How To Prevent Eczema Flare
The best way to prevent eczema flare-ups is to become familiar with your personal triggers so you can avoid any products, foods, or conditions that may cause eczema symptoms to flare up.
Some general tips include using mild, unscented soaps and developing a consistent bathing and moisturizing schedule.
Use moisturizers that work for you, especially on eczema-prone skin and areas of the body. For best results for long-term eczema, be sure to always use medications as prescribed.
When the weather changes and the air becomes more dry and cold, it can also be helpful to wear gloves to keep skin moisturized and prevent flare-ups.
Another good way to combat eczema flare-ups is to address stress, which is a common trigger.
Some wellness practices and systems, including yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation, have been shown to help manage emotional stress, as well as the nervous system in general.
Acupressure and massage can also help relieve symptoms and keep the general nervous system in check and inflammation at bay.
Things That May Make Your Eczema Worse
Peoples life with eczema can be challenging. It is a chronic and recurring inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by inflamed skin patches that are super itchy, dry, and scaly. This may lead to leakage of clear fluid when you scratch it which in turn causes more itching.
Eczema is linked to an overactive immune system that changes the structure and function of the skin making it more itchy, sensitive, and vulnerable to irritants.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema which was once considered a malady of childhood as many kids would outgrow. However, much evidence supports that its a lifelong illness, and there may be more adult-onset cases than the researchers previously thought.
Even though there are promising eczema treatments available, atopic dermatitis can flare up over and over again with certain triggers making it worse.
Here are some of the common culprits that can exacerbate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Eczema Coping Tips Avoid Changes In Temperature
Abrupt temperature and humidity changes can sometimes irritate the skin for example, going in and out of air-conditioned buildings on hot days or heated buildings on cold days.Hard physical activity or exercise that makes you sweat heavily can also trigger the itch of eczema.Suggestions include:
- In winter, dont overheat your house. Dress warmly when going outdoors and remove the extra layers as soon as you return.
- In summer, dont over cool your house. Air conditioners can dry out the air and irritate your skin.
- Avoid hard physical activity in hot weather. For example, do your gardening first thing in the morning, or in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Atopic Eczema
The main symptom is itch. Scratching in response to itch may cause many of the changes seen on the skin. Itch can be severe enough to interfere with sleep, causing tiredness and irritability. Typically AE goes through phases of being severe, then less severe, and then gets worse again. Sometimes a flare up can be due to the reasons outlined below, but often no cause can be identified.
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Use An Air Purifier To Battle Environmental Triggers
Consider buying an air purifier for your home to help remove dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. When inhaled, these air particles can drive allergic reactions in the skin, explains Dr. Zeichner, adding that more research is needed to prove that air purifiers truly benefit people who have eczema. Zeichner recommends opting for a HEPA purifier with a carbon filter for added protection.
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Why Is My Eczema Getting Worse
Eczema can get worse due to external factors such as changes in the weather or exposure to allergens, which can inflame the skin. Stress, lack of sleep, hormonal fluctuations specifically in the days after ovulation and before the period, and even age can all impact eczema-prone skin, causing it to become drier and itchier.
Eczema In Hot Humid Weather
For some people with eczema, warm, sunny, and humid weather brings relief. Others find that the hot weather triggers prickly heat and a frenzy of scratching. To ease symptoms, try these tips:
Donât get too sweaty. Sweating dries out your skin, and the salt in sweat can sting and irritate it. So try to stay cool. Take it easy on hot days and stick to indoor activities. Use air conditioning or a fan if you need one.
Wear soft, breathable clothing. Keep your skin cool by staying away from nylon, wool, rough linen, or any fabric thatâs stiff or itchy. Generally, cotton is best.
Know how the sun affects you. Sunlight can be a salve for eczema. In fact, people with severe cases can benefit from ultraviolet ray treatments. But others find that sunlight is a trigger. If youâre one of them, shield yourself with clothes and a hat.
Prepare before you swim. Chlorine in pools or the salt in seawater can be irritating for some people with eczema. Apply a layer of lotion before you dive in to see if it helps.
Rinse off possible triggers. Take a quick, cool shower to soothe your skin and wash away sweat, chlorine, salt water, pollen, or other triggers. Gently pat yourself dry and apply lotion right away.
Watch the sprays and lotions. Sunscreens and bug sprays can have chemicals that trigger symptoms. Opt for sunscreens that physically block the ultraviolet rays with the minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Test a sample on your arm before you slather it all over your body.
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What Else Should I Know
If you live with eczema, tune in to what triggers it and how to manage it. For example, if you find that some types of makeup irritate your skin, ask a dermatologist to recommend brands that are less likely to do so.
Your self-esteem doesn’t have to suffer because you have eczema, and neither does your social life! Getting involved in your school and extracurricular activities can be a great way to get your mind off the itch.
