Living with eczema can be frustrating in more ways than one, especially when you or someone you care for deals with constant flare-ups. This increased sensitivity to a myriad of irritants can make one’s life uncomfortable, but avoiding the common triggers behind this aggravating skin condition can help reduce its disruptive effects. But to understand what fuels your eczema to become a full flare-up, we first have to understand its root causes.
What is Eczema and What Causes It?
Many people across the world manage eczema daily, but unfortunately, there is still no clear answer as to what causes this skin condition. That’s why it’s easy to misjudge eczema as purely inflammation. It can take on different forms such as seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and more for mainly two reasons:
For one, different types of eczema are primarily set off by an unhealthy skin microbiome, wherein a specific form of dermatitis is caused by an uptick in certain bacterias. Atopic dermatitis, for instance, is the most common (and severe) form of dermatitis that is aggravated by a bacterium known as staphylococcus aureus. This can overstimulate the body’s natural production of protein, leading to inflammation.
Speaking of inflammation, it’s not necessarily the cause of the skin condition but serves as a visible symptom of various forms of eczema. While most people have immune systems that can turn off inflammation during its early stages, for those that can’t, inflammation can turn into flare-ups. These manifest as red, scaly, and itchy patches on the skin.
What is an Eczema Flare-Up?
We’ve been talking about how you can avoid triggering eczema flare-ups, but for those who don’t know what it looks or feels like, causing one’s skin condition to have a reaction results in the following symptoms of inflammation:
- Red, itchy rash;
- Itchy skin with oozing fluids;
- Bumps with fluids that can easily bleed when scratched;
- Dryness and discoloration of the skin;
- Sleep disturbances due to extreme itchiness;
Eczema and Its Many Triggers: Avoiding the Root Causes
Currently, there is no cure for eczema since it is a life-long skin condition, but knowing how to identify the common triggers can do wonders for ensuring you or your loved one leads a comfortable life regardless.
It can be tricky to spot the usual things that prompt eczema since the symptoms often manifest days later, but generally, the list below puts the spotlight on the usual suspects:
Dry Skin - People with drier skin are prone to eczema flare-ups since the surface becomes brittle, rough, or tight. This is a common trigger, particularly since the skin lacks the healthy barrier to protect it from bacteria and viruses.
With that in mind, it’s important to keep yourself moisturized with trusted, preventative products like Harlan MD’s SmartLotion®, a prebiotic cream that is safe enough to use daily to effectively manage eczema.
Irritants - there are different forms of irritants everywhere, some of which are unique to the individual. Nonetheless, some common irritants that can cause the skin to itch and turn into full-blown eczema include everyday household items such as the following:
- Soaps and household cleansers;
- Fabrics such as wool and polyester;
- Metals such as jewelry, pennies, and especially a nickel;
- Cigarette smoke;
- Antibacterial ointment, particularly neomycin and bacitracin;
- Formaldehyde, which is often found in everyday household items like glues, adhesives, or disinfectants;
- Isothiazolinone, which is common in hygiene products like baby wipes;
- Cocamidopropyl betaine, which most people come into contact with through thickening shampoos and lotions;
- Paraphenylenediamine, which you can find in temporary tattoos, leather dyes, or even hair dyes.
If you come into contact with any form of irritants, especially those that can deplete the skin of its healthy oils, it’s best to rinse the part of your skin exposed to the irritants to slow down its impact on your condition.
After washing your skin, be sure to dry the wet area gently and re-apply a barrier cream, emollient, or any moisturizer. Remember that eczema can be triggered by dry skin, so reintroducing moisture can do wonders for both flare-up relief and prevention. If possible, you can also try to wear gloves when using harsh household products that are known to irritate your skin.
- Stress and Anxiety - leading hectic lives can be stressful in more ways than one, but what does wrestling with one’s anxious-driven thoughts have anything to do with eczema?
- As it turns out, research shows that while negative emotions like depression, anxiety, or stress don’t necessarily cause eczema, these feelings can take a toll on the body by setting off the skin condition’s usual symptoms.
- Emotional stress can release a hormone known as cortisol, and when the body has too much of this during difficult times, it can affect your immune system. When the immune system fails to regulate the body, it results in an inflammatory response, primarily triggering a specific form of dermatitis known as dyshidrotic eczema.
The Bottom Line: Knowing the Triggers and Treatment for Eczema
Understanding the complexities of eczema and managing its easily triggered symptoms can significantly help you mitigate flare-ups, allowing you to lead a more comfortable life. However, it’s nearly impossible to avoid every possible trigger that can provoke your skin condition, so learning how to spot them counts as half the solution to this lifelong battle.
While various over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications can effectively soothe eczema flare-ups, these treatments often contain harsh substances that are not safe for everyday, preventive use.
Keeping yourself relaxed and following up with a healthy diet made up of anti-inflammatory foods like fish and other delicious sources of omega-3 fatty acids or probiotic foods can promote healthier skin, leading to a stronger immune system that can keep your eczema at bay.
Are You Looking for an All-in-One Solution for All Types of Eczema?
Keeping up with the proper diet can help manage eczema flare-ups, but it can be challenging to steer clear of any possible triggers to your skin condition. If you’re dealing with eczema outbreaks, we can help relieve and minimize future eruptions with our SmartLotion®!
What is SmartLotion®?
Dr. Steven Harlan formulated the first-ever prebiotic lotion to safely help eczema and dermatitis with ingredients tailored to restore your skin’s smoothness, suppleness, and natural perfection. Despite its moniker, the SmartLotion® is not necessarily a lotion but more of a restorative and preventive product that uses prebiotics to enhance your skin’s microbiome.
Beyond minimizing outbreaks by reducing the bad bacteria and yeast living on your skin, the anti-inflammatory solution is safe for daily use, making it one of the only products in the world that can effectively manage your eczema for the long haul.
Check out Harlan MD today and see how our SmartLotion can help bring back your comfort and confidence!