Much like psoriasis, eczema is an inflammatory condition that can result in itchy, scaly skin. It’s not curable, but it can be controlled — and one of the best things you can do is keep your eczema in check by knowing and avoiding your triggers. Triggers are external conditions that aggravate your eczema, resulting in more and worse flare-ups. Exact triggers can vary from person-to-person, but there are some common threads.

Eczema occurs on the skin, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many triggers are skin-based. As a result, if you treat your skin right, you’ll often find your eczema symptoms reduced. This means wearing loose, comfortable clothing that breathes. You should also avoid extreme heat or cold, as well as sunburns. Sticking to fragrance-free personal products and laundry detergent is also a good move for anyone with a skin condition — or with sensitive skin in general.

While skin-based triggers are mostly intuitive, there are also some less obvious triggers that eczema patients have discovered. While the exact science is still ongoing, there is growing evidence that many common foods can trigger an eczema outbreak. Dairy, eggs, and soy are frequent culprits — as are peanuts and tree nuts. Some patients also find their flare-ups are reduced by avoiding acidic, spicy and peppery foods. For a more complete list, check out “Eczema and Diet: The Top 8 Food Triggers.”

Once you’ve identified your physical eczema triggers, they can often be easily avoided. Less easy to avoid are psychological triggers. Stress, for example, can contribute heavily to eczema flare-ups. This can be particularly tricky because the discomfort and embarrassment caused by eczema can often, in turn, lead to even more stress, thus creating a cycle that’s hard to break. When discussing your eczema and triggers with your doctor, be sure to also talk about stress, depression, anxiety, or any other emotional factors that may be caused by — or the cause of — your outbreaks.

By learning and avoiding your triggers, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your eczema in check and under control.

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