Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a skin problem that causes skin irritation and inflammation. The condition can be mild or more severe, depending on the immune system of the patient. There are a lot of triggers that cause eczema outbreaks including stress, food, chemicals, materials and smoke or pollens; knowing these may help, so as to be able to prevent future eczema outbreaks. 

1. Foods

Certain acidic foods such as seafood, dairy products, nuts, eggs, acidic fruits (i.e. plums or cranberries) or grains may cause eczema flare ups. Drinks such as sodas, wines or distilled water can also cause an outbreak of eczema.

You should also avoid processed foods which contain additives, preservatives and artificial colorings that may also facilitate the occurrence of eczemas. Alkaline foods should be included in the daily diet; some common alkaline foods include bananas and most fruits and vegetables, chicken meat, spinach, potatoes and mineral water.

However, there are also other foods that may cause atopic dermatitis; it all depends on what triggers the immune system of each individual in part. Food testing must be performed to identify the foods that cause eczema in each individual in part.

2. Stress

Stress is definitely a factor that may cause and aggravate eczema, as the stress will weaken the immune system and eczema occurs in people with a weaker immune system; identifying and eliminating the factors that cause stress is essential in preventing the eczema outbreaks.

Stress may also be managed through medication or therapy (i.e. aromatherapy).

3. Chemicals

Household chemicals, perfumes, shampoos or soaps may all trigger eczema outbreaks. It is important to check the composition of each product used and avoid the ingredients that are likely to cause dermatitis.

4. Materials and Fabrics

The contact with certain materials may cause contact dermatitis. If the skin comes in direct contact with certain materials such as wool, plastic or polyester, it may react negatively and become itchy and dry.

Soft fabrics and natural materials (i.e. cotton) are recommended for people that are susceptible to developing eczema.

5. Other Irritants

There are also other factors that can trigger an outbreak of atopic eczema. These include:

  • Pet hair and dander
  • Smoke
  • Pollens and grasses
  • Dust mites
  • Cosmetics

Identifying these irritants can help prevent eczema outbreaks. The irritants may be detected through observing the skin’s reaction immediately after the exposure to these irritants. For example, if the eczema is caused by pollens, the dermatitis will only be present during the pollen seasons.

6. Hereditary Factors

Eczema may be an inherited condition; for instance, if both parents are affected by dermatitis, the child will have an 80% chance of developing dermatitis. Also, if there are people with asthma, hay fever or other allergies in the family, the children will be more susceptible to developing eczema.

In these cases, the occurrence of eczema may not be prevented.