Eczema is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What causes eczema to flare in one person might not cause any problems for another. While there are some common triggers, it is impossible to say with any certainty that food, soap, stress or anything else will be an eczema trigger for someone. But it is possible to track your own triggers and then take steps to avoid that trigger and therefore reduce your chances of experiencing a flare of eczema symptoms.
Some common triggers include:** Extreme temperatures** - When the temperature outside is either very hot or very cold, some people are more apt to have eczema flares. This can be caused by the lack of humidity in the air, high levels of humidity in the air or sweating, which can irritate the skin.
Certain foods - If you have eczema, you have a higher chance of also having food allergies. If you do, eating these foods can cause your eczema to flare. Some common foods that might cause an allergic reaction include dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products and wheat.
Dust mites - Although it is impossible to completely get rid of dust mites, you can keep them to a minimum by dusting and vacuuming on a daily or weekly basis and washing sheets and linens in hot water each week. If possible, keep carpeting off floors and leave windows without curtains.
Synthetic fabrics - Fabrics that are rough can irritate the skin. Look for clothing made of natural fibers that are loose fitting. Clothes made from cotton are considered a good choice. When purchasing new clothes, wash the clothes in a mild detergent before wearing them.
Soaps and detergents - Look for soaps and detergents that are mild and fragrance-free. You might find double rinsing your clothes when washing them helps remove any soap residue.
Pollen - Pay attention to the pollen counts (many weather reports will also report on local pollen counts, especially during the spring months), and stay indoors as much as possible on days when the pollen count is high. When you are outdoors, take a shower immediately when returning indoors and wash your clothes to remove any pollen.
Pet dander - Like dust mites, pet dander can cause flare ups of eczema in some people. If your pets stay indoors, vacuum rugs often and keep the pets off beds. Make sure your pets get regular baths.
Smoking - For some people, cigarette smoke is a trigger for eczema. If you smoke and have eczema, consider quitting. If you live with someone who smokes, ask if they could limit their smoking to outside.
Hot showers - Hot water tends to dry out your skin. When showering or bathing, keep the water luke warm and moisturize your skin as soon as you are done. Pat dry your skin instead of rubbing it dry with a towel.
Stress - For some people, stress is a trigger for eczema. While it is impossible to get rid of all stress, practice meditation or yoga on a daily basis and use deep breathing to help lower stress levels. Daily exercise also decreases your response to stress.
If you have eczema, keep track of your triggers by writing down your activities, food and stressful situations each time you experience a flare. Although this can be time consuming, as you continue to keep track, you may start to see trends and pick out those situations and activities that might be worsening or causing eczema flares.
For more information on managing eczema:
Eczema May Be a Predictor of Adult Asthma
Ten Things You Need to Know About Adult Eczema
If It's Fall, This Must Be Eczema
Eczema & Children: What Parents Can Do
The Link Between Eczema and Food Allergies