If you’ve ever suffered from eczema, you already know you’ll do almost anything to stop the itch. While it’s a chronic condition with no known cure, there are ways to keep your skin calm and comfortable. Read on to learn how to prevent eczema flare-ups naturally.
Identify and avoid triggers.
According to Dr. Chris Crawford, board-certified dermatologist at Dallas Associated Dermatologists, reducing the triggers that you know cause your eczema outbreaks can
be a huge help in preventing one from occurring.
The first step is to identify what causes your flare-ups. Some common triggers include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Certain foods like dairy, gluten (white flour products), nightshades (which include peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant), peanuts, and ultra-processed packaged meals and snacks
As far as food triggers go, you may need to do an elimination diet. By temporarily removing the potential culprits from your diet and then reintroducing them one at a time, you can determine which foods may be causing your flare-ups.
Once you’ve pinpointed your triggers, avoid them as much as possible to prevent and manage future outbreaks.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
Following a healthy diet can also be helpful in managing eczema, since it’s an inflammatory condition.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all diet for eczema, a general guideline is to steer clear of foods that aggravate your symptoms. And focus on a diet rich in:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil
- Lean proteins like chicken and turkey
Studies show that certain plant compounds, called flavonoids, play a major role in fighting inflammation. Reducing inflammation throughout your body can improve the overall health of your skin and prevent eczema outbreaks.
Some fruits and vegetables that are especially high in flavonoids include:
Take frequent showers.
Contrary to popular belief, taking frequent showers isn’t bad for eczema sufferers. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Showering can help keep your skin hydrated.
Just be sure to use a moisturizing, soap-free cleanser that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS creates a nice lather, but it strips your skin of its natural oils, which can lead to eczema flare-ups.
And always shower in lukewarm or cool water. Hot water can also dry out and irritate eczema-prone skin.
Keeping your skin moisturized is key to preventing eczema flare-ups. Apply a hypoallergenic lotion immediately after showering when your skin is damp, and reapply as needed throughout the day.
For extra skin protection, wear gloves while doing household chores–especially when using cleaning products. For a bonus moisturizing effect, apply lotion before putting on the gloves.
While it’s easier said than done, avoiding scratching is crucial for managing eczema. Scratching might feel relieving in the moment, but it can cause red, painful skin that might crack and bleed.
Broken skin not only increases your risk of infection but also allows irritants like dust and pet dander to penetrate the skin barrier, potentially worsening eczema symptoms.
Manage your stress levels.
Excessive stress is a known trigger for eczema flare-ups. It can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and immune response, leading to inflammation and worse eczema symptoms.
To keep stress at bay and reduce your risk of outbreaks, try using proven relaxation techniques–whether through meditation, yoga, physical exercise, or simply unwinding with a good book. Taking steps to reduce stress is a proactive step in managing your eczema.
Be careful with personal care products.
Many hair and body products contain ingredients that can exacerbate eczema.
Always test new products on a small area of your skin before applying all over. If there’s no reaction within 24 hours, they’re likely okay to use. But to be on the safe side, avoid heavily fragranced products.
Read ingredient lists carefully, and be mindful of certain ones known to irritate eczema-prone skin:
- Urea and retinoids, commonly found in anti-aging creams and exfoliants
- Propylene glycol, used as a moisturizer
- Cocamidopropyl betaine, a foaming agent
- Ethanol or alcohol, which can dry out the skin further
- Paraphenylenediamine, a dye often found in hair and nail care products, as well as temporary tattoos
High temperatures and excessive humidity are environmental factors known to trigger eczema flare-ups. So maintaining a cool, dry environment at home is essential.
Try to limit your exposure to heat outdoors and keep your living spaces–especially your bedroom–cool and comfortable. Using light, breathable cotton sheets can help, as well.
Also, do your best to avoid overheating during exercise, and change out of sweaty clothes promptly. Continuing to wear damp work-out gear after working out could exacerbate your eczema symptoms.
See your dermatologist.
Regular visits with your dermatologist are key to managing your eczema. While the above tips can help prevent outbreaks, a medical expert’s guidance and treatment plan will provide the best care for your condition, leading to calmer, more comfortable skin.
Dietary Protein Intake and Associated Risks for Atopic Dermatitis, Intrinsic Eczema, and Allergic Sensitization among Young Chinese Adults in Singapore/Malaysia: Key Findings from a Cross-sectional Study – PMC