Eczema is a health condition of the skin characterized by dry, itchy, and red patches. This condition damages the skin barrier function, making it more susceptible to dryness and infection.
Eczema patients are sensitive to certain irritants such as chemicals, allergens, high temperatures, and even emotions and stress. It’s, therefore, necessary to know which activities trigger eczema flare-ups so you can avoid or minimize their impact on your eczema-prone skin.
The effect of these activities and triggers will often vary for each person, so it’s best to monitor your reaction and inform your dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Below are three activities you should avoid when you have eczema.
- Getting Involved in Stress-causing Activities
When managing your eczema condition, you want to avoid any activity that can trigger the body’s stress hormones. Anxiety & stress are some of the known triggers that worsen eczema. High amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, for instance, lead to inflammation and causes the skin to become abnormally oily. This triggers an eczema outbreak.
To effectively manage your eczema condition, you want to avoid stress-related activities such as gambling and alcohol use. Other activities that cause frustration, anger, or embarrassment may also worsen flushing and itching. Also, avoid setting high expectations on your day-to-day chores, as this can raise stress levels. Instead, learn some coping mechanisms and relaxation skills.
Regular exercise and seeking help from friends and healthcare professionals can help put your stress levels under control, which in turn aid with eczema management. Remember, topical treatments can only go so far. Your dermatologist may recommend other treatment options such as stress management and support programs or/and advanced atopic dermatitis treatments.
- Working Under Extreme Temperature or Humid Conditions
Extreme humidity and temperatures often worsen skin irritation for people with eczema. Working in direct sunlight or scorching environments causes sweating, which worsens itching and discomfort. It’s therefore advisable to avoid hot temperatures and to reduce sweating as much as possible.
This could mean sticking to a shade when working outside or staying indoors in a well-ventilated and air-conditioned environment. Similarly, low humidity causes the skin to lose water and can worsen eczema flare-ups. You also want to drink enough water and use a mineral sunscreen, which is more moisturizing and without chemicals. After a physical exercise, clean up as soon as possible and change the sweaty or wet clothing.
- Cleaning Using Chemical Irritants
Some cleaning detergents are allergens and could trigger itching, burning, or redness of the skin. This is particularly true for people with eczema. Ingredients in skin care products such as soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers could also worsen eczema symptoms. A rule of thumb is to use dye-free and fragrance-free liquid detergents and bathing soaps.
Before trying out a cleaning product, check the ingredients to ensure it has no chemical irritants. An expert dermatologist may recommend patch testing to identify which products you frequently use cause allergic skin reactions.
It’s also advisable to rinse off your entire body after you go swimming. This is because the salt in ocean water or the chemicals in chlorinated pools can worsen your sensitive skin. If there’s no shower, carry a spray bottle with water and use it to rinse off immediately.
The Bottom Line
Eczema is a chronic condition that can affect your physical and mental health if not properly managed. And while there’s no cure for eczema, this doesn’t mean the rashes and flares cannot be controlled. Some advanced treatment options, such as Adbry, an injection drug used to treat moderate-to-severe eczema, have shown promising results with most patients. The latter is often used when topical therapies are ineffective on their own or when the patient cannot use other treatments due to health reasons.
If you are struggling with eczema, you can better manage the condition by avoiding the three activities highlighted above. You should also contact a dermatologist or expert medical professional for diagnosis and guidance.