Eczema affects everyone differently. One person’s triggers may not be the same as another’s. Your might experience eczema symptoms at certain times of the year or in different areas of your body.
A GP will work with you to establish what might trigger the eczema flare-ups, although it may get better or worse for no obvious reason. When trying to identify potential triggers, keep in mind that an eczema flare can appear sometime after exposure.
Ingredients that can trigger an eczema flare-up in some individuals such as cheese, milk, eggs, wheat and nuts are used year-round but are particularly popular at Christmas. It can be helpful to let your family know what foods they need to avoid ahead of time, in order to help you manage your eczema during the holidays.
Popular Christmas ingredients that may trigger an eczema flare-up include:
🍊 Citrus fruits
🍞 Gluten or wheat
🍰 Spices such as vanilla, cloves and cinnamon
🥜 Some types of nuts
Festive outfits such as Christmas jumpers and dressing up clothes are often made from fabrics that irritate sensitive skin. If these items are unavoidable aim to wear a protective base layer of smooth fabric such as DermaSilk Therapeutic Clothing. With DermaSilk you don’t need to worry about overheating when dressing in layers thanks to the way the sericin-free silk is knitted, allowing airflow between the fabric and the skin.
The needles on real Christmas trees can also be a trigger for eczema-prone skin. The oil terpene found in some plants, including natural Christmas trees can cause contact allergies. Artificial trees are a better alternative but be sure to wash them down to remove any reaction-triggering dust.
Many people overheat their homes in the winter. This reduces humidity and dries the skin. Not what you want with an eczema sufferer around. It’s still ok to have the heating on, but be careful not to turn the heat up too much when it’s cold outside. Instead, set the thermostat at a cool, comfortable temperature of around 20°C.
Toiletries are a popular Christmas gift but can contain many eczema-triggering ingredients that can dry out the skin. To avoid receiving gifts that may go to waste, agree with friends and family to share wish lists that contains eczema safe products such as specific toiletries and clothing that you know is safe for your skin, or even an experience day that you can enjoy as a with friends or family.
Anxiety and stress are common triggers of eczema flare-ups. This is because when we experience a stressful situation, the brain sends a distress signal which causes the body to enter fight or flight mode, prompting the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin, which is bad news for those with eczema.
Identifying potential areas of stress in your life can be a good place to start in helping find ways to prevent it from having a detrimental effect on your eczema.
If eczema does get the better of you, there are some things you can do to help with a flare:
If heat aggravates your eczema you can keep yourself cool (with special garments like DermaSilk), but you should also aim keep the rooms in your home cool, especially the bedroom. Light, breathable fabrics are most likely to prevent itching. DermaTherapy’s antimicrobial, micro-fibre sheets reduce bacteria and wick away excessive heat and moisture. In addition, DermaTherapy fabrics are woven from a strong, continuous-filament yarn that creates a consistently smooth, silk-like surface. Friction with the skin is reduced, minimising irritation, resulting in a superior quality of sleep.
In addition to making the skin feel less dry, emollients may also have a mild anti-inflammatory role and can help reduce the number of flare-ups you have. Emollients have a very important role not only in treating flare-ups but actually working to prevent them in the first place. Eczema is a very personal condition, so it may take a while to find an emollient that suits you best. They come in a wide variety of forms: creams, ointments, lotions, gels and sprays, each suit different situations, body parts and of course, personal preference.
During a flare-up, you may require a larger amount of emollient applied more frequently. When using DermaSilk alongside emollients, ensure the emollient cream is applied in a thin layer, in the direction the hair grows and wait before applying topical steroids or putting on DermaSilk garments. Watch our application demonstration video.
Topical corticosteroids came in many forms, most eczema treatments come as creams or lotions. They are used on the skin to treat swelling, itching and irritation, and work by acting inside the skin cells to stop the release of the chemicals that cause swelling, redness and itching.
When using a topical corticosteroid:
- apply your emollient first and ideally, wait around 30 minutes until the emollient has soaked into your skin, or apply the corticosteroid at a different time of day (such as night)
- apply the recommended amount of the topical corticosteroid to the affected area
- continue to use it until 48 hours after the flare-up has cleared so the inflammation under the skin surface is treated
If itching during a flare-up affects your sleep, a GP may suggest taking a sedating antihistamine.
Always follow your GP or Dermatologist’s recommendations when it comes to prescription medication.
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