Environmental factors of Eczema

The severity of your eczema can often be a result of the environment in which you live in. Although we know that the tendency to have eczema is hereditary, many factors that trigger eczema are in fact environmental.

So you ask what is the best way to treat your eczema? The old age proverb, that prevention is better than cure is certainly true for atopic eczema.

Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema and it is allergy based. Your immediate environment is full of allergens. Knowing what these allergens are and how to avoid them is vital.

The most common allergens are:

  • dust mite
  • pet fur
  • pollens
  • cleaning agents
  • foods

Dust Mites

We have known of the dangers of dust mite for those who suffer from allergies for longer than the word allergies has been around. And they are difficult to avoid.

Dust mites are everywhere.

Dust mites live off organic debris and their preferred diet is skin cells. Dust mite can therefore be found wherever humans are. They are most abundant where dead human skin cells are most plentiful – bedding, rugs, upholstered furniture. They thrive in warm moist environments.

Dust mites are resilient.

Dust mites are also very resilient. They can survive in warm soapy water and can withstand freezing temperatures for up to 5 hours. Bedding and furnishings should therefore be laundered regularly in the hottest water possible and then put through the hottest cycle of a clothes dryer.

It is best to replace children’s soft plush covered toys with toys that have smooth plastic bodies and washable clothes. If children have special toys they just can’t part with they should be washed 2 -3 times a week in very hot water to kill the dust mite or placed in a plastic bag and put in the freezer overnight. The next morning they can be washed in warm water to remove the dead mites.

Regular vacuuming is essential

Although regular vacuuming will not totally rid a room of mites it will remove up to 70% of them. However they will be back to their original numbers within a week. Regular vacuuming is therefore essential.

The most effective way to keep your environment as dust mite free as possible is to vacuum regularly, launder in hot water regularly and replace what ever can’t be laundered with that which can be laundered easily in hot water.

Out doors/Pollen

Pollen is commonly associated with allergic reactions, especially those involving asthma and hayfever (allergic rhinitis). It can be a problem for eczema sufferers as well. It is from mid spring until the end of summer that pollen is a major problem.

Of course it would be easiest just to stay inside with the doors and windows shut. This would eliminate the problem of pollen causing eczema flare ups, however it would also pretty well eliminate any sort of life style you may have as well.

The idea is then to minimize your exposure to pollen. This can be done by:

  • Changing clothes when coming inside and shower to remove any specks of pollen.
  • Keeping windows shut during the summer months.
  • Consider replacing lawns with pebbles or paving.
  • If you must keep your lawn have some one else mow it for you.
  • Avoid having plants in your garden that are known allergen-producing plants.


They say there are two sides to every story. Eczema and pets is the perfect example. With pet fur, dander (dried skin), urine and saliva being common allergens for the eczema sufferer, it stands to reason that pets are a no no if you have eczema.


Not Necessarily

The benefits of owning a pet are well documented. They provide company, decrease stress, provide hours of endless pleasure and distract from worries.

These benefits are important for your eczema.

We know stress is a common factor in eczema flare-ups. If having a pet will help to minimize your stress, then it stands to reason that the decreased stress may in turn lessen the eczema.

If itching is a frequent problem the distraction of having a pet to care for and play with may be just the answer.

Don’t avoid having a pet…

Don’t avoid having a pet because you think you may be allergic.

Of course if you are actually allergic to your pet the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages. But before you send your beloved pet off to a new home check that it is your pet you are allergic to and not the products you are using on him to care for him. It is not uncommon for pet shampoo or flea care etc to cause an allergic reaction and not the fur or the pet himself.

If you choose to have a pet select your pet carefully. Perhaps a goldfish would be a better alternative. If it is a cat or dog that you are wanting, keep him clean and well groomed. Don’t allow him to sleep on your bed or chairs and wash your hands after contact. Try to keep your pet outside.

If you feel that a pet is a must in your life and your pet does cause allergic reactions you may find that it is necessary to use extra medication to control your eczema.

Cleaning products

Chemicals, Detergents, Eczema

The three just don’t go together!

Although chemicals and detergents do not cause atopic eczema they are potential allergens for the unsuspecting eczema sufferer as they are commonly the cause of flare ups.

The problem is they are found everywhere in modern day society. Our lives are filled with artificial cleaning agents designed to clean our homes, our clothes, our bodies.

However they can have detrimental effects on our skin. Chemicals and detergents dry the skin, stripping it of its natural oils. They are commonly the cause of allergic reactions especially in contact dermatitis and the cause of many a flare up in atopic eczema.

What can we do about it?

For most of us it is simply not possible to completely remove artificial cleaners from our daily lives.

  • House Cleaning:

Wear gloves when washing the dishes or cleaning using any chemicals. Cotton liners under rubber gloves will help to prevent irritation from the rubber.

Wash your hands after using chemicals and always remoisturise after having your hands in water. Try to select cleaning agents which are less harsh on your hands and our environment.

  • Clothes Cleaning:

Use a mild detergent to wash your clothes in. Don’t chop and change your detergent. If you find one that doesn’t irritate your skin don’t use different ones because they are cheaper or because the ads say they are better.

If you have problems with clothes irritating your skin wash your clothes, towels and bedding twice. Once in detergent and once in plain water as an extra rinse.

  • Body Cleaning:

We have become a society with obsessive personal hygiene. Which is good because none of us like to be near a smelly person. But do we go over the top – especially those with sensitive skin.

Over washing or prolonged exposure to water strips the skin of its natural oils resulting in dry, cracked skin. This is a problem for anyone but for the eczema sufferer it is a major problem. Dry skin coupled with a sensitivity to many of the additives found in our personal cleaning agents leads to many eczema flare ups.

  • Using Soap

There are many soap substitutes available that make the use of soaps unnecessary. Try using a cleansing bar, skin wash, skin cream or emulsifying ointment. These non soap cleansing lotions have a neutral pH and are unperfumed. They are far less likely to cause a skin irritation than normal soaps.

Avoid using perfumes or after shave lotions that are scented. Choose deodorants that are natural or manufactured for sensitive skin. It may take some trial and error but it is worth shopping around to find the products that best suit your skin.

Consider using Grahams Natural Shampoo & Conditioner for your hair, and Grahams Natural Soap to avoid irritating your eczema.