Intro to Wet Wrap Therapy
If you’ve lived or cared for someone with eczema, chances are you’ve heard of an eczema treatment called “wet wrap therapy.” Here’s what you need to know about what wet wrap therapy is, how it works, how to decide whether it’s right for you, and how to conduct wet wraps at home.
What is Wet Wrap Therapy?
Wet wrap therapy is an eczema management technique. It is generally recommended for patients with moderate-to-severe eczema that isn’t responding to topical treatments. It can also be used during intense flares or for patients with erythrodermic eczema. Wrap wrap therapy involves applying emollients and/or topical steroids to the skin, then putting on wet dressings followed by dry dressings, and leaving them on for several hours or overnight. It is meant to be used as a short-term intervention for no more than 1-2 weeks.
How Does Wet Wrap Therapy Work?
Wet wraps facilitate the absorption of medication and creams absorption into the skin. This can result in rapid symptom relief and better moisturized skin, although increased absorption of topical steroids may be a concern for some patients. Covering the skin with wet wraps traps moisture, which can lead to increased folliculitis or infection. Discuss wet wrap therapy with your healthcare provider to determine whether it’s right for you.
Wet Wrap Therapy for Children
Wet wrap therapy can be used as an eczema treatment for both children and adults. A 2014 study showed that wet wrap therapy improved eczema symptoms among children ages 1.5-7 for up to a month after treatment. But wet wrapping is a time-intensive treatment that requires patience, and children may find it uncomfortable.
If your child’s eczema isn’t responding to topical treatments, their doctor may recommend wet wrap therapy as a short-term intervention. Be sure to ask for step-by-step instructions.
How to Do Wet Wrap Therapy At Home
Wet wrap therapy can be conducted as an inpatient treatment or in the comfort of your home. It’s a time-intensive process, so you’ll want to make sure to set out your supplies ahead of time and find ways to stay comfortable and entertain yourself over the course of the treatment. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing wet wraps at home.
1. Organize Your Supplies
Start by getting all your supplies ready and placing them next to the bathtub. You’ll need the following:
- Emollient cream and/or topical steroids
- Bandages OR 2 pairs of pajamas that you don’t mind getting wet and greasy
- 2 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of cotton gloves
- Any wet wrap specific clothing you have for areas like the face and neck OR several small towels
3. Take a Bath
Start by taking a lukewarm bath for 10 minutes. You can take a bleach bath or oatmeal bath if it helps soothe your skin. Pat your skin dry.
3. Apply Your Creams
If you’re using topical steroids, apply them to flared skin as directed by your doctor. Then apply your favorite emollient all over your body. Wet wraps can also be conducted just using emollients. Do not apply calcineurin inhibitors if you are planning to do a wet wrap.
4. Get Your First Layer of Fabric Wet
Moisten 1 set of the bandages and/or pajamas, socks, gloves or towels that you’re using with clean, lukewarm water. This first layer of fabric should be damp, but not sopping wet. Apply wet bandages to affected areas and/or put on wet clothes right away.
5. Cover Up With a Dry Layer
Apply a layer of dry bandages and/or pajamas, socks, gloves or towels on top of your wet layer. This can be a little cumbersome, but it helps lock moisture into your skin.
6. Get Comfortable + Give It Time
Find a spot where you can comfortably rest for several hours. You can put towels down on top of your furniture or bedding so you don’t get it wet. You may also want to have blankets on hand as sitting in wet linens can get cold. Leave your wet wraps on for several hours or overnight. If you are planning to sleep in your wet wraps, remove any loose towels from the face or neck before bed so they don’t obstruct your mouth and nose as you sleep.
7. Remove Wet Wraps
After several hours or in the morning, remove your wet and dry linens and change into clean, dry clothes. Your wet wrap is complete!
How to Wet Wrap Specific Areas
Some parts of the body are more difficult to wet wrap than others. Check out the instructions below for doing wet wraps on your face, hands, and neck.
Wet Wrap Therapy for Face
Wet wrapping your face at home can be difficult. Some people opt to do facial wet wrap therapy at their doctor’s office, where trained medical personnel can use bandages and surgical netting. Facial wet wraps can be left on for shorter durations, and care should be taken around the potency of steroids you're using.
If you’re looking for optimal coverage at home, it is possible to purchase specific wet wrap garments from online retailers. You can also drape several small towels over your cheeks, chin, and forehead, but it can be difficult to keep these on for the duration of the treatment. If you’re a caregiver wet wrapping a child, make sure their facial wet wrap doesn’t obstruct their mouth and nose and do not leave them unsupervised.
Wet Wrap Therapy for Neck
Wet wrap therapy for the neck is similar to the face—you may want to do it under medical supervision or purchase specific wet wrap clothing online, but towels can be used as if you were wrapping a scarf. Make sure that any wet wraps around the neck aren’t too tight.
Wet Wrap Therapy for Hands
Cotton gloves can be helpful for wet wrapping your hands. If you’d like to be able to use your hands more readily during a wet wrap, just take a pair of scissors and snip off the fingertips off both pairs on gloves before you put them on - that way you can use your phone, turn pages of a book, or operate a computer or remote control while the treatment takes place.
Soak and Seal with Gladskin
If you don’t want to hang around in wet linens for hours, consider the soak and seal method instead, which also helps repair the skin barrier. After a shower or a bath, immediately pat dry and apply your favorite moisturizer to your skin. We recommend Gladskin’s Eczema Cream with Micreobalance® to balance the skin microbiome and reduce eczema symptoms, and our Body Lotion, which provides 24-hour hydration to extremely dry skin. Once you’ve moisturized, put on your pajamas and relax in comfort.