Key causes of eczema and how to prevent them

What Causes Eczema?

Uncovering the key triggers and causes of eczema, with guidance on how to treat and prevent future bouts of eczema, so you can enjoy itch-free, healthy skin.

February 8, 2018

Eczema is irritating, painful and misunderstood, so what actually causes eczema?

Eczema is not an allergic reaction as generally believed, nor is it due to diet, but in fact, it is caused by a lack of filaggrin, the filament aggregating protein in the skin.

This protein determines the shape of the skin cells, which means that when it is lacking they struggle to fit neatly together like a jigsaw, instead there are gaps in the skin barrier, which makes the skin leaky. For some people, their body will catch up and will produce more filaggrin as they get older, while for others they have a significant lack of filaggrin for life.

Aside from lack of filaggrin, there are factors that enhance your chances of developing eczema such as your genetic makeup. Unfortunately, you’re much more likely to develop eczema if your relatives have suffered from the disease.

Skin’s Microflora:
Other factors to consider is your skin’s microflora, just like your digestive system, your skin has a natural skin microflora, made up of good bacteria (like probiotics), which prevent the build up of bad bacteria. When the balance of good bacteria on your skin is lost, your immune system reacts with red, itchy inflamed skin. Without the good bacteria, your skin is vulnerable to infection, which sets you up for a vicious cycle of sleep loss and itchy discomfort, scratching, infections and further inflammation.

Eczema Triggers

Now we have a better idea of what may be causing your eczema, let’s look into key internal and external triggers. We’ve outlined some the key triggers for eczema and itchy dry skin below, along with a handy list of preventative measures to take, so you can finally be on your way to enjoying healthy itch-free skin.

1. Irritants

There are many things that can irritate your skin, triggering eczema.

Common offenders include:

  • Fragrances.
  • Smoke from cigarettes.
  • Fungal spores
  • Household products and cosmetics.

Avoid triggers by:

  • Establishing potential offenders and removing them from the household.
  • Stick to gentle, fragrant-free products and ensure to check those labels before buying. Eco products tend to be less abrasive on the skin and are better for the environment. Win win!


2. Dry Skin

Dry or scaly skin is a trigger of eczema as can cause or worsen symptoms of eczema.  When the skin is dry it’s more susceptible to a flare up because the skin’s natural defense barrier is weakened.

Avoid triggers by:

  •  Moisturising with specially formulated eczema cream.
  •  Avoiding hot baths or showers especially for prolonged sessions.


3. Stress 

Unfortunately stress has been known to trigger, worsen and pro-long eczema.

Avoid triggers by:

  •  Taking time in your day to relax and clear your head.
  •  Consider meditation or gentle exercise such as taking a walk.
  •  Remember to be patient, your skin takes time to adjust to new routines.
  •  Get plenty of sleep (7-8 hours each night), this will help you to feel rejuvenated meaning you’ll be able to take on challenges with a better frame of mind.


4. Exercise and Sweating

Sweating and / or prickly heat from exercise can be irritating to your skin.

Avoid triggers by:

  •  Moisturising before and after exercise to create a protective shield.
  •  Staying hydrated to ensure your skin barrier is not weakened.
  •  Taking breaks when needed and use cooling towels if irritation occurs, this can be incorporate into water breaks.


5. Hormones

Particularly common amongst women (especially those who are pregnant or pre-menstrual), changes in hormones can trigger irritating bouts of eczema.

Avoid triggers by:

  •  Speaking to your doctor about how to balance out your hormones.
  •  Treating hormonal skin with a reliable natural eczema product.


6. Climate & Environment

The atmosphere you live in can play a large part in how your skin reacts.

Just as the sun can dry out your skin in the summer from dry air, burning or over-exposure; the raw cold can have equally drying effects in the winter (especially if combined with the contrast of heated indoor living). The humidity or dryness of your environment can also be a trigger.

Avoid triggers by:

  • (Warm weather) Taking in Vitamin D from the sun and enjoying sea water swims, however don’t overdo it and be sure to wear a gentle, fragrant free sun cream
  • Only sleeping in 100 per cent cotton nightwear and sheets to avoid sweating. Heated blankets should also be avoided.
  • Consider investing in a humidifier (for overly dry rooms) or de-humidifier (for overly humid rooms) to create the ideal environment for your skin.
  • Ensuring your house is well ventilated.
  • Ensure your home is free from mould which can cause asthma and eczema,
  • (Cold weather) Taking a tepid bath followed by cream liberally patted onto the skin. For more information about bathing techniques click here

7. Allergens

A good reason to keep you house cleaning in check is to avoid any triggers from domestic allergy factors such as dust, pet hair and mold.

It’s also wise to be aware that pollen is a common trigger for eczema flare ups.

Avoid triggers by:

  • Keeping on top of the dusting.
  • Immediately treating any mould in your home.
  • Regularly vacuuming up your pets shed hair.

Do not overclean – removal of the good bacteria by overcleaning and using anti-bacterial sprays in your home will result in a build-up of allergens and potentially bad bacteria. Use a natural cleaning spray.


8. Infections 

Skin Infections can really worsen eczema, some of the most common culprits include ringworm, athletes foot, herpes and cold sores.

Avoid triggers by:

  • Getting enough rest to fight off potential infections along with a healthy diet.
  • Ensuring good general personal hygiene.
  • Seeking treatment quickly if any skin conditions and diseases arise.


Signs and symptoms

There are many different signs and symptoms of eczema to look out for, this can be differentiated by age groups­.

Symptoms in Adults:

  • Rashes tend to spread across much of the body but especially the elbows, neck and knees.
  • Rashes causing dry irritated skin.
  • Scale-like rashes.

Children – Puberty:

  • Common areas are found in creases such as the elbows or knees, as well as neck, wrists, ankles and the crease between buttock and legs.
  • Bumpy rashes dark/light in colour
  • In some areas a constant itch can occur.

Babies and toddlers:

  • Extreme itchiness from rashes usually found on the scalp and cheeks. Some rashes can even leak fluid.

More information on age-specific eczema can be explored here.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to note that though most people suffer from Atopic Dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) there are actually many different types of eczemaThe best way to identify what type you’re suffering with is to meet with your doctor. You may even be suffering from a combination. Once you know this, you can tailor your plan of action against triggers and what treatment to seek out.

While eczema isn’t curable there are many ways to drastically reduce symptoms, most of which we have explored above. Being aware of potential triggers as well as treating existing eczema with a reliable product is key to keeping eczema under control.

Dr Iona Weir, an expert in plant, microbiology, medical and biotechnology, has created an all-natural cream, free from steroids and other chemicals. Made from natural food-grade ingredients, it’s so non-toxic that it’s safe to use on anyone including babies and animals.

Atopis works in synergy with your immune system, so you can stop reacting to allergens and those frustrating environmental triggers mentioned earlier.

Within two weeks of use, this potent, all-natural therapy reverses the cell damage, and hydrates and restores the skin so the itching stops and the healing begins.                                                 

Learn more about our story by clicking here.

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