Don’t forget to exercise. It’s a great way to blow off stress try walking, bike riding, swimming, or another sport that keeps your skin cool and dry while you work out.
Using Relaxation To Manage Eczema Stress
When it comes to relaxation and self-care, what works for one person might not work for another. Thankfully there are many options to explore. Practice deep breathing while listening to soothing music or nature sounds. Download a guided meditation app. Enroll in a yoga or tai chi class. Allot a certain amount of time each day to reading a book or cuddling with your pet. Make it a daily habit to stroll along a nature trail. Distract your mind from negative thinking with creative activities to do with your hands, such as writing, painting, knitting, baking or playing video games or chess.
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How To Stay Safe
The best way to stay safe with eczema during the pandemic is to follow public health guidance to lower the risk of catching COVID-19:
- Continue your eczema medication as prescribed.
- Take steps to avoid and manage flares during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Support your health by reviewing eczema care basics.
- Take steps to reduce stress, manage itching, and improve your sleep hygiene.
- Wash your hands regularly, avoid close contact with others, and socially distance where possible. You can rewash your hands with your usual emollient to protect the skin and use moisturizer after washing hands and when the skin feels dry, cracked, or sore.
- When washing your hands, wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol. Apply moisturizer to your hands once hand sanitizer is dry if it is causing our eczema to worsen.
- Wear a face mask in public settings and where social distancing is not possible. Once you are fully vaccinated, wearing a face mask is optional.
- Avoid crowded situations.
- Practice self-monitoring.
- Avoid contact with people who are unwell.
- If someone in your home becomes unwell, follow medical guidance and isolation advice to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your home.
Increased Stress Is Triggering Eczema Flares Too
Theres no denying it: Stress is the root of many of our health problems, and eczema is no exception. When we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called cortisol, Skyler Stein, president of the skincare brand Gladskin USA, tells Verywell. When we are under long periods of stresslike we are now during the pandemicwe release an excessive amount of cortisol that can cause too much inflammation in the body.
The result, he says, often triggers an itchy and uncomfortable eczema flare up.
One study also suggests stress makes it harder for the skin to recover from irritation and skin damage, making eczema outbreaks last longer in a seemingly endless stressful cycle.
The anxiety that comes along with the uncertainty of the pandemic has created a stressful mental environment for many people. Stress and worry can cause someone with eczema to have a reaction either inside or outside the body, says Chelsea Lewis, founder of My Mommy Wisdom, a Black-owned baby goods company. My Mommy Wisdom makes an eczema relief moisturizer designed specifically for Black women and children, who tend to have more severe eczema because it is harder to detect on darker pigmented skin.
Right now, Lewis suspects many eczema sufferers are in that situation: stressing about how their life and finances will be impacted by COVID-19 and seeing their body flaring up because of the stress.
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A Lack Of Sleep Can Affect Eczema
A lack of sleep can affect eczema because it increases levels of inflammation in the body and affects how well the immune system copes. Poor sleep has also been linked to increased skin sensitivity and slower rates of wound repair.
Simple tips that may help improve sleep and therefore eczema symptoms:
- Establish a sleep routine, go to bed at the same time every night.
- Turn off screens an hour before bed and do something restful instead like reading or listening to music.
The Weather Can Worsen Eczema
Dry, windy, cold weather can aggravate eczema because it dries out the skin, thus making it itchier. Unfortunately, studies have also found that humid, warm climates with lots of sun exposure aren’t any better for controlling eczema symptoms. It’s probably safe to assume that it’s all about trying to avoid extreme weather conditions.
Many of us will not be able to choose the weather we have to live in, but we may be able to take sensible measures to protect the skin in harsh weather.
Simple tips that may help protect eczema from the weather:
- Stop the skin from drying out in cold, windy weather by keeping it well-moisturised. Carry a good cream with you everywhere and use it frequently.
- Cover up to protect the skin from harmful exposure to sun, wind or frost. Ideally, clothing should be comfortable and breathable. Natural fibres like linen and cotton may therefore suit eczema better than sweaty, man-made nylons and polyesters. Wool, although natural, may be irritating and scratchy.
- In humid, warm weather, try to wash frequently to remove sweat and residues from the skin, as they can block the skin and inhibit the skin’s sweating ability.
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What Are The Causes Of Eczema
Many factors can contribute to eczema, including an interaction between your environment and your genes. When an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body switches on the immune system, it produces inflammation, or a flare-up, on the surface of the skin. This inflammation causes the symptoms common to most types of eczema. Creases of the skin, especially the flexural areas behind the knees, elbows, lower legs and other areas of skin that rub against each other can lead to irritation. There is also a potential genetic component to eczema that includes a protein called filaggrin that helps maintain moisture in your skin a filaggrin deficiency can lead to drier, itchier skin.
