Eczema Triggers and Treatments

Eczema is a term that describes inflammation of the skin when part of the immune system is imbalanced. There are several types of eczema.  

 Common types of eczema include:  

  • Contact Dermatitis 
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis 
  • Nummular Dermatitis 
  • Stasis Dermatitis 
  • Atopic Dermatitis 
  • Dermatitis Herpeiformis  

Individuals who suffer from this condition often experience symptoms such as itchy, dry, and inflamed skin, discoloration in the skin, and rough or scaly patches on the skin. Eczema presents itself on part of the body where the skin folds or creases. These areas can include the hands, wrists, elbows, ankles, backs of knees, and around the eyes and face. Everyone’s experience with eczema is different, but there are commonalities among the triggers that affect this skin disorder.  

Eczema Related Triggers:

  • Irritants: It is not a surprise that products containing harsh chemicals such as soaps and cleansers with fragrances would exacerbate or trigger the symptoms involved with eczema. This is also relevant for individuals who have sensitive skin and other skin disorders.  
  • Cold and Dry Weather: Cold and dry weather conditions can sap the natural moisture in your skin and dry it out, worsening your condition. 
  • Stress: Stress, when released in substantial amounts, can take a toll on the human body in a variety of ways. An essential hormone known as cortisol is known for regulating your body’s stress response. However, when released in excess, it can suppress the immune system and create inflammation within the body. As the inflammation in the body rises so do the symptoms of eczema. 
  • Food Allergies: Certain foods may provoke flare-ups for individuals that suffer from eczema. It is important to pay attention to the foods that do not agree with your system and aggravate your eczema. However, common foods that may trigger eczema include wheat and gluten, tomatoes, citrus foods, soy, broccoli, dried foods, avocados, certain dairies, yogurt, cow’s milk, cheese, butter, grapes, certain spices such as cinnamon and vanilla, eggs, and certain kinds of nuts. Before completely ditching food items from your diet, it is suggested to focus on one food at a time, paying close attention to your skin’s condition and sensitivity.  
  • Race or ethnicities: Certain races and ethnic groups are more likely to experience symptoms of eczema.  
  • Genetics: Along with an individual’s ethnicity, their genetics also plays a role in having eczema. Studies have shown that if a parent has eczema, their child is two to three times more likely to also suffer from the skin condition.  
  • Mold: Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals, including those with eczema. When a person with eczema encounters mold, it can lead to an immune system response, triggering or worsening their eczema symptoms.  
  • Heat and Sweat: Both heat and sweat can cause increased itching and irritation in individuals with eczema. As sweat evaporates, it can leave behind salt crystals which can irritate the skin and lead to discomfort. Although sweat can contribute to the moisture of the skin, prolonged exposure to heat and excessive sweating can lead to loss of moisture, which in turn dries out the skin. Eczema-prone skin can already be vulnerable to infections and an overabundance of sweat can create a warm and moist environment suitable for bacterial and fungal infections.  
  • Pollen: Pollen is a common allergen, and those with eczema may be prone to allergic reactions when exposed to it. When the immune system is triggered, it can lead to increased inflammation and worsening eczema symptoms.   

Eczema is not contagious. However, those suffering from this skin condition often endure painful or irritating symptoms. As previously mentioned, eczema has typical flare-up locations, but it can occur anywhere on the skin. Symptoms include dry, cracked skin, itchiness, rashes varying in color, oozing, and crusting, thickened skin, and darkened eyes. However, some essential tips and steps may help reduce the flares as well as the severity of symptoms.  

Helpful Tips to Lesson Symptoms:

  1. Moisture Skin Daily: Moisturizers including creams, ointments, shea butter and lotions seal in the moisture of your skin. It is important to choose products that agree with your skin type and are affordable, effective, and safe. Keeping the skin hydrated is crucial for managing eczema. To maintain your skin’s moisture and strengthen the skin barrier, it is recommended to apply cream or ointment at least twice a day.  
  2. Shower Daily: Try to limit your bathing time to 10 minutes to not dry out the skin. It is also meaningful to avoid hot water and opt for lukewarm water instead.  
  3. Use Gentle Cleanser: Choosing a cleanser that is free from parabens, alcohol, and other harsh fragrances and chemicals is key to avoiding flare-ups. Additionally, avoid scrubbing the skin with loofahs or washcloths.  
  4. Apply Topical Medications: When advised by your provider, topical medications can be beneficial when suffering from eczema. These medications are commonly prescribed for eczema flare-ups to reduce inflammation and itching. They come in a variety of strengths and should be used according to your doctor’s instructions.  
  5. Stay Cool: Try to stay in a cool and well-ventilated environment, especially during hot and humid months.  
  6. Avoid Scratching: Scratching the skin can irritate the area and make eczema symptoms worse, damage the skin, and even cause infection. A helpful tip to avoid skin damage is to keep your nails short and consider wearing cotton gloves at night to avoid unintentional itching.  
  7. Dress Appropriately: Opting for loose-fitting, lightweight, breathable clothing, as well as fabrics made from natural fibers such as cotton can allow for better air circulation. Taking this essential step during warmer months can help wick away sweat from the skin and avoid irritation.  
  8. Light Therapy: Another treatment option for improving the symptoms related to eczema is light therapy. Medical supervision is typically recommended for this treatment route.  

It is important to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific condition. Skin experts can assess the severity of your eczema, identify its triggers and tailor an approach that meets your needs.  

If you or someone you know suffers from eczema, contact our office today!