Identifying Your Child's Eczema Triggers

Learn how to identify the triggers of your child's eczema, so you can reduce the likelihood of them developing itchy flare-ups.

When your child has eczema, the itchy flare-ups can be frustrating for you and your child. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory condition that makes the skin turn dry, red and itchy. In severe cases, eczema can interrupt sleep and increase the risk of developing skin infections. The effect goes beyond the physical as it also impacts your child’s mood and behavior. It’s easy to identify eczema symptoms, but can you also identify the triggers?

What’s the Treatment for Eczema?

While there is no cure for eczema, it can be treated. One of the cornerstones of eczema treatment on top of the daily practice of good skincare is avoiding the triggers.

Identifying triggers takes time and patience. Here are ways to identify eczema triggers:

  1. Remove possible triggers and observe.

Each time your child has an eczema flare-up, take note of all the possible factors that might have caused it. Eliminate the suspected triggers and see if the symptoms improve.

The common triggers include:

  • Fabrics: Polyester, wool, nylon, rayon
  • Fragrance: Found in personal hygiene or household products like soap, lotions, shampoo, detergent soap, perfume
  • Environmental: Dry air, hot or cold weather, change in season, low or high humidity, pets, dust
  • Physical: stress (ie. caused by temper tantrum), sweat, saliva, hormones, germs, infection, excessive scratching, excessive sebum on the skin, overgrowth of yeast on the skin
  • Allergies: food allergies, airborne allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Insect bites
  • Existing skin infection
  • Chemicals: found in glue, paint, carpet, plastic chairs
  • Metals: Nickel

You will often find eczema flares where the irritant like fabrics, metal, food, or sweat, came into contact with the skin. With food allergies, the skin reaction may be observed after ingesting the allergen. Airborne allergies may be more challenging to confirm. You can consult your child’s pediatrician or allergist to ask whether the child has possible airborne allergens that trigger eczema. Sometimes eczema is triggered with no identifiable cause.

  1. Read labels.

A common mistake that parents of children with eczema make is they switch to natural products, thinking that it will help allergies and flare-ups. But natural doesn’t mean it won’t trigger eczema or allergies. (Even “natural” products can trigger eczema or allergies). If your child has eczema or allergies, reading labels and checking whether it has potential triggers are a must, whether the product is organic or not. Some “natural” ingredients can trigger a reaction, like aloe vera gel, lanolin, sunflower oil or oatmeal.

Much like allergies, you will never really know what triggers your child’s eczema unless you try it. One way to test it is to apply a potential eczema trigger on a small spot on the skin. Observe if there will be a reaction for one to two days. Try one suspected trigger at a time so it will be easier to monitor.

What to Do If Your Child Has Eczema

If your child is suffering from eczema, an allergist and/or dermatologist will be able to help you manage the symptoms. Topical ointments and medications are available to relieve symptoms. Allergists will also be able to recommend the right therapy for your child’s eczema.

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.