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What's Causing My Eczema? 10 Common Triggers

What's Causing My Eczema? 10 Common Triggers

An estimated 31.6 million women, men, and children in the United States suffer from an inflammatory skin condition called eczema, which is characterized by scaly, rough, itchy patches. There are several different types of eczema:

Even if you inherited eczema from your parents, you can learn to manage flare-ups by avoiding your triggers. Of course, trying to determine what your individual triggers are can be frustrating and time consuming. 

Our expert allergist, Catherine Fuller, MD, has prepared this list of the most common triggers to help you whittle it down to match your symptom flares. You can also obtain a diagnosis and individualized treatment plan for your eczema at our office in West Los Angeles, California.

Do you know what triggers your eczema? Look through this list to find possible clues so you can remain comfortable and flare-free.

1. The weather

Not surprisingly, dry air can dry out your skin and increase your risk of a flare-up. But any kind of extreme weather may do the same.

Take extra care to stay moisturized and protected during very hot or cold days. Use sunscreen when you’re outdoors on sunny days, and be sure to wear sun-protective clothing.

During winter, protect yourself with proper gear outdoors, including a hat and scarf. Inside, turn down the thermostat to avoid overheating and drying, and be sure to wear plenty of moisturizer.

2. Pollen and mold

The most common allergens are also common triggers for eczema outbreaks. Keep track of the pollen count in your area so you can stay indoors when pollen is high.

If you can’t find specific triggers for your flares, but continue to be uncomfortable, mold may be part of the problem. Mold can be present in your home or office building. You may need to hire a mold-removal team to live mold-free at home.

3. Personal care and laundry products

Anything that touches your skin has the potential to cause an eczema flare. Look for personal care items formulated without perfumes or chemicals and those that are meant for sensitive skin.

Even laundry detergents should be mild and free of perfumes. Use fragrance-free detergents and dryer sheets. 

4. Your clothing and bedding fabrics

It doesn’t help to switch to mild laundry detergents if your clothing and sheets are made of skin-irritating fabrics. Avoid polyester and other synthetics. Natural wool is a common allergen that may make you break into a rash. Instead, look for organic fibers such as cotton, bamboo, and silk.  

5. Household products

Many items in your home that you use to keep surfaces clean and sanitary contain harsh chemicals, like bleach, that can cause an eczema flare-up. Try to buy eco-friendly, green products that don’t have irritating chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

6. Dust

Dust mites are a common allergen. Anything that can cause an allergic reaction may also cause an eczema outbreak. Clean and vacuum your living spaces regularly to remove dust and other types of dirt that can irritate your skin.

7. Certain metals

Nickel is a metal often found in costume jewelry, zippers, buttons, and even some eating utensils. If you wear jewelry, gold or surgical steel are your best, most hypoallergenic choices.

Pay attention to where your eczema occurs. If it’s around buttons or zippers on your clothes or areas where you wear jewelry, you may have a metal allergy.

8. Dyes and fragrances

No matter what you use — whether it’s a baby wipe or a temporary tattoo — check the ingredients to be sure they’re chemical free. Any type of dye, even those used in leather shoes and garments, could cause a flare.

9. Pets

As much as you love Fluffy or Fido, if you feel itchy or break out into hives after a cuddle session, you may be allergic to the dander in their fur. If you can’t avoid pets, consider immunotherapy or medication to help you manage symptoms

10. Certain foods

Even some foods trigger an allergic reaction that shows up on your skin. Dairy and peanuts are just two of the food allergies that are often associated with eczema.

Get tested

If you need more assistance in figuring out what exactly you’re allergic to, we offer allergy testing so you don’t have to guess about your triggers. We also offer immunotherapy to help you build resistance to triggers so you can live symptom-free. 

To schedule allergy testing or eczema treatment, call our friendly staff at 310-828-7978 or use our online appointment request tool.

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