Wet wraps for atopic dermatitis at the Mayo Clinic

In a follow-up post to September’s post on wet wraps, I thought we would review one of the articles from the Mayo Clinic on the use of wet wraps in pediatric patients with bad atopic dermatitis.

The Mayo Clinic has had a tradition of using wet wrap therapy for a multitude of skin conditions including atopic dermatitis.  In their paper in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD), the authors reviewed their medical charts as it pertained to the use of wet wrap therapy with steroids over a period of 30 years and in examining 218 patients.  Pediatric patients with severe atopic dermatitis were admitted to the Mayo Clinic where they received wet wrap therapy.  Patient were treated with topical steroids and moisturizer which were covered with wet wraps (with either water or vinegar soaks) which were then covered with dry wrappings and a warm blanket.  They had these applied 5-8 times a day, and had dressings removed every 3 hours for dressing changes (and so that the child could walk around, urinate, etc).  A number of these patients also did get oral antibiotics for skin infection over the eczema.  The authors found that many of their patients had good results. For instance, 45% were deemed to have 75-100% improvement.

This study highlights that wet wraps with topical steroids is an important potential therapy to consider. While there are limitations to the study design, it is worth educating patients, their families, and other providers about this therapy.

Wet Wraps for Eczema

Continuing on the theme of eczema after the wonderful guest post by Marcie’s Mom, I thought we could talk about wet wraps in more detail.

Wet wraps have been shown in research studies to be quite effective in helping to treat and prevent eczema and is a remedy that can be easily done at home.  And it’s not expensive!  So what does it entail?

1) The skin must be moistened and hydrated. And by moistened, I mean in a bathtub ideally.  After stepping out of the bath (or shower if you don’t have a tub), pat the skin dry. Avoid rubbing.

2) Apply a thick moisturizer or topical medications as instructed by your physician.

3) Prepare a set of damp cotton pajamas by soaking it in a tub of lukewarm water and then wringing dry.  If you want to get fancy, you can buy special pajamas or wraps for this purpose.  Put on the pair of pajamas — it may be more comfortable to have the seams facing outward.

4) You can wear a set of dry pajamas on top.

Some people like having waterproof bedding just in case there is some dampness that seeps through.