What’s causing my Eczema?

Have you always had a tendency to dry skin? Or you are recently noticing irritating red patches that itch? Suspect it may be eczema?

It is a common belief that eczema is caused by food allergens. Whilst this may be partly the case in many instances, it is definitely not so in all of them.

Eczema is most common in people with a family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever (allergic rhinitis). This indicates that there is a familial or genetic component to the condition. Your immune system is predisposed to you having eczema but this does not cause a flare up. What actually triggers the skin to break out in eczema will vary from person to person.

Eczema is a very individual condition. What triggers one person’s eczema may have no impact at all on another person’s eczema. Similarly what decreases the severity of the eczema will vary from person to person. It is this individuality of the condition that makes it impossible to find a total cure.

Trying to establish what is triggering your eczema is not always an easy process. Not all triggers will cause a reaction first time, so you may have dismissed them as triggers. If you are having a problem establishing what triggers your eczema, eliminate all suspect products and then slowly reintroduce them one at a time.

Some common trigger factors are listed below:

Foods: Egg, cows milk, shell fish, peanuts, wheat, nuts, rice, codfish, food additives, alcohol, coffee and some fruit.

Environmental: dust mites, tree and grass pollens, animal hair, saliva and skin, fungal spores and feather stuffing for pillows and doonas.

Manmade: detergents and household cleaners, perfumed soaps, bubble baths, some creams and ointments, solvents, some drugs and washing detergents.

Personal: scratching, emotional and psychological stress, overheating, woolen clothing and excessive bathing.

Mel Sinclair, RN