Top eczema triggers to avoid


Although eczema is one of the commonest chronic skin diseases, we still don’t know what exactly causes eczema. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic causes and trigger factors play a role in most types of eczema. You may be born with an increased likelihood of developing eczema because of the genes you inherit from your parents.

Those of you with eczema tend to have an over reactive immune system. It can get triggered by both intrinsic (inside the body) and extrinsic (outside the body) substances. The response to the substance is inflammation. Inflammation leads to red, itchy skin lesions common to most types of eczema.

How does eczema skin differ from normal skin?

Normal skin provides a healthy protective barrier which prevents skin from drying out and fights off infections. This barrier is made by a protein called filaggrin. Research shows that there is a mutation in the gene which creates filaggrin in some people with eczema. As filaggrin is not there to build a strong skin barrier, the moisture from your skin can escape outside leading to very dry skin. Because of the defective barrier, bacteria and viruses can enter in, making your skin infection prone.

The goal of eczema management is to keep your symptoms under control. You have to feel comfortable and stay healthy while living with eczema, because eczema has no cure and it can cause flares from time to time. Prevention of getting a flare can be challenging. To prevent a flare we have to identify the potential triggers which causes a flare.

What are the common eczema triggers?

It may be difficult to detect a trigger because a flare can occur sometime after exposure and not directly after. This time lag can make it difficult to detect some of the triggers which causes our eczema flare.

We have to keep in mind that eczema affects everyone differently. What triggers a flare in you is not the same for another. You may experience the symptoms of eczema in different regions in your body and at certain times of the year.

Common eczema triggers are;

  • Dry skin – If your skin gets very dry, it becomes scaly, rough and brittle easily. You may get a tight feeling. These features can lead to an eczema flare.
  • Irritants – some substances can act as irritants to our skin. These can be found in the everyday products we use and even in natural substances that come in to contact with our skin. We use most of these products on our body and in our homes in our day to day lives. These irritants can make our skin itch and burn or become red and dry further. Because in eczema we already have a sensitive skin with a defective barrier.

These irritants can be;

  1. Hand and dish soap, shampoos, body wash, bubble bath
  2. Laundry detergents, surface cleaners, disinfectants and other household cleaners
  3. Some natural liquids such as juice from fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
  4. Metal ex: Nickel (found in watches, kitchen ware, jewelry, batteries etc.)
  5. Fragrances and perfumes
  6. Cigarette smoke
  7. Antibacterial ointments ex: Bacitracin, Neomycin
  8. Certain fabrics such as wool, polyester and other synthetic fabrics

Here are some potential chemicals which can irritate our skin and cause an eczema flare up.

  • Isothiazolinone – it is an antibacterial product found in some personal care products ex: baby wipes
  • Formaldehyde – it is found in glues, adhesives, household disinfectants and some vaccines
  • Paraphenylene-diamene – found in temporary tattoos and leather dyes
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine – found in shampoos and lotions

These substances can irritate your skin when it comes into contact with them or when you touch them.

  • Environmental factors – cold or dry weather conditions, humidity and dampness, house dust mites, molds, pollen and pet dander may act as triggers to give a flare.

Most of these are air borne allergens. Allergens are substances which cause an allergic reaction.

  • Food allergies – allergens in certain foods can trigger eczema.

Ex: Cow’s milk, pea nuts, soya, eggs, wheat, gluten, shell fish

As each one with eczema is different, whether you are allergic to such food items and to what food items, differ from one patient to another. Some eczemas are not related to food allergies at all. Be mindful of what you eat if you know that certain foods can trigger your eczema.

  • Stress – emotional stress is found to be a trigger for eczema flares. The exact cause of how stress affects eczema is not sure. Symptoms may worsen when you are feeling ‘stressed’. Knowing that you have eczema which is a chronic skin disease can also stress you which can lead to a flare up. Living with eczema can be challenging and it can affect our emotional wellbeing. The appearance of the skin rash is not only embarrassing but it can lead to severe itching and sleepless nights.

Stress and anxiety are well known triggers of eczema because when we experience a stressful situation, our body switches to a ‘fight or flight’ mode which increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. They can suppress our immune system and cause an inflammatory response in our skin, leading to a flare.

  • Hormonal changes – Eczema flares can occur and symptoms may worsen during certain times in women because of their hormonal changes.

