Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects about 10% of the population. While the exact cause of eczema is not fully understood, it is believed to be a result of genetic and environmental factors that lead to a compromised skin barrier function and an overactive immune response.
People with eczema often experience flare-ups when they come into contact with one or more “triggers.” Here are some of the most common eczema triggers and how our dermatologists recommend they be managed:
When the skin is dry, it loses its natural oils and becomes more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. This can lead to itching, redness, and flaky patches on the skin. To manage dry skin, it is important to maintain good skin hydration by using moisturizers regularly, especially after bathing or showering, to help lock in moisture. Look for moisturizers that contain ceramides, which help restore the skin’s barrier function.
Irritants such as soaps, detergents, and fragrances can trigger eczema flare-ups. These products can disrupt the skin barrier and cause inflammation. Use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products that are designed for sensitive skin. Avoid using hot water when bathing or showering. Moisturize the skin immediately after bathing to help lock in moisture. If certain fabrics bother you, stick to cotton—an eczema-friendly textile.
Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander can trigger eczema flare-ups in some people. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a substance that it perceives as harmful. Successfully managing allergies involves identifying the allergen and taking steps to avoid it. This may involve changing your diet, using allergy-proof bedding, or keeping pets out of certain rooms in your home. In some cases, allergy testing may be necessary to identify the specific allergen.
Stress is a well-known trigger for eczema. When the body is under stress, it produces hormones such as cortisol that can cause inflammation and lead to eczema flare-ups. It’s not easy, but there are things you can do to reduce stress in your life. This may involve practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, or seeking professional help from a therapist.
Weather can also trigger eczema flare-ups in some people. Cold, dry weather can be particularly problematic, as it can dry out the skin and lead to irritation. Wear gloves and a scarf when you’re outside in cold weather, and use a humidifier indoors to help keep the air moist.
In addition to managing your eczema triggers, it is important to see your dermatologist regularly to monitor your eczema and ensure that you’re managing it effectively. At Arizona Dermatology, we work with eczema patients of all ages to keep their condition under control, so they can enjoy healthier, more comfortable skin.