Different Categories of Eczema Triggers.
Common Personal and Environmental Causes of Eczema.
Irritating Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare Products.
Potentially Troublesome Foods for Eczema Sufferers.
The Proton Health Skin Score System for Tracking Eczema Symptoms and Triggers.
The Benefits of Journaling and the Hawthorne Effect in Managing Eczema.
Identifying Personal and Environmental Triggers with the Proton Health App.
Uncovering Irritants and Allergies.
The Switcheroo Technique for Finding Out What Causes Eczema Flare-Ups.
An important part of managing eczema is by first understanding what's causing it. Similar to driving without a GPS, it's impossible to know where you're headed if you have no directions or coordinates. That's why in this blog we'll cover the common causes of flare-ups, how to reduce their impact and how you can discover your own eczema triggers.
Eczema Triggers - The Key To Preventing Flare-Ups
One of the best ways to prevent flare-ups is by controlling your triggers. They damage the skin by causing irritation. This leads to inflammation, which weakens the skin barrier. To bring them under control, you need to be aware of the various shapes that they can take. Triggers tend to come in 4 flavours:
Here’s a breakdown of what they include:
Personal - These are anything you're in control of that may trigger your eczema. They include your mood, sleep, skincare routine, exercise, diet and water intake.
Environmental – These are environmental factors often out of your control — weather, pollen, humidity and air pollution.
Irritants – Some substances can cause you trouble without realising it. Irritants are a prime example. They tend to be found in products such as soaps, shampoos and fragrances. Their ingredients have been scientifically recognised as irritating many people's skin, not just those with eczema.
Foods – Allergies, intolerances and certain foods like eggs have been shown to irritate the skin of those with eczema.
A Breakdown Of Common Causes Of Eczema Flare-Ups
1. Personal Factors:
Sleep: Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can weaken the immune system and exacerbate eczema symptoms.
Stress: Stress can cause a hormonal imbalance and immune system response that may trigger flare-ups.
Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as during menstrual cycles or pregnancy, can impact eczema.
Illness: Common colds, the flu, or infections can stimulate an immune response leading to a flare-up.
2. Environmental Factors:
Weather: Dry, cold air can make the skin more prone to dryness and itching. Conversely, hot, humid weather can lead to sweating and irritation, triggering a flare-up.
Allergens: Environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mould, and pet dander can trigger eczema in some people.
Hard Water: High mineral content in water can dry out the skin and exacerbate eczema.
Soap and Detergents: Harsh soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents can strip away the skin's natural oils, causing dryness and irritation.
Clothing: Synthetic fabrics or wool can be irritating to the skin. Cotton clothing is generally better tolerated.
Fragrances and Dyes: Artificial fragrances and dyes in personal care products can be irritating to sensitive skin.
Sweat and Saliva: In babies, drool can be a skin irritant. In adults and children, sweat can also cause irritation and lead to a flare-up.
In addition, there are several ingredients that are found in various products including skincare ingredients. You should be on the lookout for the following:
Fragrance: This is a broad term that can encompass thousands of individual ingredients, many of which can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): These are commonly used as foaming agents in soaps, shampoos, and body washes. They can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation.
Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben): Used as preservatives in many skincare products, parabens can cause skin irritation in some people.
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing Preservatives: These are used to prolong the shelf-life of skincare products. However, formaldehyde is a known allergen that can cause skin reactions.
Alcohol (denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol): Found in many skincare products, it can dry out the skin, leading to irritation and potential flare-ups.
Retinol and Retinoids: While these can have benefits for many skin types, they can also cause irritation and dryness, particularly for those with sensitive skin or eczema.
Essential Oils: Though natural, many essential oils can be irritating to the skin. Examples include citrus oils like bergamot or grapefruit, and others like peppermint.
Dyes: Artificial dyes can be a trigger for some people with eczema.
Propylene Glycol: It's used in a variety of skincare products to enhance product penetration, but can be irritating to the skin.
Dairy: Dairy products, particularly cow's milk, can be a trigger for some people.
Eggs: Eggs are a common allergen and can trigger eczema in some people.
Gluten: Some individuals with eczema may have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten.
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are common allergens that can trigger eczema in some people.
Soy: Soy and soy products can be a trigger for some people.
What Causes Eczema Flare-Ups: The Proton Health Skin Score System
Just like a broken car, you can't fix your eczema if you don't know what's causing it. That's why we've created a simple system to track your symptoms and triggers in less than 30 seconds. It's known as the Skin Score method and uses evidence based techniques and advanced machine-learning to automatically understand what's causing your personal and environmental triggers over time.
