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What Is Triggering Your Eczema?

Aug 17, 2007
Eczema is a skin disease characterized by inflammation, itching, redness, cracking, dryness, and sometime lesions.

In mild flare ups, eczema is irritating at best and during severe flare ups, it can be both extremely itchy and painful. Complications can arise that are potentially life threatening, so care to prevent and lesson flare up is very important to you. The first thing you can do to care for your eczema and reduce flare up is to learn your own triggers.

Every eczema patient is different, so what may trigger one persons flare up will not necessarily cause yours. Through a little detective work, you can learn your particular triggers so that you may avoid them. These eczema triggers come in a variety of forms. Some of the more common triggers include: allergens, irritants, extreme temperatures, humidity levels, and stress.

Food allergens may be the culprits, so keeping a food/symptom diary is a good idea. Although any food can be a culprit, more common food allergens are milk, sugar, and wheat, keep in mind that almost all of the bread you buy if made with wheat flour. White bread is simply bleached wheat flour.

Allergens may also be any airborne allergens that you are sensitive to, since Atopic Dermatitis patients are usually prone to or have family who is prone to hay fever and/or asthma, allergens play a large part in the eczema patient set of triggers as a general rule.

The most common allergen triggers are pollen, dog dander, cat hair, and dust. With cat hair, it is actually usually the saliva of the cat that people are allergic to, but the cat licks the fur, spreading the proteins in the saliva to the fur, making people think that the fur is the culprit.

Like food allergies, a diary can be kept, listing potential suspect contact and symptom manifestation. It may help you to have an allergy test done, but allergy shots may actually worsen the eczema, rather than help your body become accustomed to the allergies (which is how the shots work in patients who do not have atopic dermatitis).

Allergy testing should be done as a way to determine what things you should avoid. If you determine that allergens are triggering your eczema, you may need to begin a prescription antihistamine.

Irritants include all kinds of man made chemicals. The most common eczema triggers are laundry chemicals with fragrance and/or dyes, soaps, and household cleaning chemicals. Switching to fragrance and dye free laundry agents and mild soap may help. When using household cleaning supplies, wear protective gloves and clean for only short periods at a time.

Latex (or rubber) glove may also be an irritant, so a cotton glove worn under the latex glove may help you. Clothing that scratches skin or holds in excess heat can also be an irritant. Cotton clothing is best for eczema sufferers.

Extreme temperatures affect eczema in different ways. The winter cold is drier than warmer months, so between the cold and the lack of normal humidity levels, your eczema usually gives you more trouble. Moisturizing is very important in this time, since you cannot change environmental conditions.

Humidifiers may or may not help, the subject is controversial. Likewise, extreme heat and humidity affects eczema in its own way, usually by making you perspire, which acts as an irritant. Whether perspiring from outside temperatures or from exercise, bathe as soon as you can and apply a good cream or petroleum jelly based moisturizer to wet skin. Keeping the skin clean and moisturized will help keep irritation from heat to a minimum.

Stress levels are often found to be factors. During times of high stress, patients often report eczema flare ups. Learning to recognize and control your stress level can be considerably helpful with both your eczema and your day to day life. Having a good support network is a number one rule in stress reduction, visiting with a psychologist will benefit you as well.

The counselor will be able to teach you to recognize stress triggers and learn relaxation techniques to help you remain closer to a peaceful state during stress. Often people with severe eczema will be depressed, so your counselor may suggest an anti depressant to help through rough times.

Studies have shown definite links between AD patients and the inability to adequately express their inner turmoil, meaning that the stress builds without release. Counselors relaxation techniques and stress management tips can drastically improve this for you. Researchers are still trying to determine the link between stress levels and immune reaction in the skin.
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