If you have experienced eczema, you might already know the struggle in managing it and preventing its flare-ups. This skin condition can manifest in the form of itching, redness, flaking, soreness, and inflammation, making the skin hypersensitive. It can be extremely challenging to treat or manage eczema.
Fortunately, certain skincare ingredients, lifestyle changes, precautions, and tips can help relieve eczema-prone skin without causing aggravation and reduce the probability of future flare-ups.
This article will help answer questions and concerns and list some effective ways of managing and preventing the symptoms of eczema. So, keep on reading for more!
What is Eczema?
Eczema, aka atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that can get aggravated or flared up due to exposure to certain types of irritants or environmental triggers. The condition is characterized by frequent dry skin, sores, itching, flaky patches, and flushing.
The term is used broadly to refer to a group of skin problems with the same symptoms, such as inflammation, scaling, and itching. Eczema can manifest on any part of the body, including the face. The common areas on the face that are affected by eczema include the forehead, chin, nose, and cheeks.
How to Know if You Have Eczema?
If you are experiencing symptoms characteristic of eczema, the first thing you need to do for timely and effective management is to get a diagnosis. You can visit your health care provider or physician for diagnosis. They will ask some questions about your symptoms, examine your skin, and go through your medical history for a conclusive diagnosis. You may also need some tests to rule out any other skin conditions or allergies.
One way of diagnosing eczema is by doing a patch test. Your doctor will perform a patch test by applying small amounts of different substances to the skin and covering the skin. Your skin will be examined for any reactions or signs of eczema during your visits for the next few days. It can help identify specific types of allergies that may be causing your eczema or atopic dermatitis.
What Causes Eczema?
To treat and manage eczema effectively, knowing what’s causing it is essential. Some of the factors known to cause eczema or atopic dermatitis are:
Immune System - An over-reactive immune system is one of the most notable factors that pave the way to the symptoms of eczema. It makes the body react to even minor irritants or allergens, which leads to inflammation.
Genetics - Another factor that can make you prone to having eczema or atopic dermatitis is your genetics. Having a family history of eczema or dermatitis, you’re at a higher risk of developing eczema. Moreover, if you have a history of hay fever, asthma, or allergies, you’re at an increased risk of having eczema.
Environmental Factors - Numerous elements in our surroundings can cause skin inflammation. These agents include air pollutants, harsh cleaning products, tobacco smoke, abrasive skincare products, extreme weather, and certain fabrics.¹
Stress - We all know how stress influences our hormonal balance and can make our acne breakouts worse by triggering inflammation in the body. In the same way, it can also cause or trigger eczema. Hence, your mental health may be causing your skin to flare up.
Hormonal Fluctuations - Changes in the levels of certain hormones are also associated with the development and aggravation of eczema. A lower level of estrogen can cause eczema on the skin. Topical products can help to relieve inflammation in such cases.
What Can Trigger Eczema?
Various factors can make your eczema worse or cause more flare-ups. The triggers of eczema can vary from person to person. Here are a few common culprits to watch out for and stay clear of:
Dry Skin - Dry skin is the number one trigger in making your eczema-ridden skin even worse. Dryness can make the skin feel and appear rough, scaly, and itchy, increasing the likelihood of eczema flare-ups. Also, you’re more likely to scratch dry skin, worsening your irritated skin. Therefore, keeping the skin deeply nourished and moisturized is essential to avoid inflammation, especially during dry weather.
Weather - Temperature changes play an important role in how your eczema-prone skin behaves. Almost all kinds of weather, including hot, cold, humid, and dry, especially when the seasons change, can impact your eczema. Take notes on the weather that affects your skin the most and take a preemptive approach to deal with the effects of that weather to prevent eczema flares.
Stress and Anxiety - As mentioned earlier, these factors can cause eczema. Unfortunately, they can also provoke your eczema symptoms and increase the chances of flare-ups. Cortisol is released when you’re stressed. This hormone can adversely affect the immune system, causing inflammatory responses in the skin. It’s essential to manage your mental health to help avoid these issues.
Irritants² -Plenty of products we use in our daily routines can irritate the skin. These include scented products, soaps, laundry detergents, metals, antibacterial topicals, shower gels, cigarette smoke, and formaldehyde.
Diet - For many people, the triggering factor can be the foods they add to their diet. Common eczema-provoking foods include eggs, nuts, wheat, and milk.³ Some ingredients in processed food items, like added sugar, gluten, and refined carbohydrates, can also trigger eczema.
Other Factors - Some common triggers of atopic dermatitis or eczema are fabrics (wool and polyester), chemicals in human sweat, and saliva or drooling, as it can dry out the skin, especially in babies and young children.
Skincare Routine for Eczema
If you’re striving to combat eczema, making some changes to your skincare regimen can make a huge difference in your skin condition. Some tips for building a specialized eczema skincare routine include:
Apply Moisturizer - To prevent flaking, itching, and irritation on the skin, the most crucial step of your skincare routine is to keep your skin moisturized. Dry skin can be the primary cause of eczema flare-ups in many cases. So, it’s crucial to follow a good skincare routine that helps moisturize your skin and lock in moisture throughout the day. The best time to apply a moisturizer to your face and body is after a shower or bath.
Bathing or Showering - Another step to suppress the annoying symptoms of eczema is to avoid using hot water while bathing or showering. Instead, use lukewarm water to avoid stripping your skin of its moisture and dry it out.
Also, don’t use harsh soaps or scrubs on your skin if you are prone to eczema flare-ups. Last but not least, apply a generous amount of moisturizer to your skin within a few minutes after having a bath or shower. This will lock in moisture and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier.
Identify and Avoid Triggers - Some ingredients in your skincare products can irritate your eczema and worsen your skin condition. An important part of your eczema skincare routine is recognizing those compounds and avoiding contact with them.
You can either search for known irritants or make a list of triggers causing your eczema flare-ups and avoid them in the future. It’s also important to note that sometimes the triggers don’t come from chemicals in your skincare products but the environmental conditions around you.
Avoid Irritating Ingredients - Many constituents of your skincare products can trigger eczema breakouts. To avoid these problems, read the product ingredient lists while buying your skincare products. For example, products containing AHAs and BHAs can make the skin sensitive and dry and should be avoided. Also, retinol can make your eczema worse. So, if you use retinol products to treat other skin problems, you should find alternatives.
Anyone suffering from eczema or atopic dermatitis knows the struggle of controlling and treating this skin condition. However, with proper care and some adjustments to your skincare regimen, you can manage it effectively.
Eczema triggers may not be the same for everyone, and the management plan may differ according to your specific skin needs. Once you have successfully identified the triggers of your eczema, you can take a precautionary approach to prevent the problem.
Moisturizing the skin is essential to help soothe the skin and prevent eczema flares. Furthermore, avoid irritants in your skincare and other everyday-use products. Get help from your skin specialist if you cannot identify the triggers or manage eczema.
- Lester-Coll, Gabby. (2019). ‘The Scary Side Effects of Air Pollution on Your Skin’, Coveteur, Accessed October 5, 2022. Available at: https://coveteur.com/2019/10/11/air-pollution-negative-skin-side-effects/
- Crawford, Stephanie. (2022). ’10 Common Skin Irritants’, How Stuff Works, Accessed October 5, 2022. Available at: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/medical/10-common-skin-irritants.htm
- Van Hare, Holly. (2017). ’10 things your skin is trying to tell you about your diet’, Insider, Accessed October 6, 2022. Available at: https://www.insider.com/things-your-skin-is-trying-to-tell-you-about-your-diet-2017-10