5 Most Likely Eczema Triggers And How To Cope
If you suffer from eczema, chances are you’ve spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what on earth triggers your symptoms.
Is it dust mites? Gluten? The weather? That stray dog you patted on the way home from work?
Seriously, it gets tiring. And incredibly frustrating. If only the enigma that was our ‘trigger’ would just reveal itself, oh wouldn’t this world be such a wonderful place!
But unfortunately, it doesn’t. It likes to stay buried away, hidden from the world until you eventually (through some dark arts black magic) manage to figure it out.
We’re here to say - we see you. And we want to try our best to help.
So in this article, you’ll learn:
1) What is eczema? (Just quickly)
2) Common symptoms
3) 5 most likely triggers
4) Top home treatment tips to help you cope
So, what is eczema?
Eczema is a long term, chronic, non-contagious skin condition. Patches of skin become itchy, dry or inflamed, and may cause blisters that weep and are sore to touch. There are 7 different types in total, all with varying symptoms and degrees of severity.
Experts still don’t know the exact ‘cause’ of eczema, however it’s believed to be a combination of genetics and environmental triggers.
One important proven factor is that people with eczema struggle to retain moisture and often have a damaged or defective skin barrier. This makes them prone to allergens and more likely to react to irritants in their close environment.
- Itchy skin (like right pain in the butt itchy skin)
- Red patches
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Inflammation and swelling
- Oozing or crusting
- Rough, leathery patches
It’s possible to have just one of these symptoms, or (if you’re super lucky), the whole bunch at once.
Eczema will commonly appear in ‘flare ups’, where your skin gets progressively worse as it reacts to an internal or external trigger.
5 most likely triggers
Right then, the interesting part.
This is a biggie. Certain foods have the ability to flare up symptoms almost instantly, causing a reaction that will usually manifest itself in itchy or red patches on the skin.
Some of the common foods to look out for are:
One of the best ways to try and find out if you're allergic to a certain food group is through an elimination diet. You can either cut a whole bunch of foods all at once, then slowly re-introduce them and see which, if any, spark a flare up.
Or, you can cut them one by one and re-introduce them as you go.
We prefer the first option, alongside maintaining a food diary to help keep track of exactly what you’ve been eating.
Once you’ve (hopefully) found food groups that don’t agree with you - avoid. Forever!
2. Airborne allergens
Here we’re talking dust mites, pet dander, mould and pollen.
The answer? Keep your house clean. Like sparkling could eat off the floor clean. And change your bed sheets regularly.
Oh and maybe don’t go running through a field of long grass in summer. (You’re too old for that anyway now, aren’t you?)
3. Stress and anxiety
This is often overlooked but likely plays a prominent role in your eczema flare ups. When you go through times of stress and anxiety, your body reacts by releasing a number of hormones into the bloodstream.
The knock on effect is they often cause inflammation and exacerbate symptoms, setting in motion an all too familiar cycle of itch - scratch - stress which can be so difficult to break free from.
We know how tough eczema can be on your mental health and there’s no doubt that your emotional well-being and skin health are closely linked.
4. Environment (mainly the weather)
Often eczema can become worse in winter. The main reason? Cold air outside and central heating inside drys out your skin leaving it more prone to irritation.
In hot climates you also sweat more, which can lead to itchy skin.
Whilst washing your clothes with scented detergent can leave you ripe for a flare up, so can the material itself of the clothes you’re wearing.
Polyester or wool are common culprits. Still want to wear that ridiculous festive jumper? Wear an extra layer underneath to protect your skin :)
Clearly this is not an exhaustive list and what triggers a flare up for you, will likely be completely different to what triggers your brother, sister or friend from work.
A patch test however is a good way to help you pin down those triggers and is certainly something we would recommend. These can either be done privately or through a dermatologist/allergist on the NHS.
Top home treatment tips
Sometimes, it’s impossible not to trigger a flare up. Your skin might one day just decide it’s suddenly become allergic to your cat. Brilliant.
If this does happen, hopefully the simple tips below might help you get back on track.
1) Stop the itch
But how we hear you ask! Luckily, our very own calming spray is exactly what you’ve been missing :)
Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for 1000’s of years to help fight eczema-prone skin, our unique plant-based formula helps to hydrate and repair the skin barrier, whilst fighting and easing inflammation.
And the best bit? It’s steroid, paraben and sulphate free :)
Like we said, got eczema? Got a damaged skin barrier. It’s that simple.
So give yourself a helping hand - moisturise at least twice a day to seal in hydration and fight off unwanted irritants.
3) Stress relief
Vital to your overall health and wellbeing, you must find time to prioritise your own happiness and take time to relax.
We like to suggest meditation and mindfulness as great tools to help with this (as well as Headspace) - jump over to our social pages @yanyeeskincare for a nudge in the right direction.
4) Hypo-allergenic, baby
You heard me! Detergent, shower gel, soap - anything that touches your skin. It has to be hypo-allergenic. Always.
5) Be consistent and keep positive
Maybe the most important point of all - stay consistent, keep positive, and try to laugh :) Eczema sucks. It really does. But we can’t just roll over and let it win now, can we?
So there we have it, a quick run through of the most likely eczema triggers that might be causing your flare ups. Hopefully we’ve provided some useful tips that might help you get back (and stay back) on track.
What have we missed? Head over to our Twitter page and let us know!
The yan-yee team
- What is eczema? (n.d.). Link
- How to do an elimination diet and why. (2017). Link
- Nutrition: Keeping a food diary. (2020). Link
- Cortisol - Its role in stress, inflammation, and indications for diet therapy. (2009). Link
- Identification and management of trigger factors. (2007). Link
- Katta R, et al. (2014). Diet and dermatitis: Food triggers. Link