cut Done

Put on the way you would put on a sweater. I find it easiest to roll up the tights to the end onto my thumbs (the same way I would put tights or socks on myself) and have him stick his hand directly into the end. Bring the back around, and do the same on the other side. Pull the front to a comfortable position.

Sleeves Front Sleeves Back

That’s it! Now put a shirt on and you’re ready to go!

Sleeves in PJs
Here he is in the white set with his PJs! I find it fun/easy to make it match his outfits.

My son has been wearing these for about a week and we’ve had minimal problems with them. He still scratches (we’re making diet changes and hoping that helps), but he isn’t breaking the skin anywhere near as easily as he used to. He can function well in them – he’s doing a puzzle as I type, and he can eat, color, and play without trouble.

To wash them, I put them all in a pillowcase, tied it shut, and put them in the washer on delicate. If you want to get fancy, you could get a lingerie bag but we didn’t have one on hand and I was afraid the zipper would cause snags. Some pairs got a little pilly, but a lint shaver would solve that problem. (I love mine, but it’s still in a box somewhere!)

So, that’s one step we’ve taken to help my son’s skin heal. We’re still putting his homemade eczema cream on every day, but this has made the battlefield more level, for sure.

If you make some, I’d love to see pictures!

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10 thoughts on “Help for Little Eczema Sufferers – No-Scratch Sleeves”

  1. If your son is red all over, his rash may be CAUSED by the steroid creams. Over time, the body gets used to the steroids and needs more and more, causing the blood vessels to dilate and the skin to look red.

    If you think this may be the problem, there is a charity called ITSAN that helps many people in this situation. Why not visit their site and look at the FAQ? They also have a really good forum with parents on hand to discuss skin problems if you want a chat with someone who understands.

    1. Hi, Louise! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!
      The eczema cream we have been using is a homemade one with coconut oil and essential oils. It’s helped moisturize his skin better than anything we’ve used! We stopped using steroid creams when we started using it. However, I looked into the site you posted yesterday when someone else heard just HOW bad his skin was, and we are pretty convinced that withdrawal is what we’re dealing with! It explains everything he’s experiencing from the itch that goes way more than skin deep, to the rash, to the chills and sudden strange behavior. Thank you for helping spread the word that such a thing exists! We never would have used those creams if we had known THIS was even a remote possibility. But now we know, thanks to people like you getting it out there! These sleeves have helped stop my son from tearing his skin up quite so badly, and the healing process is going much more smoothly than before we began using them. If you know anyone who can benefit from something like this – please let them know!
      Thanks again for your comment!

      1. I was going to say the same thing about ITSAN and topical steroid withdrawal.. our precious son is in it as well.. 8 months steroid free.. Been a long road but we are well on our way.. Prayers for your family! I have also recently been researching oils and just this week have purchased some from Young Living.. Hope they help us with the skin infections we have been battling through the withdrawal..
        ❤ Psalm 121

  2. Hi! My 2 year old is going through topical steriod withdrawal and someone in the Facebook support group shared this link with me. Thank you so much, this is a great solution for little itchers 🙂

  3. hi. my son is the same. he has severe eczema attack and now developed the habit of scratching to make himself sleep. we use scratchsleeves at night which was really amazing. my boy is heavily dairy allergic. whenever he’s accidentally given food with dairy, we would bathe him to cool him down.which helps. another thing that we think helps is using an antibacterial soap. e.g. protex. we saw his skin got better using that and maybe because it helps wound cleanedup well.

    good luck with your eczema treatment plan.
    I know this is very challenging as I’ve gone on this same road. all the best

  4. I have tried both scratch sleeves and scratch me not. I love Scratchmenot.com ‘s products … organic cotton and silk outer layer. My baby sleeps so soundly now. And they last forever. Highly recommended!

    1. Hi, Angel! I used regular tights from the store – I think they are nylon? Some parents have said their children’s skin is irritated by it, but my son’s seemed to thrive on the breathability of it. I have also sewn my own out of outdated cotton t-shirts (my own), which works quite well, too! Especially at night when they tend to get more scratchy.

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