If you’re suffering from eczema, you may have already identified some of your major eczema triggers. Other allergens and irritants may still be lurking in your bathroom cabinet, or elsewhere in your home, however.
The best way to prevent flare-ups is to identify your eczema triggers and take steps to avoid them. Even seemingly innocuous foodstuffs and everyday substances can cause a flare-up if we’re not diligent.
Eczema Triggers – Figuring Out Your Skin’s Sensitivities
Eczema sufferers may wish to consider trial exclusions of common eczema triggers, such as eggs, and the milk from cows, goats, and sheep. This is particularly key for children with eczema, where these foodstuffs are common cross-reactive allergens.
Even some natural products and seemingly safe foodstuffs can trigger eczema symptoms. For instance, fresh juice from vegetables and fruit, as well as meat juices, can irritate the skin. In such cases, it may be helpful to use
a food processor, cut products under water, wear gloves when cutting such things, or to ask someone else to help with this particular task.
Other common triggers
Polyester and natural fibres such as wool may cause skin irritation and eczema flare-ups, as can lanolin (sheep skin fat). Lanolin is often found in moisturisers and skin creams or other toiletry products and can be hard to avoid.
Artificial fragrances and other chemicals in laundry detergent and household cleaning products can also trigger eczema. Switching to unscented, natural products can help, as can wearing cotton gloves inside rubber gloves when washing up. These steps may help reduce flare-ups of atopic eczema and contact dermatitis symptoms.
Saponins, Solvents, and Other Eczema Triggers
Common contenders for eczema triggers are often saponifiable products, i.e. those that form soap bubbles. These include hand and dish soap, body wash and facial cleansers, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath, or surface disinfectants and cleaning solutions.
It is also wise to minimise or avoid contact with solvents and strong chemicals, when doing DIY tasks for instance. In addition, try to avoid sudden temperature changes as sweating and skin dryness can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
Some people find that it helps to avoid using products that contain the following types of chemicals:
- Formaldehyde (in household disinfectants, glues, adhesives, and some vaccines)
- Antibacterial ointment (such as neomycin and bacitracin)
- Isothiazolinones (an antibacterial found in some baby wipes and other personal care products).
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (a thickener in some shampoos and lotions)
- Paraphenylene-diamine (found in leather dyes and temporary tattoos).
Removing Eczema Triggers
For many people with eczema, it can be difficult to remove allergens and irritants and can take considerable effort on the part of the whole family. For example, it may require conversations with partner(s) and housemates over the use of laundry detergents, colognes, perfumes, and other products.
When considering dietary allergens in atopic eczema in children, it is important not to make major changes to your child’s diet without consulting a qualified doctor or nutritionist first. Restricting foods in the diet can result in deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which can adversely affect a child’s growth and development.
In some cases the guidance of a nutritionist may be required to detect nutritional deficiencies associated with eczema. Problems with the metabolism of certain nutrients can also contribute to the development and persistence of eczema and are harder to spot without appropriate tests.
Final Thoughts on Eczema Relief
For some eczema sufferers, the main culprits are seasonal pollen, dust mites, mold, and dandruff. Taking steps to reduce exposure to these triggers may involve using air filters and pest-preventive bedding, and dehumidifiers.
Dander and saliva from cats and dogs can also trigger eczema. Regular grooming of animal companions may help (just be sure to avoid using grooming products that contain irritants).