Here are some of the most common triggers and the simple changes you can make in your home to get rid of them:
You probably don’t think of these as ‘detergents’ as such, but most soaps, shower gels and bath bubbles contain harsh cleaning ingredients that strip the skin of its natural protective oils. Instead, try using a cleansing cream instead, such as Cetraben Daily Cleaning Cream <hyperlink>, which gently washes and moisturises at the same time.
Perfumes and scented products such as hand creams, many body lotions and ordinary moisturisers can irritate the skin causing it to itch and become reddened. Switch to non-fragranced versions such as Cetraben Cream and if you’re very sensitive to additives, an ointment such as Cetraben Ointment is a good option
It’s not just pet fur which can cause watering eyes, a running nose and skin itching, their urine, sweat, dander, saliva and feathers can all cause reactions. But there’s no need to show your fluffy friends the door, as there are ways to combat pet allergies at home. Bath them at least weekly and use specialist ‘de-shedding’ combs to remove excess fur and dander. Create pet-free zones such as the bedroom and regularly clean the house with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter or is especially designed for pets.
Bleach is the best defence against mould, but the product is of itself an irritant to even the healthiest of skin. So, avoid triggering hand eczema by making sure you wear protective gloves before cleaning or touching mould. Also consider a mask to protect your lungs as from any fumes from the bleach and disturbed mould spores.
Dust and pollen
A place may look clean, but tiny dust mites in our soft furnishings and microscopic pollen spores can irritant the skin and trigger flare-ups of eczema. Regularly wash any rugs and steam them, if possible, to kill mites. Use mite-proof covers on your pillows and mattress and consider using a specialist dust mite hoover on your sofas and bedding. You could also use an air purifier with a HEPA filter and introduce certain house plants which are known for their air cleaning properties.
Time to take a critical look at your wardrobe and how you treat your clothes. Certain fabrics such as wool with coarse fibres can itch the skin, as well as synthetics such as polyester. Cotton and silk are the most eczema friendly garments. Make sure you wash them using a detergent suitable for sensitive skin.
Are the products in your kitchen cupboards eczema and dry skin friendly? Dairy, gluten, wheat, citrus fruits, soy, tomatoes and some types of nuts have been found to trigger eczema in some people. Always speak with your doctor first before cutting anything out of your diet. Alcohol is also a classic cause of dehydrated skin and dry skin on the body.
Keep a diary
How to treat eczema and its triggers vary widely from person to person. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a diary to help work out what triggers your dry skin or eczema. In it, note down when and where you get flare-ups, your environment, what you’ve eaten and any activity you’ve taken part in.
Keep in mind that eczema flare-ups can occur a while after exposure to a trigger, and this lag time can make some triggers challenging to detect. Be persistent!