The Skin Score method is a bit like an eczema credit score: the higher your Skin Score, the better your skin condition. Based on systems that doctors use, the Skin Score allows you to monitor your skin without waiting for a doctor's appointment.
Journaling and The Hawthorne Effect
The benefits of tracking your symptoms go well beyond discovering your triggers. In fact, journalling your symptoms in general have many other benefits including the powerful Hawthorne Effect…
The Hawthorne Effect, discovered by the Hawthorne Works company, shows that being observed improves behaviour and productivity. Imagine that, simply being observed helps to improve the thing that we're observing! This principle has been applied to various industries, including calorie tracking for weight loss. For eczema sufferers, monitoring your Skin Score can lead to improvements in skin condition.
Journaling is highly recommended by doctors and even national eczema guidelines due to its numerous benefits:
Reduces stress, a factor that contributes to what causes eczema flare-ups
Strengthens the immune system, helping to fight flare-ups
Enhances emotional resilience by providing a bigger-picture perspective
By reducing stress and dampening the immune response, journaling can help manage eczema flare-ups.
Discovering Personal and Environmental Triggers
The Proton Health app is designed to help you identify and tackle your Personal triggers. By monitoring your Skin Score each day, the app begins to recognise how your mood, sleep and skincare routine impact your risk of flare-ups. You’ll then receive personalised content to help tackle the most troublesome with real time coaching and advice.
As for the environment, our algorithms automatically detect the area’s temperature, humidity, UV levels and air pollution. We then provide a Threat Score, which indicates the potential environmental impact on your skin. Then, as you continue to use the app, it begins to discover which weather changes impact your skin the most and give you insights on how to minimise their impact.
Irritants and Allergies: Where To Start?
These two categories are a lot more complicated. This is because, as eczema sufferers, we’re prone to Type II Hypersensitivity reactions. This means that we don’t react immediately to our irritants or allergies. Instead, the reaction happens after 48-72 hours. By this time, we have no idea what we came into contact with in the past 24 hours, let alone the past few days.
A common approach is to have an allergy test to discover any food intolerances. Skin prick testing is the most common method. It involves pricking the skin with potential allergens, and an allergy marker (called IgE) is measured. Unfortunately, the marker levels are not always reliable, and it turns out that this is the best we’ve got. Sigh.
But all is not lost because we’ve created a groundbreaking concept; the Switcheroo technique. It’s designed to help you discover any of your irritants or food allergies without having to stop all items at once.
The Switcheroo Technique - A Foolproof Way To Discover What Causes Eczema Flare-Ups
In short, the Switcheroo Technique works by swapping out different products and foods at various times to determine which one is the pesky problem.
Here’s how it's done…
List all of your possible irritants and food triggers. This gives you a list of all the likely culprits.
Go ahead and replace one of these with a hypo-allergenic version. These are versions that are specifically designed to avoid irritating your skin. If another version isn’t available or it’s a food item, you can stop eating/using it altogether.
Continue with the rest of your potential irritants as you usually would.
Make sure to track your eczema for a minimum of 7 days during the week. Note your symptoms and feelings (you can do this easily within the Proton Health app).
If you’re using the app, our algorithm will determine if your Skin Score has improved or decreased by avoiding this potential trigger. Otherwise, note down if your skin has improved or worsened.
If your skin improves, we may well have your culprit. Because by not coming into contact with this trigger, your eczema is better!
To ensure this is the harmful irritant, retry the potential trigger again and see if your flare-ups return.
If they do, you’ll have successfully Switcherooed this trigger. You stopped using the product, and your eczema got better, and by retrying it again, it's worse. So you now know to avoid this at all costs.
On the other hand, if you keep flaring up, this irritant is unlikely to be the baddy. So you'll need to repeat the technique from the beginning with another product.
Don’t forget to track your Skin Score regularly. Over time, the app will begin to learn your personal triggers. Additionally, you’ll find an environmental analysis to protect you from the elements. We’ve also incorporated the Switcheroo Technique, so you’ll do the above on autopilot.
Learn More Here:
Eczema Causes And Triggers | National Eczema Association - https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/
Top Eczema Triggers To Avoid | WebMD - https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/ss/slideshow-top-eczema-triggers
Reasons Why Your Eczema Might Be Flaring Up | Healthline - https://www.healthline.com/health/severe-eczema/triggers-how-to-avoid
Eczema flare-ups can be reduced by understanding and managing personal, environmental, irritant, and food triggers.
The Proton Health app aids in uncovering these triggers, utilizing the Skin Score system and the Switcheroo technique.
Journaling your symptoms and experiences can also help manage eczema through stress reduction and the Hawthorne Effect.
It's crucial to avoid products with irritating ingredients and potential food allergens identified as personal triggers.