Eczema Flare Ups - Featured Image

Eczema Flare Ups – How to Manage, Treat and Prevent Them

Updated March 18, 2023

You may be noticing the weather changing and soon more and more pumpkins and fake cobwebs will start appearing in front of your neighbors' houses. Yep, October is coming up later this year. Which means one thing - It's National Eczema Awareness month! 

 Many people afflicted with eczema probably feel like they got the trick instead of the treat. But is actually a great time to bring up the topic with your friends, family, and co-workers. Why? Because eczema is more common than you might think- eczema affects about 1 in 10 people in the United States.

So there's a very good chance that under the masks and costumes that show up at your door to trick-or-treat on Halloween, there are some people hiding a much more serious condition- eczema.

In this article, we'll be discussing eczema flare-ups. We'll talk about what a flare-up is, some of the common triggers, and how you can manage, treat, and even find a way to prevent eczema flare ups.

What is eczema? 

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that results in ithcy dry skin. Sometimes even swollen and blistering skin. It can be found on the face, neck, scalp, hands and other parts of the body.
A man pointing to an outbreak of eczema on his arm.

It can be very uncomfortable, and even painful. Although it can affect people of all ages, it is more common in children than adults.

What Is An Eczema Flare Up?

An eczema flare up is a sudden period of intense itching and redness in the skin that is caused by an allergy or infection. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, but it most often affects those who have a genetic predisposition to it. It can also affect those who are exposed to irritants from the environment such as certain medicines or chemicals.
An eczema flare up

What Causes Eczema To Flare Up? 

An eczema flare-up is a sudden onset of intense itching, redness, and irritation of the skin. These flare-ups are typically triggered by a variety of external and internal factors that disrupt the skin's delicate balance.

Environmental Irritants

In addition to changes in temperature and humidity, eczema flare-ups can also be triggered by exposure to various environmental irritants. These include:

  • Air pollution and cigarette smoke
  • Cold weather
  • Harsh household chemicals like cleaners, detergents, and soaps
  • Certain fabrics like wool or synthetic materials
  • Dust, pet dander, and other allergens
  • Chlorinated water or swimming pools

Minimizing contact with these environmental triggers by using gentle, fragrance-free products, improving indoor air quality, and choosing soft, breathable clothing can help reduce the risk of eczema flare-ups.

Immune System Response

At the root of eczema flare-ups is an overactive immune system response. When the skin encounters a trigger, it sets off an inflammatory reaction, causing the release of histamine and other chemicals that lead to the characteristic symptoms of eczema.

This immune system dysfunction results in:

  • Inflammation: The skin becomes red, swollen, and painful.
  • Itching: Histamine release causes intense itching and the urge to scratch.
  • Skin Barrier Disruption: The inflammatory response weakens the skin's natural protective barrier, leading to dryness and irritation.

Understanding the underlying immune system mechanisms can help inform more targeted treatment approaches to manage eczema flare-ups and provide relief.

Dietary and Lifestyle Factors

Diet and lifestyle choices can also play a significant role in triggering eczema flare-ups. Certain dietary factors, such as:

  • Sensitivity to specific foods like dairy, eggs, or nuts
  • Lack of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
  • Dehydration and poor gut health

Additionally, lifestyle factors like high stress levels can also contribute to eczema flare-ups by further compromising the immune system.

By identifying and avoiding potential triggers, maintaining a balanced diet rich in skin-nourishing nutrients, and practicing stress management techniques, individuals with eczema can better prevent and manage flare-ups.

Overall, eczema flare-ups are the result of a complex interplay between environmental, immune system, and lifestyle factors. Understanding and addressing these various triggers is crucial for effectively managing this chronic skin condition. 

How Does Eczema Impact the Quality of Life? 

Eczema may have a major impact on an individual's quality of life.
It is often debilitating and uncomfortable to deal with, which can make it difficult to participate in certain activities. For example, eczema might become severe enough that a person cannot wear shoes without experiencing extreme pain. They might even be unable to walk or run. This in and of itself could lead to increased symptoms and more flare-ups.
Foot eczema

It's not just the physical discomfort of itchiness that leads to this type of frustration; social stigma can also be a factor. Society views those who suffer from eczema differently than those who don't. Some people may not want to associate with someone who has eczema. They could be embarrassed by the condition or think that it makes them dirty or disgusting. 

