What Aggravates Eczema?

Do you ever wonder what triggers eczema flare-ups? From irritating fabrics to certain foods, several factors can aggravate this pesky skin condition. In this article, we will explore some common triggers that could be exacerbating your eczema symptoms. Stay tuned to discover effective ways to manage and prevent future flare-ups, allowing you to enjoy smoother and itch-free skin.

Weather and Environmental Factors

Hot and Cold Weather

Both hot and cold weather can aggravate eczema symptoms. In hot weather, excessive sweating can irritate the skin and trigger a flare-up. The heat can also make you feel itchy and uncomfortable. On the other hand, cold weather can cause dryness and lead to the skin losing its moisture. This can make your eczema worse, as dry skin is more prone to itching and inflammation.

Dry Air

Dry air is a common trigger for eczema. When the air is dry, it sucks out the moisture from your skin, leaving it dry and itchy. This can cause your eczema to flare up and make your skin feel tight and uncomfortable. Using a humidifier in your home can help add moisture to the air and alleviate some of the dryness.


While dry air can worsen eczema, high humidity levels can also be problematic for some people. When there is excess moisture in the air, it can make your skin feel sticky and sweaty, which can lead to itchiness and irritation. Finding a balance between humidity levels that work for your skin is important, as extreme humidity can exacerbate your eczema symptoms.


Sweating is a common trigger for eczema flare-ups. When you sweat, the moisture can get trapped on your skin and cause irritation and itching. Additionally, sweat contains salts and other substances that can further irritate your eczema-prone skin. It is important to shower or wash your face and body after sweating to remove any sweat residue and minimize the risk of flare-ups.

Irritating Substances

Soaps and Detergents

Soaps and detergents contain chemicals that can strip the natural oils from your skin, leading to dryness and irritation. This can trigger eczema flare-ups and make your skin more susceptible to allergens and irritants. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free soaps and detergents that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin to minimize the risk of aggravating your eczema.

Shampoos and Hair Products

Many shampoos and hair products contain harsh ingredients like sulfates and fragrances that can irritate eczema-prone skin on the scalp and around the hairline. It is important to choose gentle, hypoallergenic shampoos and hair products that are free of irritants and fragrance to avoid triggering a flare-up. Additionally, rinsing your hair thoroughly to remove all traces of the products can be beneficial.

Perfumes and Fragrances

Perfumes and fragrances are known irritants and can often worsen eczema symptoms. The chemicals in these products can cause inflammation and allergic reactions in sensitive skin. It is advisable to steer clear of perfumes and fragrances, especially those with strong scents, and opt for fragrance-free alternatives to minimize the risk of triggering a flare-up.

Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products, such as dish soaps, floor cleaners, and laundry detergents, contain strong chemicals that can be harsh on eczema-prone skin. These chemicals can strip away the natural oils in your skin and cause dryness and irritation. When using cleaning products, consider wearing gloves to protect your hands and try to use milder, fragrance-free options to reduce the risk of aggravating your eczema.

Fabrics and Clothing

Certain fabrics, such as wool and synthetic materials, can be irritating to eczema-prone skin. These materials can cause friction, leading to increased itching and inflammation. Opt for soft, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen that allow your skin to breathe. Additionally, wearing loose-fitting clothing can help reduce irritation and allow air circulation, which can be beneficial for managing eczema.



Pollen is a common allergen that can worsen eczema symptoms in individuals who are sensitive to it. When exposed to pollen, particularly during the spring and summer months, it can trigger an allergic reaction in the skin, leading to flare-ups. Avoiding outdoor activities during peak pollen times and keeping windows closed can help minimize pollen exposure.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny insects that thrive in humid environments and are a common trigger for eczema. Their droppings contain allergens that can irritate the skin, leading to flare-ups. It is important to maintain a clean and dust-free environment, regularly vacuuming carpets and upholstery, washing bedding in hot water, and using dust mite-proof covers on mattresses and pillows.

Pet Dander

Pet dander, which includes tiny flakes of skin, can trigger eczema symptoms in individuals with sensitivities. It is the proteins found in pet dander that cause an allergic reaction. If you have eczema and are allergic to pet dander, it is advisable to limit exposure to pets, keep them out of your bedroom, and wash your hands after petting them to reduce the risk of flare-ups.


Mold is a fungus that commonly grows in damp and humid environments. Mold spores can trigger eczema symptoms and cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Preventing mold growth in your living spaces through proper ventilation, controlling humidity levels, and promptly addressing any water leaks or dampness is crucial in minimizing exposure to mold and preventing flare-ups.

Certain Foods and Beverages

Dairy Products

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, contain a protein called casein, which can aggravate eczema symptoms in some individuals. If you suspect dairy products to be a trigger for your eczema, consider eliminating them from your diet or consulting with a healthcare professional for guidance.


Eggs are another common food allergen that can worsen eczema symptoms. If you notice flare-ups after consuming eggs, it may be worth considering eliminating them from your diet and observing if your symptoms improve. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes.

