Eczema is a chronic condition. This means that it will likely come back when triggered. When that happens, a flare up is said to have occurred.
It is not known as to what causes eczema. It is however known that some factors cause eczema flare ups. These are known as triggers. Triggers do not actually cause a condition. What they do is activate a dormant state of the condition. Knowing eczema triggers is an important step towards fighting the condition.
Since there are different types of eczema, pictures of eczema rash will help identify the particular type being dealt with. For example, pictures of atopic eczema in infants show that the condition mostly attacks the cheeks, while discoid eczema pictures show oval shaped skin patches mostly on the lower legs.
What causes eczema to flare up?
As to what causes eczema to flare up, substances that irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions are the common culprits. They include:
- Soaps – fragrance soaps contain chemical compounds that irritate sensitive skin. Some cause skin dryness, a major eczema trigger.
- Cleansers – like soaps, cleansers containing irritants will cause trauma to the skin and thus encourage eczema flare ups.
- Cosmetics – beauty products contain chemical-based preservatives that may act as allergens or irritants.
- Dust mite – fine dust particles trigger asthma in some people. Asthma is closely associated with atopic eczema.
- Cigarette smoke – the smoke produced by burning tobacco contains hundreds of harmful compounds. These compounds may end up irritating sensitive skin.
- Chlorinated water – chlorine is slightly acidic when added to water. Acids and alkalines are potential eczema triggers.
- Perfumes – like some creams, perfumes are preserved with chemical-based compounds. Sensitive skins may become irritated on contact with such compounds.
- Warm and humid weather – such weather conditions encourage a lot of moisture loss from the skin. Dry skin is prone to eczema flare-ups. Eczema flare ups are common during winter.
- Infections – some skin infections which cause trauma and skin dryness are potential triggers. Much the same can be said for diseases that compromise the immune system, including bacterial infections.
- Not using moisturizers – moisturizers keep the skin from drying. In their absence, eczema flare-ups are more likely.
- Long hot baths – a long hot bath strips off most of the natural skin oil meant to keep the skin hydrated.
- Abrasive or tight clothing – wool for example is known to irritate the skin. Tight clothing keeps the skin from breathing and encourages repeated friction with the skin. Poor choice of clothing will also encourage sweat accumulation. Sweat is an irritant if in contact with the skin for long.
Other causes of eczema flare ups
Experts associate eczema with family lines. Children born to parents with atopic eczema, hay fever or asthma are more likely to experience flares.
Diseases or factors that cause abnormalities in the functioning of the immune system are responsible for a number of eczema flares. This is commonly seen in allergic contact eczema cases.
Statistics show that children born to older women are more likely to develop atopic eczema during childhood. It is not known what causes this effect. There is also a higher risk of eczema flare ups in children and people living in urban areas. This is mostly attributed to the fact that urban environments are filled with more pollutants than rural areas.
Foods that flare up eczema
There has been a lot of debate concerning the link between eczema and our diet. Below are the known facts:
- Eczema is closely associated with allergic reactions. It is however not an allergic reaction itself.
- Food products do not cause eczema. They can however worsen the condition.
- Modifications in diets do not necessarily guarantee freedom from eczema flare ups. They can however reduce the frequency of outbreaks.
So, what are the foods that flare up eczema?
- Dairy products – they include cheese, yogurt and milk. Cow’s milk is considered more eczema flaring than goat’s or sheep’s milk.
- Eggs – eggs from geese or quails are better compared to chicken’s eggs when dealing with allergic reactions and eczema.
- Nuts – examples include peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and almond nuts.
- Gluten – gluten is the protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. Gluten free diet is recommended during treatment for eczema on arms.
- Acidic foods – acid foods such as citrus fruits cause irritation to sensitive skins. Much the same can be said about food products such as meat. Fruits and vegetables are less acidic compared to meat.
- Preservatives – preservatives are commonly used in processed and canned foods. They are chemical-based and potential eczema triggers.
- Sugary and processed foods – a lot of sugar in the body raises the levels of insulin. In turn, inflammation occurs, which can end up triggering eczema.
When in risk of developing eczema, increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet. You can also try elimination diet approach. This involves eliminating a certain food product from the diet. After a certain trial period, you will be able to determine if the food product is actually involved in triggering eczema.
Eczema flare treatment
When it comes to how to get rid of eczema flare ups, the following approaches can help:
Avoid long, hot and luxurious baths. Instead, take lukewarm water baths not lasting more than 15 minutes. Don’t take more than 2 baths in a day.
Always remember to wear a moisturizer after bath. Skip fragrance moisturizers at any cost.
Choose clothing not made of wool and synthetic fibers. Cotton is a much better choice. Remove abrasive things such as price tags and metal extensions.
Don’t scratch itchy and dry parts of your skin. Instead, apply and anti-itch cream.
Avoid prolonged exposure to hot or cold weather conditions. When in humid environments, wear a humidifier.
Avoid stress by going for therapy, massage, acupuncture, yoga and exercises. Does stress cause eczema? No, but flare-ups are more common and severe in times of mental and physical stress.
Keep your house free from dust. Avoid coming into contact with pollen. If highly allergic, avoid pets.
Skip cosmetic products with chemical-based compounds you may be sensitive or allergic to.
Avoid smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke. This is especially when dealing with eczema flare-ups in an infant.
Which is the best natural remedy for eczema?
There is no single best natural remedy for eczema. A number of them can be tried however. Results are not always consistent depending on individuals.
Aloe Vera, licorice, St. John’s wort, chamomile and oatmeal are included in most reviews for the best natural remedies for eczema.
Essential oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil help keep the skin hydrated. They can be used to prevent from eczema flares. Using coconut oil for eczema is known to protect from infection.
Flaxseeds and fish oil supplements contain loads of fatty acids. Fatty acids help boost immunity and also promote skin health.