Get the tools and support you need to best manage your eczema

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Atopic dermatitis: all in the family?

Children who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis (AD), asthma or hay fever, are far more likely to develop eczema.

  • Learn about the “atopic triad,” and what it has to do with your child’s chances of developing atopic dermatitis (AD)
  • Get the facts on triggers like dry skin, stress, allergens and sweating and what you can do to help manage them
  • Discover what pests like dust mites may have to do with your flare-ups
  • Understand the powerful mind-body connection and how stress can cause your symptoms to worsen

What causes eczema to get better or worse?

There are some everyday elements in your surroundings that might make you or your child’s eczema flare up, or get worse. These are called “triggers.”

Knowing your triggers will help you keep your symptoms under control. The most important thing to remember is that eczema is different for everyone. The symptoms you have may not look the same on you as they do on another adult, or on your child. You or your child may experience certain symptoms at particular times of the year and/or on different parts of the body.

Some of the most common eczema triggers:

Dry skin

When your skin gets too dry, it can easily become brittle, scaly, rough, or tight, which can lead to an eczema flare up.

Irritants

There are everyday products and even natural substances that can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red. These could be products that you use on your body or in your home — hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants. Even some natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables, or meats, can irritate your skin when you touch them.

Stress

Emotional stress is known to be associated with eczema, but we are not exactly sure why. Some people’s eczema symptoms get worse when they’re feeling “stressed”. Others may become stressed, just knowing they have eczema, and this can make their skin flare up.

Learn more about how stress and eczema are related.

Hot/Cold temps and sweating

Most people with eczema will become itchy, or experience a “prickly heat” sensation when they sweat, or get too hot. This can happen when you exercise, wear too many clothes to bed, or when you quickly move from one extreme temperature to another (cold to hot). During the cold winter months, your skin may also get too dry — leading to irritation and an eczema flare up.

Infection

Your eczema can become infected with bacteria or viruses that live in the environment. Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”), is one of the most common types. The molluscum virus, herpes virus (fever blisters and cold sores), and certain kinds of fungus (ringworm or athlete’s foot) are other common triggers for infection. It’s important to know the symptoms of these different infections and what causes them, so that your eczema does not get worse.

Allergens

There are everyday materials in the environment that can cause you to have an allergic reaction and trigger an eczema (or AD) flare up. Some of the most common are: seasonal pollen, dust mites, pet dander from cats and dogs, mold and dandruff.

Allergens that cause symptoms to stick around a lot longer, or to come back, are much harder to pinpoint. It’s important to know the allergens that could cause a flare up, so that you can help keep your rash under control.

Hormones

Hormones are substances produced by the body that can cause a wide variety of symptoms. When the levels of certain hormones in your body increase or decrease, some people with eczema (especially women) may experience flare ups.

Learn more about how to control the most common eczema causes and triggers.