Red Flags Signaling an Eczema Flare-Up

Health Writer
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Eczema symptoms are different for every patient, according to National Eczema Foundation. The symptoms of eczema can make it difficult to work and carry out daily tasks, especially during a severe flare-up. It helps to know the warning signs of a flare so you can treat it and possibly head off those aggravating and painful symptoms.


What is a flare-up?

Symptoms of eczema tend to come and go, according to the National Institutes of Health. When symptoms appear, it is considered a flare-up. Sometimes these symptoms will continue to worsen and at other times they may appear only for a short time. Keep reading to find out some of the early warning signs of a flare.


You experience a bout of allergies

Between 30 and 40 percent of people with eczema have an allergic type of the disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. This means they have hay fever or allergic asthma, as well. When these people have bouts of allergies, their immune system releases antibodies which causes inflammation, which in turn may lead to a flare-up.


You experience itchiness

The first sign of an eczema flare-up might be itchiness. Many people have mild or moderate itchiness. But some have severe itchiness, which can lead to inflammation. Scratching can cause the site of the itchiness and inflammation to bleed, according to the National Eczema Foundation.


Your skin feels dry

Some people with eczema might notice that their skin feels dry shortly before a flare-up. Whenever your skin feels dry, you should apply moisturizer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Make sure the moisturizer is eczema-friendly, which means free of perfumes and dyes.


You notice redness or patches of discolored skin

For many, eczema appears as red patches on the skin, but some people may have darker patches, and people of color may notice lighter areas of the skin or brown/grayish patches of skin, according to the Skin of Color Society. Any skin discoloration can be a warning sign of an impending flare up.


You have a cough, cold or flu

You may notice that you end up with an eczema flare whenever you have a cold or upper respiratory condition. These are common triggers for eczema flares, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It may be that these conditions trigger the immune system, which in turn triggers your eczema to flare.


You're exposed to known triggers

While everyone’s triggers might be different, some common triggers include pollen, mold, animal dander, cold or dry air, chemicals, rough materials and fragrances or dyes in soaps, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you are aware of your triggers and you have been exposed to any of them, be on the lookout for signs of a flare and take steps to treat the area immediately.


You are under stress

Stress is a common trigger for eczema, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you are under stress or are emotionally vulnerable, you may notice itchiness or redness on your skin. Use moisturizers and topical treatments immediately to help alleviate the symptoms. According to a study published in 2014, hypnotherapy and biofeedback during stressful periods were found to reduce the severity of flare-ups.


Educate yourself

Learning about eczema and the different therapies used to manage it helped people better manage the condition, according to recent research. Education programs led by medical professionals that explained eczema, its causes, appropriate therapies, and goals for management were found to be extremely helpful to those living with eczema.