Many common household items are also potential environmental irritants and can cause allergic reactions leading to an eczema flare. Additional common triggers of eczema may include:
- extended exposure to dry air, extreme heat or cold
- some types of soap, shampoo, bubble bath, body wash, facial cleansers
- laundry detergents and fabric softeners with chemical additives
- certain fabrics like wool or polyester in clothing and sheets
- surface cleaners and disinfectants
- natural liquids like the juice from fruit, vegetables and meats
- fragrances in candles
How To Minimise A Healing Crisis
Rest You may feel excessively lethargic during this time so listen to your body and rest. Your body is working hard to remove chemicals and repair the skin from the inside out. Dont worry, positive changes are taking place. It takes about 28 days for the new skin cells to reach the surface of your skin so rest as much as you need to during this time. Its best to go to bed before 9pm, if possible, and stay away from electronic devides a couple of hours before bed to help improve sleep. Calcium Matrix PM can also help with improving sleep quality.
Drink lots of filtered water Filtered water, spring water and low-salicylate juices , are your best choices. These low-salicylate liquids will assist with flushing out toxins. Salicylates are food chemicals which can irritate the stomach lining and burden an over-burdened liver, so for a period of about 12-weeks they shouldbe limited .
During this time, avoid drinking coffee and all teas, even herbal teas as they can over-stimulate Phase 1 liver detoxification reactions, and they are rich sources of salicylates. If you are one of the 60-70% of eczema sufferers who are sensitive to salicylates then teas will make you itchier. Eczema sufferers are often sensitive to grasses and flowers so herbal teas should be avoided if you want the healing crisis to subside quickly.
Other high fibre foods include rolled/wholegrain oats, lentils, chick peas, beans , and oatbran.
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Emollients For Treating Eczema
Emollient creams add moisture to the skin. Apply moisturisers each day to clean, dry skin. It is especially important to moisturise after showering and bathing, and when living or working in an air-conditioned or heated environment. You may need to try several different brands until you find the emollient that works best for you. Ask your doctor, dermatologist or pharmacist for advice.
Eczema In Cold Dry Weather
Winter air can be hard on your skin, drying it out and triggering an eczema flare-up. Hereâs what you can do:
Keep showers tepid. Itâs especially hard in the winter, but you always need to use lukewarm water in the shower or bath. Hot water can trigger symptoms, especially if youâre changing temperatures quickly — like coming inside from shoveling snow and hopping into a hot bath.
Moisturize! You should already be doing it daily — ideally right after you bathe — year round. But itâs especially important when the weather is cold. Make sure you apply the lotion your doctor recommends on any body parts that might be exposed to cold air, like your face and hands. Think of lotion as an extra barrier you need to help lock in moisture and protect your skin.
Guard against itchy clothes. Your cozy wool sweater can be an eczema trigger. If you do wear wool, use a cotton shirt underneath to cover your skin. Wear cotton gloves under your winter gloves or mittens.
Donât overheat. When youâre bundled up in a heavy coat, itâs easy to break out in an itchy sweat. Wear layers, and take them off and put them on as needed to stay comfortable.
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Know Your Childs Eczema Triggers
Regardless of the type of eczema your child has, there are certain things and environmental conditions that make it suddenly appear where it wasnt before or make a relatively calm patch suddenly worse. These are called flare-ups.
Things that trigger eczema flare-ups are not the same for everyone, but the most common are stressful situations, dry air, and sweat. Keep in mind that your childs triggers may change over the years, so be on the lookout for new challenges as they grow. Here are some triggers to watch for:
When To Talk With Your Dermatologist
If you are having trouble figuring out whether your eczema flare ups are caused by stress or something else, make a call to your dermatologist for help and guidance.
Thanks to telemedicine, you can avoid a trip to the doctors office or hospital and simply take photographs of the areas of concern for discussion during your video visit.
Your dermatologist can also give you ideas for coping with stress in healthy ways such as moderate exercise, support groups, breathing exercises, and therapy.
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How Is Eczema Treated What Medications Are Used
Treating eczema can be difficult if the cause is something you cant control, like genetics. Fortunately, you may have some influence over your environment and stress levels. Do your best to figure out what triggers or worsens your eczema, and then avoid it. The goal is to reduce itching and discomfort and prevent infection and additional flare-ups.
Consider these treatment tips:
If your child has skin problems, such as eczema, you can:
- Avoid long, hot baths, which can dry the skin. Use lukewarm water instead and give your child sponge baths.
- Apply lotion immediately after bathing while the skin is still moist. This will help trap moisture in the skin.
- Keep the room temperature as regular as possible. Changes in room temperature and humidity can dry the skin.
- Keep your child dressed in cotton. Wool, silk and manmade fabrics such as polyester can irritate the skin.
- Use mild laundry soap and make sure that clothes are well rinsed.
- Watch for skin infections. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice an infection.
- Help them avoid rubbing or scratching the rash.
- Use moisturizers several times daily. In infants with eczema, moisturizing on a regular basis is extremely helpful.
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