Eczema 101: Common Causes and Triggers
If you struggle with eczema, know that you’re not alone. Nearly 31.6 million people in the U.S. have some form of eczema – that’s over 10% of the population! According to the National Eczema Association, 1 in 10 people will develop eczema during their lifetime.
First, What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition commonly associated with symptoms of redness, dryness, inflammation, and itchiness. And while we normally think of just one skin condition when we hear the word “eczema,” it’s actually a blanket term used to describe a set of skin conditions and rashes. There are different types of eczema, the most common type being atopic dermatitis (AD), which most people associate with the skin condition.
The most common symptoms:
Eczema in Skin of Color
Eczema is the second most frequent skin disease affecting African Americans, though it might be widely underdiagnosed. In the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, African American and Asian American children are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis eczema than white children. In addition, the National Eczema Association estimates that Black or Hispanic children with AD in the U.S. are likely to have more severe cases of the disease than white children and are less likely to see a doctor for their eczema.
And while eczema is just as common – if not more so – in skin of color, less than 5 percent of images in general medicine textbooks showed conditions on darker skin, making it more difficult for doctors to diagnose eczema on melanin-rich skin.Luckily, more representation and education are helping bridge eczema awareness in skin of color but, as always, it’s important to be your own skin and healthcare advocate.
If you think you might have eczema, this short quiz by Aveeno can help you determine. We also recommend visiting your dermatologist or other health care professional for proper advice, diagnosis, and possible treatment.
How is Eczema Different in Skin of Color?
While eczema is commonly described as a red, itchy rash (which is how it appears on lighter skin tones), it often looks different on darker skin tones. On skin of color, eczema patches may look darker than the rest of the skin and can have a purple, ashen gray, or dark brown tint. Eczema is most often found on the fronts of the arms and legs and around the elbows on black skin, though it can appear anywhere on the body.
Dryness is a primary symptom for eczema-prone skin of color, though discoloration is often a bigger concern. Current research suggests black skin with eczema has higher levels of inflammation and irritation, leading to areas of discoloration that can last for months. This pigment change makes it even more essential for people of color to get their eczema diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Symptoms to look for:
Why Do People Get Eczema?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Genetics and genetic mutations can play a prominent role in developing eczema, but there ultimately isn’t a clear reason why some people get eczema. What is for sure is the skin barrier’s role in leaving some skin vulnerable to the condition. When your skin becomes compromised or highly sensitized, inflammatory cells will gather in the affected area; this creates a chain response that can trigger an eczema flare.
Common Eczema Triggers
Knowing what triggers your eczema to flare up is one of the best ways to help manage your symptoms. Everyone is different, so what causes your eczema flare-up might not be the same as someone else’s. But here are some things to look for:
Determine Your Stressors
Like we said, eczema is personal. So pay attention to any changes in products, stress levels, diet, exercise, hormones, etc.,that may have caused your flare-up. If you know what to look out for, it’s easier to evade.
Pay Attention to Weather Changes
Unfortunately, almost any kind of weather change can irritate your eczema. Experts aren’t exactly sure why this is, but changes in humidity and temperature levels are likely culprits. If the shift from warm to cold weather triggers your eczema, keep your skin moisturized with soothing, eczema-safe skincare. On the flip side, if hot, humid weather triggers it, try your best to stay cool and hydrated.
Observe How Your Skin Reacts to Foods
Some eczema flares are connected to food. Food allergies or sensitivities are known eczema triggers for some, while others experience flare-ups after consumption of inflammatory foods (think: fatty fast food, processed snacks, and soda).
Stress and Emotional Well-Being
Stress and anxiety aren’t the initial causes of eczema, but they can trigger a flare-up. Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can dysregulate the immune system and cause inflammatory skin responses, which makes it vital to manage your stress and anxiety. To keep stress levels down, dedicate time to self-soothing activities that make you feel good. If you’re struggling with stress and emotional well-being, connect with a mental health professional who can lead you on the right track.
Yep, dry skin can cause even worse dry skin—aka eczema. When skin becomes too dry, and the skin barrier is impaired, symptoms of rough, itchy, scaly skin can increase your chances of an eczema flare.
That’s why it’s so essential to keep your skin moisturized all year round. Our Soothing Eczema Body Butter was specifically formulated to help soothe eczema symptoms and help you feel more confident in your skin. This all-natural body butter is made with high-quality organic ingredients that alleviate dryness, redness, and itchiness.
A base of organic shea butter, cupuacu butter, and babassu butter provides at-home eczema relief by increasing moisture retention, calming inflammation, and forming a protective layer over the skin’s surface. Organic plant oils – oat, rosehip, sunflower, vitamin E, olive – rich in antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and other anti-inflammatory compounds soothe and hydrate the skin. We’ve also added organic neem oil and powder, an ayurvedic ingredient known for decreasing inflammation and promoting healing, helping improve the appearance of eczema-affected skin.