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Discovering Eczema Triggers: Stories from the Community

Three NEA community members tell how they use baths to manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups

Discovering Eczema Triggers: Stories from the Community

NEA community members share how they discovered what triggered their eczema.

Patch test revealed nickel allergy

Having eczema all my life, my eczema became unbearable at the age 24. At the time, I worked a stressful job and was in between health insurance plans.

Finally meeting with a dermatologist and undergoing a scratch patch test, I learned my eczema is caused by a severe nickel allergy. Not wearing much jewelry, my dermatologist informed me how many foods are high in nickel content and that eating these foods could be causing my acute eczema. Avoiding foods higher in nickel, I started the “low-nickel diet,” and within 4-6 weeks my eczema dramatically improved.

Some foods higher in nickel include soy, whole wheat, beans, seeds, nuts, oats, leafy greens, chocolate and more! My eczema flares up when I eat foods high in nickel, so I avoid eating those foods regularly. From time to time, I will eat salads or peanut butter and eat something high in iron or vitamin C to reduce my body’s absorption of the nickel.

Over time, I’ve also learned that the cookware we use to make food involves stainless steel which is also high in nickel.

Meet with either a dermatologist or allergist to determine if something you’re eating could be affecting your eczema. I wouldn’t suggest changing your diet unnecessarily as so many healthy foods are high in nickel.

Sensitivity to additive in tap water

rash on woman whose eczema trigger was chloramine

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. The photo shows the rashes on my back, and there were similar rashes on most of the rest of my body. Fortunately I discovered that the problem was chloramine, a mixture of ammonia and chlorine that is used to disinfect the tap water in many areas of the United States (including the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live). After I stopped using our water, my skin cleared up completely. I’m sure there are folks with similar problems who are not aware of this chemical and are suffering as a result. People can obtain more information from the web site www.chloramine.org. Thank you for publishing this; you may help solve a problem that for many is a mystery.

Quaternium was the culprit

Late in my life, I developed severe atopic dermatitis after a prolonged period of intense stress.

One of the main things I have found for me is that it’s important to avoid anything next to my skin made of latex or rubber of any sort. Also, I spend much time reading labels. Anything that has polyquaternium or quaternium of any sort is a trigger. Quaternium is a preservative and is in everything: eye drops, creams, soaps, shampoos, etc. I also wash any clothes I buy before I wear them, as most are processed with formaldehyde, which is related to quaternium.

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