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Eczema is a con­di­tion that un­for­tu­nately has no cure. In­stead, it has to be man­aged with the right skin­care and life­style habits. If your skin has been red, itchy and in­flamed more re­cently even though you haven’t switched up your rou­tine, these sur­pris­ing causes might be to blame. 1EATING TOO MUCH SUGAR

Your 3pm pas­try and cookie fix isn’t do­ing you any good. Re­search has linked a diet high in re­fined sug­ars to in­creased lev­els of in­flam­ma­tion in the body. And the last thing you need when suf­fer­ing from eczema is chronic in­flam­ma­tion since that is one of the trig­gers of a flare-up.


Ah, stress. A lit­tle stress is great for get­ting things done but too much can send your body (and mind) into a frenzy. When you’re stressed out, your im­mune sys­tem gets com­pro­mised and this can trig­ger body-wide in­flam­ma­tion that can cause your eczema to flare.


Bathing in hot wa­ter af­ter a long and tir­ing day might feel great, but you’re go­ing to re­gret it once you step out of the shower. Hot wa­ter ac­tu­ally strips your skin of mois­ture and nat­u­ral oils, and this can ex­ac­er­bate dry­ness and ir­ri­ta­tion. The same goes for wash­ing the dishes in hot wa­ter. Keep your show­ers no longer than 10 min­utes and al­ways bathe in cool or luke­warm wa­ter. Gen­tly pat or dab off ex­cess wa­ter when you towel your­self dry, and im­me­di­ately reap­ply your creams and mois­turis­ers to damp skin to lock in hy­dra­tion af­ter.


When you have an eczema rash, you may be tempted to keep scratch­ing it – or you may even find your­self do­ing so sub­con­sciously! While scratch­ing pro­vides tem­po­rary re­lief, the itch ac­tu­ally doesn’t go away and in fact, might be­come worse. Scratch­ing may break the sur­face of your skin and cause your eczema patch to spread or be­come more ir­ri­tated. Re­sist the urge to scratch by cov­er­ing up and us­ing creams or oint­ments that have anti-itch prop­er­ties.


When you suf­fer from sen­si­tive skin, some­thing as in­no­cent as your choice of laun­dry de­ter­gent can also cause your eczema to worsen. Many com­mer­cial de­ter­gents con­tain in­gre­di­ents that can ir­ri­tate skin. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Eczema As­so­ci­a­tion in the US, look for liq­uid de­ter­gents as these tend to have less residue than pow­ders, and make sure the for­mula is hy­poal­ler­genic, for­mu­lated for sen­si­tive skin and free of ar­ti­fi­cial dyes and fra­grances. You can also run your clothes through an ex­tra rinse cy­cle at the end to make sure there aren’t any soap suds or residue left.


Sim­i­larly, avoid us­ing any cos­metic prod­ucts that con­tain added scents. Ar­ti­fi­cial fra­grances can fur­ther ir­ri­tate eczema-prone skin. It’s also a good idea to stay away from per­fumes. If you must, spritz it onto your clothes and avoid direct con­tact with your skin.


Al­co­hol-based hand sani­tis­ers tend to be harsh and dry­ing. These can de­hy­drate your skin and wipe out all bac­te­ria – both good and bad – from your hands. Dis­rupt­ing your body’s nat­u­ral mi­cro­biomes can fur­ther com­pro­mise your skin’s nat­u­ral pro­tec­tive bar­rier and lead to greater mois­ture loss in the long run. What’s worse, these sani­tis­ers are also of­ten laced with fra­grances – an­other big ir­ri­tant for sen­si­tive skin.


Strange as it may sound, it’s very pos­si­ble to be al­ler­gic to your own sweat. Sweat con­tains cer­tain com­pounds that can in­duce an al­ler­gic or in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tion in skin. This re­sponse is quite com­mon among eczema suf­fer­ers. Pre­vent this by mak­ing sure you have ready ac­cess to shower fa­cil­i­ties post-ex­er­cise and re­mem­ber to thor­oughly mois­turise af­ter bathing. Wear light­weight, breath­able cloth­ing as far as pos­si­ble, and wipe off ex­cess sweat if you’ve been out in the sun a lot.


Hor­monal fluc­tu­a­tions can be blamed for all sorts of weird bod­ily changes, and it’s cer­tainly re­lated to eczema flare-ups as well. When your body ex­pe­ri­ences a rise and fall in hor­mone lev­els such as dur­ing preg­nancy or at cer­tain times in your cy­cle, eczema symp­toms like dry­ness or itch­i­ness may be ag­gra­vated.

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