Eczema itching at night: Prevention and tips for better sleep

Eczema, or dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes patches of itchiness, inflammation, swelling, and cracked skin. When eczema flares up at night, the discomfort can make it difficult to get to sleep.

This sleep disruption is common, affecting 33.0 to 87.1 percent of adults with eczema. The condition causes difficulty sleeping in 83 percent of children with eczema, and this can significantly affect the quality of life.

In this article, we look at why eczema symptoms flare up at night and how to prevent them.

Why does eczema flare up at night?

Researchers are not sure what causes eczema, but various genetic and environmental factors may be involved.

Eczema symptoms may feel worse at night for a few reasons:

  • Due to the body’s sleep and wake cycles, a person’s temperature decreases at night, which can make the skin feel itchy.
  • If a person has moisturized during the day, the effects may have worn off by night.
  • People are more likely to scratch in their sleep, which can make itchiness worse.

People tend to wake up a few times during the night without realizing it. They may be scratching because they are too sleepy to remember to hold back. This can make the itchiness worse, which can interrupt sleep further.

Eczema can first appear during infancy, usually as a rash on the face and scalp. This can cause nighttime itchiness and discomfort.

Often, treatments for children and babies are the same as those for adults, but caregivers can take certain extra precautions to keep babies more comfortable, particularly at night.

To reduce the symptoms of eczema in babies:

  • know and avoid the triggers
  • follow a daily bathing and moisturizing routine
  • avoid or exercise caution when using antibacterial ointments, such as those that contain neomycin or bacitracin, as they can irritate the skin
  • avoid using baby wipes that contain isothiazolinones, which can trigger skin reactions
  • avoiding shampoos and other products that contain cocomidopropyl betaine


Eczema is a common, noncontagious skin condition that can cause itching, rashes, rough patches, and pain.

These symptoms frequently disappear with age. About 95 percent of children with eczema have no symptoms after 20 years.

When eczema causes itchiness, it can prevent or disrupt sleep, but bathing, moisturizing, and taking medication regularly can significantly reduce symptoms.

While eczema may never clear up completely, symptoms are usually manageable.

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