Ex: prior to the periods, during pregnancy and breast feeding

  • Skin infections – when germs get in to your skin, it can trigger an eczema flare. Eczema skin may develop fissures and small cracks on the surface. These act as entry points to various bacteria (staphylococcus, streptococcus), viruses (HSV) and even fungi. Infection can make eczema worse and treatment becomes more difficult. Your skin will get more damaged which leads the way to further infection. Therefore, breaking this cycle of infection is a key to successful management of eczema.
  • Heavy workouts and exercise can lead to increased sweating leading to eczema flares. For people with eczema, heavy exercise can dry out their skin through loss of fluids. Sweat has sodium which further can dehydrate your skin while irritating and making it sting. As the skin surface temperature soars with exercise, it can trigger frenzied scratching in people with eczema. This can damage your skin and lead to a flare.

If you have symptoms that worry you, seek help from your doctor or a dermatologist. It is best to maintain a diary, so that you can discuss what the possible triggers are and the ways of avoiding these triggers with your doctor. Apart from complying with the treatment regime, it is a must to identify what triggers a flare up and try your best to avoid them.

Some tips to avoid triggers

  • Identify the triggering foods and avoid them in your diet

Maintaining an eczema friendly diet is the key to keeping your symptoms under control. There are certain foods which help to reduce eczema symptoms. They are known to be anti-inflammatory foods. Studies have demonstrated that these can fight inflammation.

  1. Fatty fish – Fatty fish contain long chain omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA and are a rich source of protein. EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation.

Ex: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Herring

  1. Berries – Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanin which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Ex: Blue berries, Black berries, Raspberries

  1. Avocados – rich in vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fats, carotenoids and tocopherols which are good anti-inflammatory agents.
  2. Cruciferous vegetables – They are rich in antioxidants which fight inflammation.

Ex: Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts

  1. Green tea – it is a healthy beverage with anti-inflammatory properties
  2. Peppers – They are rich with antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Make sure to avoid foods like fried foods, junk foods, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and Trans fats because they are linked with increased levels of inflammation. They may play a role in worsening your eczema.

  • Keep your home allergen free, vacuum regularly, wash your bed linen at least once a week, replace carpets with hard wood floors so that you can mop your floor to keep it dust free and clean.
  • To avoid your skin becoming too dry during winter months, use a humidifier at home. Moisturize your skin more than usual in cold months to prevent drying.
  • Manage your stress well – practice yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques
  • Use gloves when using detergents and house hold cleansers. Avoid touching chemical irritants unnecessarily.
  • Use hypoallergenic scent free body products
  • Choose fabrics which doesn’t trigger symptoms such as itchiness and redness. You can wear an extra layer of non-irritant garment like cotton, under your wool garments.
  • You can do low intensity work outs in cooler times of day such as early morning or evening. Keep a fan nearby to evaporate the sweat.

Managing your eczema can be challenging. Keep track of your day to day activities. Identify what worsens your symptoms. Take necessary steps to reduce exposure to these triggers. With time you may notice an improvement in your skin and flares will be much less.



Which soap is the best for Eczema?


Atopic dermatitis commonly known as eczema is a chronic skin condition caused by a defect in your skin barrier along with inflammation of your skin. Because of the defective skin barrier, your skin is more sensitive to various allergens and irritants like pollen, chemicals and pet dander. 1 in 10 people will experience eczema at some point in their life. Therefore it is a problem faced by most of you. If you are having eczema, you should think twice before using any product on your skin. Surely, experience has taught you that the wrong soap, body wash, hand wash or a facial cleanser can intensify your eczema. As your skin has a defective barrier, it has to face many hardships to protect itself from the environment. On top of it, using a wrong product can further inflame and dry your skin.

Signs and symptoms varies by individual, so is your skin sensitivity. It is important for you to be aware of how your skin reacts to these allergens and irritants in order to control current outbreaks of eczema as well as future flares.

What should you look for when choosing an eczema soap?

You have to first look for the eczema soap’s active ingredient because it is the element that makes the biggest healing difference on your skin. These active ingredients may be medical elements or natural soothing elements like Aloe Vera or green tea. Don’t go for the name brand only which is a big mistake that most of us do. It is vital that one should go with the best soap for Eczema in terms of ingredients used weather it is hand soap or body soap.

Take a close look at the ingredients in the product.

