Angry red, itchy patches may seem like a fact of life for most eczema sufferers but they don’t have to be. Identifying and eliminating your eczema triggers can help you avoid flare-ups and keep your skin looking and feeling its best. How can you tell what is causing your eczema to flare? Review these common triggers and see if any of them are contributing to your skin issues:
What to Avoid When you Have Eczema
Weather and Temperature
The weather outside can contribute to flare ups and trigger an eczema outbreak. You’re more likely to experience eczema in hot weather and when there are extremes in humidity. You’re more likely to sweat in the summer, and the combination of heat and perspiration can make your eczema worse. Very high or very low levels of humidity can trigger eczema as well. Avoiding overexertion in hot or humid weather and using a good moisturizer to protect your skin in low humidity will help you avoid eczema outbreaks.
You may not even know you have one, but some food allergies can cause eczema outbreaks. Often noticed in early childhood, food related eczema outbreaks can be triggered by any of the common allergens:
- Gluten or wheat
- Eggs and dairy
- Seeds and nuts
- Fruits and herbs
From strawberries to eggs and even a simple loaf of bread, an allergy to a particular food or ingredient can cause your edema to flare up. If you did not get diagnosed with an allergy in childhood, you may not even know you have one; tracking what you eat and eliminating common allergens may help you identify your personal triggers and reduce your eczema outbreaks, too.
Everything you put on your skin has the potential to trigger an eczema outbreak; the triggers are different for everyone. If you have recently changed your soap, cosmetics or shampoo and notice an increase or flare-up of your eczema, the new product could be to blame. Every person has unique sensitivities, but in general, these products can trigger a flare-up of edema:
- Soap or lotion
- Shampoos and body wash
- Dish soap and household cleansers
- Cosmetics and beauty treatments
Pets and Dander
Your own pets may be causing your eczema to flare up. If you have a new puppy – and a new rash – these things may be connected. While cats and dogs are the most likely culprits, any fur or feather-bearing pet can contribute to your eczema risk. You don’t have to get rid of your pets, but keeping them off of your bed and furniture and washing up carefully after petting can reduce your chances of an itchy flare-up a few hours later.
A good vacuum and a thorough dusting routine can eliminate this common eczema trigger. Dust and dust mites in your home can be lurking anywhere – and can contribute to your eczema. Laundering bedding in hot water and upgrading your vacuum may be all you need to do to cut your risk; if you are not sure where your eczema is coming from, check and treat your home for dust.
Every case of eczema is different, and every person has different triggers. If you can identify the things that cause your eczema to flare, you can avoid the things that affect you most.
+Dr.Lee Eberting is a board certified dermatologist and is a past fellow of the National Institutes of Health, who blogs regularly at cherylleemd.com