How To Stop Your Child Scratching: from the sensible to the ridiculous

Last night I was kept awake as my 7 year old lay next to me in bed scratching, yes it appears that even at 7 years old she is still an occasional bed invader. This time it was because she'd had a bad dream and she felt sick. For well over an hour she kept me awake and in that time I had to stop her scratching countless times. The eczema on her legs has had another flare up (although fortunately not a bad one) and it affects her most at night. It doesn’t matter whether your child is scratching because of eczema, psoriasis or just dry skin, simply telling them to stop won’t make a difference. As I eventually drifted off to sleep I started to think of all the ways you can get stop children scratching and as the dreams took over the ideas started to become a little less sensible.

A child snuggled up in bed

10 ways to stop your child scratching their dry and itchy skin

Remove the cause

I don’t know whether the latest flare up for my daughter was due to M having too much dairy (she has a mild intolerance) or due to the bath bombs someone gave her for her birthday, but I will be encouraging her to have a break from milk and hiding the rest of the bath bombs in the hope it calms down.

Give Them A Soothing Bath

A soothing bath followed by some cream can help children feel less itchy. I have found oat baths helpful for really dry skin (or chicken pox) in the past, but it can be messy. A better alternative may be a bath oil specifically formulated for dry skin and eczema. 

Treat The Itch

My eldest has recently been using Epaderm Junior Ointment we were sent to try on her skin and I’ve noticed she scratches less afterwards. When I have encouraged her to use creams in the past she has complained about them stinging, but she hasn’t with the Epaderm Junior so I would definitely recommend others try it.

A patch of red angry skin on a child's legs

Cover The Affected Area

While it won’t necessarily stop the scratching, light cotton clothing like pyjamas in bed will make it less likely that absent minded scratching will further irritate the skin.

Distract Them

The more you scratch the more it itches and it can be hard to break the cycle, but a distraction might make children forget it for long enough the itching can calm down a bit. Going outside on a bug hunt, making a cake or even watching TV will hold most children’s attention for a while.

A young girl filling cup cake cases

Restrain Their Hands

I'm not talking handcuffs and I doubt they would be that effective anyway given children's yoga skills, but holding their hands is a nice and loving albeit short term fix for scratching.

Bribe Them

I’m generally not a big fan of bribes or giving rewards for good behaviour, but sometimes they are an essential part of our parenting tool kit. If they can manage to stop themselves scratching with the motivation of a treat then it could stop them being in pain later or leaving a scar so it’s worth trying.

Tickle Them Every Time They Start To Scratch

The opposite of rewarding children is to punish them or creating a negative association with an activity. I wouldn’t want to actually punish a child for scratching, let's face it they are suffering enough with the eczema, dry skin or whatever is causing their distress, but giving them a tickle every time you catch them scratching might be enough to break the cycle. Not ideal at bed time though.

Attach Gloves

Surely every parent has heard the rumours of someone who taped oven gloves to their child’s hands to stop them scratching when they had chicken pox? I’m not sure if it's even true, but maybe silk gloves would be a better solution? It’s definitely harder to scratch if you don’t have your hands and nails free. Then again I’ve seen a bear scratch it’s back on a tree so maybe hands aren’t very necessary...

Finger Painting 

The more you tell a child not to scratch the more likely they are to just try and hide it, or deny they are doing it. If you set them up finger painting it will be very obvious if they have scratched because there will be a paint trail of everything they touch. Of course this won’t necessarily stop them scratching at all, but it will save the argument about whether they did or not. Maybe get them to finger paint with special cream or oils that actually smooth the skin and you can help stop the itching too! 

There were probably a few more ideas, but my dreaming got a little confused and distant to reality, possibly related to a wriggly worm with head lice or something equally peculiar triggered by the ongoing behaviour of my daughter preventing me achieving a deep sleep.

I hope some of the suggestions work for you, do you have any fool proof ways to stop your child scratching? I would love to hear it.

A tub of Epaderm Junior Ointment next to a blanket and Ewan the dream sheep

***Disclosure: This post is a #OneTwoFreeYourSkin competition entry with Epaderm Junior.  Mentions of the product above are our honest opinions based on our recent use of products we were sent***


  1. I'm lucky mine don't suffer from excema but I cam imagine how hard it must be when they're itchy but you don't want them scratching. Sounds like you've got some good tips here!

    1. Thank you. My eldest has really sensitive skin, but my youngest doesn't seem to have the same problems fortunately.

  2. Gosh I remember when Zach had really bad eczema, it was so hard to try and stop him scratching. Thankfully over the years it got less and less and now he doesn't really get it at all. These are all really great ideas :)


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