According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans have some form of eczema. That represents about 10 percent of the population. This skin condition can be frustrating and can cause discomfort, pain and self-consciousness.
It can even prevent you from doing activities you love or spending more time with people you care about. The good news is that in many cases, you can take steps to prevent flare-ups. Here are five common culprits to watch for.
Many everyday products can irritate the skin and cause flare-ups. While a full list of potential triggers would be extensive, here are some of the irritants most commonly responsible for exacerbating eczema:
- Soaps and household cleaners (this includes body wash, laundry soap, dish soap and hand soap)
- Products with strong fragrances
- Certain fabrics (most commonly polyester and wool)
- Cigarette smoke
- Antibacterial ointments
- Baby wipes and other personal care products containing certain antibacterial ingredients
- Lotions and shampoos formulated with Cocamidopropyl betaine
- Formaldehyde, which is often found in household disinfectants, glues and adhesives
2. Dry Skin
Dry skin often leads to scaliness, rough patches and brittleness that can cause flare-ups. Keeping skin moisturized is important for everyone, but especially so for people who suffer from eczema. Choose your moisturizer carefully, though, as some products can irritate sensitive skin and even promote new flare-ups. The best prevention is to ensure your skin doesn’t become too dry. If you aren’t sure which moisturizing products are safe to use with eczema, talk to your dermatologist.
Viruses and bacteria can cause your skin to become infected, worsening your eczema. Staph infections are a fairly common cause of flare-ups. The herpes virus (which causes cold sores and fever blisters) and certain types of fungi can also cause infections that can affect your skin condition. If you notice any symptoms of an infection, visit your dermatologist for treatment right away.
The same allergens that can cause people to sneeze or have watery eyes can also cause a flare-up. Dust mites and pet dander are some of the allergens most likely to do this, along with mold and seasonal pollen. Take steps to minimize the allergens inside your home, and be aware of which allergens are more likely to trigger a flare-up for you.
For some people, emotional stress can trigger a flare-up. There’s still a lot of research to be done before we’ll fully understand how stress and skin conditions are connected. What we do know is that it’s best to avoid triggers that cause stress whenever possible.
Unfortunately, having a skin condition can cause feelings of stress for many people, which can create a cycle of flare-ups. Talk to your dermatologist about how stress could be a factor in triggering your flare-ups.
To help minimize flare-ups, schedule an appointment with Georgia Dermatology Partners. Our physicians can guide you through the process of managing this frustrating skin condition all year long.