The role of wet wrap therapy in treating eczema

During particularly intense eczema flares with severe itching or pain, wet wrap therapy can work wonders to rehydrate and calm skin and help topical medications work better. Professor Carol Hlela answers your most frequently asked questions about wet wrap therapy for eczema here:

What is eczema?

When people refer to eczema, they usually mean atopic dermatitis, characterized as dry, itchy skin that often appears with a red rash. “Atopic dermatitis” is the most common and chronic type of eczema. This skin condition is common in children, but adults can get it too.

Eczema comes in a few other forms, too. Each eczema type has its own set of symptoms and triggers.

The most common symptoms for all types of eczema include:

  1. dry, possibly scaly skin

  2. redness

  3. itching, which may be intense

What causes eczema?

To date, no single cause of eczema has been found. However, researchers believe a combination of genes, environmental factors, compromised skin barrier functions, and triggers are involved in most eczema types.

People with eczema tend to have an over-reactive immune system that responds by producing inflammation when triggered by a substance outside or inside the body.

Research also shows that some eczema sufferers have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating the protein filaggrin. This protein helps our bodies maintain a healthy protective barrier on the very top layer of the skin. Our bodies need filaggrin to build a healthy skin barrier; without this, moisture can easily escape, viruses and bacteria can easily enter. This is why many people with eczema generally have very dry and infection-prone skin.

Does eczema ever go away?

There is no known cure for eczema, and if left untreated, the rash will not go away. For most people, eczema is a chronic condition that requires careful avoidance of triggers to help prevent flare-ups. However, there are multiple treatments available to help reduce itching and soothe inflamed skin.

What is wet wrap therapy?

Wet wrap therapy consists of soaking the skin with moisture, pat drying the skin, application of a moisturizer, after that a topical cortisone application on the skin, then the first layer of bandages that have been soaked in bath water (damp layer), cover with the second layer of dry bandages.

What type and severity of eczema does wet wrap therapy treat?

Wet wrap therapy is a treatment option for moderate to severe eczema flares accompanied by itching or pain and widespread lesions.

How does wet wrapping work?

The purpose of wet wrap therapy is to rehydrate and calm the skin and help topical medications work better. This is done by keeping the treatment where it should be and breaking the “itch-scratch cycle”.

How long are wet wraps left on for?

Maximum, two weeks, but very often skin lesions improve before then (within days of commencing therapy), thus not needing to be kept for as long as two weeks.

What are the benefits of wet wrap therapy?

The benefits of wet wrapping include:

  1. Treats severe eczema.

  2. It breaks the “itch-scratch cycle.”

  3. Reduced redness and inflammation.

  4. Skin rehydration.

  5. Better skin healing process; helps topical medications work better.

Can wet wrap therapy be used to treat eczema on both the face and body?


Can I treat my babies eczema with wet wrap therapy?

Yes, as long as the factors described above apply, i.e. eczema is severe and widely spread.

Aside from eczema, can wet wrap therapy treat any other skin disorders?

Yes, but speak to a dermatologist about the best treatment plan for your condition.

Suffering from eczema? Click here to book a consultation with dermatologist, Professor Hlela.