Eczema skin is more sensitive and irritable than normal skin. Therefore, it is crucial for you to be aware of the things that can set off an outbreak in your eczematous skin. Some possible irritants of skin include; dyes, fragrances, parabens, solvents and preservatives. Choose a product free of such irritants. For those of you with eczema, it is of utmost importance to choose a cleanser that is best for you. Choose a gentle one free from common irritants, allergens and fragrances. Don’t pick harsh soaps or ones with allergens as they can worsen your eczema or lead to an allergic reaction on top of your eczema.

Here are some soaps and body washes which are found to be effective on eczematous skin. These are some of the best soaps for Eczema.

Cetaphil Deep cleansing Bar

cetaphil deep cleansing bar

“It will cleanse and moisturize your skin simultaneously”

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar is the way to go because it is safe for daily cleansing as well as it is budget friendly. This gentle, soothing non irritating formula leaves your skin moisturized after each use. This is a mild, non-alkaline soap bar that is specifically designed for dry and sensitive skin. It is an excellent choice for full body cleansing as it cleans and moisturizes your skin simultaneously. This soap has a neutral PH formula which is great for sensitive skin. It doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients. Therefore, it allows your skin to heal without stripping off the natural oils in your skin while protecting the skin barrier. Cetaphil Deep cleansing bar is safe for both adults and children.

This is available at Amazon for 8 USD.


Basis sensitive skin soap

Basis sensitive skin soap

“This will let you take care of your basic skin sensitivities without spending much money” – It is the best soap for your budget.

Basis sensitive skin soap for Eczema is full of natural, soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera and chamomile tea. It contains minimal dyes, fragrances and other harsh chemicals and will take care of your skin sensitivities. This soap leaves your skin feeling calm, replenished and clean and is dermatologist recommended. Usually specialized soaps are expensive. This soap will suit your budget and is a great addition to your daily routine.

You can buy it from Amazon for 19 USD and Walgreens for 3 USD.


Dove Pure and sensitive Beauty bar

Dove Pure and sensitive Beauty bar

It will allow you to cleanse your skin gently. It provides you with a rich creamy lather. It is a nourishing body cleanser which puts essential nutrients back in to your skin. It is suitable for mild eczema and sensitive skin as it gently removes the dirt and make up without drying out your skin. This is rated as one of the best soaps for Eczema as well.

Dove also has a series of soothing body washes suitable for eczema.


Some of you may prefer to use a body wash instead of using a soap bar.

Free and clear liquid cleanser

Free and clear liquid cleanser

“Simple with no irritating additives”

This is a simple hand soap without any irritating additives that can lead to flares of eczema. It contains effective cleansing ingredients while being gentle on your skin. This liquid cleanser is oil free, paraben free, sulfate free, Gluten free and free from fragrances. This formula leaves your hands soft while cleansing and calming your skin. It is dermatologist recommended.


CeraVe Soothing Body wash

CeraVe Soothing Body wash

“CeraVe Soothing body wash is designed by dermatologists to restore your skin to its natural healthy state”

This unique formula is designed by dermatologists and it is recommended by the National Eczema Foundation. CeraVe body wash is fragrance free with no parabens or sulfates and it is safe for both adults and children. It is rich in omega oils, three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It cleanses and calms your skin while restoring it to its natural, healthy state. You will feel safe using this on your skin while avoiding irritants and allergens. This comes under top category of best body wash for eczema.

You can buy this product from CVS or from Amazon for 18 USD


CLn Body wash

CLn Body wash

CLn Body wash is designed to reduce redness, dryness and flakiness in your skin”

This is a cleanser which is safe for daily use, is designed to reduce dryness, redness and flakiness of your skin. It is preserved with sodium hypochlorite for a strong yet calming sensation for eczematous skin. CLn body wash has no parabens, fragrances or steroids which makes it safe for use in both adults and children.

This product is available at Amazon for 20 USD.


Olay Ultra moisture Shea butter body wash

Olay Ultra moisture Shea butter body wash

It has a unique lock in moisture technology which ensures keeping your skin moisturized after you shower. It is formulated with Olay’s Vitamin B3 complex. Olay Ultra moisture body wash will hydrate and plump the surface skin cells while locking in natural moisture. It will leave your skin soft and smooth.


SkinFix Eczema soothing wash

SkinFix Eczema soothing wash

It contains soothing oatmeal, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. This product is recommended by the dermatologists and known to be eczema soothing body wash. It is free of parabens, fragrance, soy, nut ingredients, sulfates and phthalates.


What soap should you choose to cleanse your face?