Many people avoid spending time around those with eczema for fear of getting infected and spreading germs. This despite that fact that eczema is not contagious. The social isolation and anxiety that often comes with having eczema can be just as difficult to deal with as the physical symptoms.

A woman sitting away from her colleagues

Psychological and Social Challenges

In addition to the physical discomfort, eczema can have a significant impact on an individual's mental and social well-being. The chronic, visible nature of the condition can lead to:

  • Feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment: The appearance of eczema rashes and flaking skin can cause individuals to feel self-conscious and hesitant to engage in social activities.
  • Anxiety and depression: The constant itch, pain, and disruption to daily life can take a toll on mental health, leading to increased anxiety and depression.
  • Social isolation: Misconceptions about the contagious nature of eczema can lead to social stigma and exclusion, further exacerbating the emotional burden.
  • Reduced quality of life: The physical limitations and emotional distress caused by eczema can interfere with work, school, and recreational activities, significantly impacting overall quality of life.

What Eczema Flare-up Treatment Options Do We Have? 

Treatment options for eczema flare-ups can vary depending on the type of eczema, the severity of the condition and sometimes on the patient’s age.
The following are some treatment options that may help eczema flare-ups:
  • Apply oatmeal to the affected area
  • Use topical creams or ointments with moisturizers
  • Use a humidifier in your home
  • Bathe in lukewarm/cool water
  • Do not use medicated soaps or shampoos
  • Avoid excessive heat and cold, sweat, and moisture
  • Don't scratch - this will only increase inflammation
  • Be gentle when washing your face or applying creams or ointments
  • Try a moisturizing skin barrier cream or lotion
  • Try a dedicated anti-itch medication that does not contain steroids.

Can a flare-up affect more than just your skin?

Flare-ups of eczema can affect your entire body. It is possible that you may have other symptoms such as swelling in the face, stomach, neck and joints. The skin rash that comes with a severe eczema flare-up can also cause pain, redness and a sense of pressure to areas affected by the rash.

A woman rubbing her joints

These symptoms can make it difficult for people to do simple tasks such as eating or brushing their teeth. If you are experiencing these other symptoms during a flare-up, it is important to receive proper treatment from your doctor.

How can I manage and ease eczema flare-ups?

Most people with eczema will experience flare-ups that appear suddenly and last between two days and three weeks. One of the most important steps one can take in managing and easing the symptoms of an eczema flare up is also one of the most difficult. Simply put, resist the urge to scratch.

Scratching dry skin can also lead to further irritation, inflammation and even infection. It can also cause permanent damage to the skin, which can make future flare-ups more likely and more severe. It can also make current symptoms worsen.

In order to resist scratching, it is important to find other ways to soothe the itch such as using a cool compress or taking a cool bath. Applying a moisturizer to the affected area can also help to ease the itch and prevent further damage to the skin.

One of the best ways to instantly get relief from the intense desire to scratch is to use Dermeleve® anti itch cream. Dermeleve starts working right away, and lasts for hours. Dermeleve contains no corticosteroids like hydrocortisone. This means you are not at risk for some of the very common yet lesser known side effects of long term topical steroid use.

A box and tubes of Dermeleve

What Are Ways to Prevent Eczema Flare-Ups? 

While there is no cure for eczema, you can still avoid some of the most uncomfortable and unsightly symptoms. Taking some simple precautions can minimize the chance of triggering a flare up.

1. Keep your hands moisturized 

This one is important for people who suffer from eczema on their hands.
Since we use our hands for just about everything, they are constantly exposed to irritants and drying agents that can trigger a flare-up. By keeping your hands moisturized, you can help to protect them from these triggers and reduce the chance of a flare-up.
A woman putting moisturizer on her hand

2. Use a skin product that contains ceramides.

Ceramides are a type of lipid that occurs naturally in the skin. They help to keep the skin hydrated and protect it from environmental irritants. Using a skin product that contains ceramides can help to reduce the chance of a flare-up by providing an extra layer of protection for the skin.
Look for skincare products that contain ceramides to help prevent the cause of eczema flare ups

3. Visit a dermatologist when needed

If you are struggling to control your eczema, it may be time to visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can prescribe medication that can help to control the symptoms of eczema and prevent flare-ups. They can also provide additional advice on how to care for your skin and avoid triggers that may cause a flare-up.
A woman being examined by a dermatologist

4. Make sure you have a well-balanced diet with enough omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients for ultimate skin health 

Diet plays an enormous role in skin health, and a well-balanced diet is essential for people who suffer from eczema.

Make sure your diet includes plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation. Examples of foods with fatty acids include salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.

Antioxidants are also important for people with eczema. They help to reduce the inflammation associated with the condition. Foods that are high in antioxidants include berries, leafy greens and dark chocolate.

A variety of foods rich in Omega 3

5. Manage stress

Stress is one of the most common triggers for eczema flare-us. Because stress can so easily trigger a flare-up, it is important to find ways to manage stress.

Some people find that relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help to reduce stress levels. These, in turn, can prevent eczema flare-ups. Others find that they need to make lifestyle changes such as reducing their work hours in order to manage stress.

A woman sitting and meditating

6. Protect your skin from extreme temperatures and humidity

Both extreme cold and heat can trigger eczema flare-ups. It is important to dress appropriately for the weather and avoid exposure to extreme temperatures when possible. If you must be outdoors in extreme weather, make sure to dress in loose fitting, breathable clothing. Those clothes must also protect your skin from the elements.

High humidity can also trigger a flare-up, so it is important to avoid exposure to high humidity when possible. If you live in a humid climate, make sure to use a humidifier in your home to maintain an optimal level of humidity.

A humidifier can help prevent an eczema flare up

7. Drink plenty of water

You may have heard the phrase "don't let dehydration ruin your vacation". It is especially important for people with eczema to stay hydrated. Dehydration can trigger a flare-up, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Drinking lots of water can prevent eczema flare ups.

Dermeleve banner

Wrap Up

As we make our way towards National Eczema Awareness month, it is important to remember that eczema is a common skin condition. It is also one that can be managed with the proper care. By following the tips above, you can help to reduce the chance of a flare-up and keep your skin healthy and happy.

In the meantime, for instant and long-lasting relief of your itch, give Dermeleve® a try!



Q: What is eczema?

A: Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by inflamed, itchy, and dry skin. It can vary in severity and may appear as red, irritated patches or small bumps on the skin.

Q: What are the triggers for eczema? 

A: Eczema triggers are factors that can contribute to an eczema flare-up or worsen existing symptoms. Common eczema triggers include dry skin, irritants, allergens, stress, and certain foods.

Q: Can dry skin trigger eczema? 

A: Yes, dry skin is a common trigger for eczema. When the skin lacks moisture, it becomes more prone to irritation and inflammation, leading to eczema flare-ups.

Q: How can I prevent eczema flares? 

A: To prevent eczema flare-ups, it is important to identify and avoid your specific triggers. Keep your skin well-moisturized. Avoid harsh soaps and detergents, and practice stress management techniques. All these steps can also help prevent flares.

Q: What are the symptoms of an eczema flare-up?

A: Symptoms of an eczema flare-up include redness, itching, dryness, and the appearance of small bumps or blisters on the skin. Some people may also experience oozing or crusting of the affected areas.

Q: What are the common eczema triggers? 

A: Common eczema triggers include certain fabrics (such as wool or synthetic materials), harsh soaps and detergents. Additionally, fragrance, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and certain foods, such as dairy, eggs, and nuts.

Q: How do triggers cause an eczema flare-up? 

A: Triggers can irritate your skin and disrupt its natural barrier function, leading to inflammation and an eczema flare-up. Some triggers may also activate an immune response, causing further symptoms.

Q: Can stress trigger eczema? 

A: Yes, stress can be a trigger for eczema flare-ups. Emotional stress can affect the immune system and contribute to the development or worsening of eczema symptoms.

Q: What are some treatment options for eczema? 

A: Treatment options for eczema include moisturizing the skin regularly. Others include using topical corticosteroids or immunomodulators. Taking antihistamines can relieve itching, and managing triggers through lifestyle changes is critical.

Q: How can I manage my eczema symptoms? 

A: To manage your eczema symptoms, it is important to establish a daily skincare routine. Avoid triggers, keep your skin well-moisturized, and wear comfortable and non-irritating clothing. Be sure to seek medical advice for severe or persistent symptoms.

Q: Can eczema be cured?

A: While there is no cure for eczema, it can be effectively managed with proper skincare, trigger avoidance, and medical treatment. With the right approach, most people with eczema can lead a normal and comfortable life.
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