Some of you with eczema, may experience dry skin on your face too. Although you can use the same eczema soap and body wash to cleanse your face, it is best to go for a milder version because the skin on your face is more sensitive.

Neutrogena Ultra gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Neutrogena Ultra gentle Hydrating Cleanser

“Neutrogena Ultra gentle Hydrating Cleanser does not contain any fragrances, allergens or parabens”

If you are looking for the best face soap for eczema for your face and post makeup cleansing this product is strong enough to remove your makeup residue yet soft enough for your sensitive skin. This is a mild creamy cleanser which helps to remove make up, dirt and other blemishes from your face. Neutrogena Ultra gentle hydrating cleanser is rich with a skin nourishing poly-glycerin formula which soothes your eczema. There are no added harsh chemicals and irritants which can damage your sensitive skin. It is paranben free, fragrance free and allergen free. Therefore, it can be used on the most sensitive skin. It is recommended by the National Eczema Association.

You can buy this product from Amazon for 9 USD and Ulta for 11 USD.


Are there special products for babies with Eczema?

Eczema is commonly seen in babies and we all know that their skin is so sensitive. Therefore, a baby with eczema needs a very mild cleanser for soothing effect.

CeraVe Baby

CeraVe Baby

“CeraVe Baby has clean and calm ingredients that are safe enough to use on your baby”

This product will leave your baby’s skin feeling soft and well moisturized. It is rich with vitamins and 3 essential ceramides for restoring the protective barrier making your baby’s skin healthy. CeraVe’s Baby wash and Shampoo is safe enough to use in babies and is a tear- free formula. It has no parabens, fragrances or sulfates and is recommended by the National Eczema Foundation to be used in babies. This is recommended as the best soap for eczema baby.

This product is available in Walgreens for 10 USD and in Amazon.


Are there any special products for Vegans?

If you are a vegan you may want a soap which suits your life style.

Splendor Pure Coconut oil soap

Splendor Pure Coconut oil soap

“It is a creamy soap that moisturizes and calms dry skin and is best for vegans”

Splendor pure coconut oil soap is rich in coconut oil, aloe Vera, colloidal oats, organic calendula and organic chamomile. Coconut oil is proven as an anti-inflammatory agent and is recommended for both consumption and topical use. It is excellent for dry eczematous skin. Because this product contains all natural ingredients, it is free from chemical irritants and allergens.

You can buy this from Amazon for 14 dollars.


Shea Moisture African Black soap

Shea Moisture African Black soap

“Shea Moisture African Black soap simultaneously moisturizes, soothes your skin while being anti-bacterial and therapeutic”

This product can be used for both eczema and psoriasis therapy. This natural therapy soap is rich with Shea butter, lemon balm, Aloe Vera and Gotukola. It lets in moisture and heals inflammation and dryness caused by eczema. This formula is designed to keep harmful bacteria out of your skin’s protective barrier therefore it is anti-bacterial and therapeutic. The soap is ideal to soothe and moisturize your skin in a natural way.

This product is available on Amazon for 15 USD and Walgreens for 5 USD.

Your skin needs moisture to stay healthy, smooth and supple, but as we age retaining moisture becomes difficult. Moisture is lost from our skin readily during winter because of central heating.

Daily routines like bathing and towel drying can remove moisture from your skin. Modifying your bathing routine will preserve your skin’s moisture to a certain extent.

  • Use luke warm water to your bath or shower. Hot water can dry out your skin. Limit your time of bathing to 15 minutes or less because too much bathing can strip your skin’s oily lipid layer.
  • Avoid rubbing with wash cloth when cleansing your body.
  • Use one of the soaps or body washes that are suitable for eczema to cleanse your skin.
  • When toweling dry, just blot or pat dry without rubbing your skin.
  • Apply a suitable moisturizer to your skin while the skin is still damp.

Even after you find the best soap for your eczema, still you may have to face many challenges;

  • Product may change – the manufacturer may periodically change their products. Once the ingredients change, it may not be the same for you.
  • Your skin may change – The condition of your skin can change with time and with each time you get a flare. Therefore, the effectiveness of your soap may also change.
  • What is best for someone else may not work for you.

You can discuss with your doctor or a dermatologist to find the most suitable eczema soap for you.


The soaps and other products you use play a major role in managing your eczema as well as avoiding future flares. The soap you use must keep your skin clean and healthy while protecting the skin barrier. It should be minimally irritating while helping to soothe symptoms of eczema.