Nuts and Seeds

Certain nuts and seeds, such as peanuts, walnuts, and sesame seeds, can be triggers for eczema in some individuals. These foods contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions and worsen symptoms. If you suspect nuts or seeds to be a trigger, it may be beneficial to avoid them and monitor if your eczema improves.

Wheat and Gluten

Wheat and gluten sensitivity can manifest itself through various symptoms, including eczema flare-ups. For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, and rye from the diet may help alleviate eczema symptoms. However, it is important to seek guidance from a healthcare professional before making any dietary changes.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are acidic and can irritate eczema-prone skin. Some individuals may find that consuming citrus fruits leads to increased itchiness and inflammation. If you suspect citrus fruits to be a trigger, consider avoiding them or minimizing their consumption to see if it improves your eczema symptoms.


Certain spices, such as cinnamon, paprika, and cloves, can be triggers for eczema in some individuals. These spices contain compounds that can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate symptoms. If you notice flare-ups after consuming specific spices, it may be worth avoiding them or reducing their intake.


Alcohol, particularly certain types like red wine and beer, can trigger eczema flare-ups in some individuals. The histamine and sulfites found in alcoholic beverages can cause allergic reactions and worsen symptoms. Moderating or avoiding alcohol consumption altogether may help manage eczema symptoms for those sensitive to it.

Stress and Emotional Factors


Stress and anxiety can have a direct impact on eczema symptoms. Emotional factors like anxiety can trigger a release of stress hormones, which can lead to inflammation and worsen eczema symptoms. Managing anxiety through relaxation techniques, therapy, and stress reduction strategies can be beneficial for individuals with eczema.


Similar to anxiety, depression can also influence the severity of eczema symptoms. Depression weakens the immune system and can make it more challenging for the body to fight off inflammation, which can exacerbate eczema. Seeking help from a mental health professional and implementing self-care practices can aid in managing both depression and eczema.


Intense emotions like anger can lead to a release of stress hormones, which can trigger eczema flare-ups. It is essential to find healthy ways to manage anger and reduce its impact on your emotional well-being and eczema symptoms. Techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and seeking support from loved ones can be helpful in handling anger.


Frustration can arise from the challenges of living with eczema, which, in turn, can worsen symptoms. The stress and emotional burden of constantly managing the condition can contribute to increased inflammation and itchiness. Engaging in activities that bring joy, seeking support from others who understand your experience, and practicing self-compassion can help alleviate frustration and minimize its impact on eczema.


Living with visible eczema patches can lead to feelings of embarrassment and self-consciousness. The stress and anxiety associated with these emotions can trigger flare-ups and worsen eczema symptoms. It is important to prioritize self-care, surround yourself with understanding and supportive individuals, and seek professional help, if needed, to manage the emotional impact of eczema.

Infections and Illnesses


Infections like the flu can have an impact on eczema symptoms. When the immune system is busy fighting off an infection, there is less capacity to combat inflammation associated with eczema. Additionally, fever and overall illness can further exacerbate eczema symptoms. It is important to prioritize good hygiene, rest, and seek medical advice when dealing with infections to minimize the impact on your skin.

Common Cold

Similar to the flu, the common cold can worsen eczema symptoms due to the strain it places on the immune system. The combination of inflammation caused by the cold virus and the potential for dryness from nasal congestion can lead to increased irritation and itchiness. Practicing good hand hygiene, staying hydrated, and using gentle remedies to alleviate cold symptoms can be beneficial for individuals with eczema.

Staph Infections

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria commonly reside on the skin and can cause infections, especially in individuals with eczema. Staph infections can lead to more severe symptoms and flare-ups of eczema. It is crucial to maintain good skin hygiene, keep the skin moisturized, and promptly seek medical attention if you suspect a staph infection.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections, such as candidiasis, can often coexist with eczema and exacerbate symptoms. The warm and moist environment created by eczematous skin can provide an ideal breeding ground for yeast overgrowth. Antifungal treatments prescribed by a healthcare professional may be necessary to manage yeast infections alongside eczema.

Viral Infections

Certain viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), can trigger eczema herpeticum, a severe form of eczema characterized by painful blisters and fever. These infections require immediate medical attention. It is important to practice good hygiene and seek medical advice if you suspect a viral infection to minimize the risk of complications.

Excessive Scratching and Rubbing


Excessive friction on the skin can lead to increased irritation and scratching, which can worsen eczema symptoms. This can occur from wearing tight clothing, rough fabrics, or engaging in activities that cause repeated rubbing. Opting for soft fabrics and loose-fitting clothing and engaging in gentle activities can help minimize friction and reduce the urge to scratch.


Scratching is a natural instinct when faced with itchiness, but excessive scratching can disrupt the skin barrier and lead to further inflammation and potential infection. Breaking the itch-scratch cycle can be challenging, but finding alternative ways to relieve itching, such as cold compresses, moisturizers, or distraction techniques, is crucial for managing eczema and preventing flare-ups.


Rubbing the skin vigorously, especially with rough towels or fabrics, can irritate eczema-prone skin and worsen symptoms. It is important to be gentle when drying off after bathing or showering and use soft fabrics that are less likely to cause irritation. Patting the skin dry instead of rubbing can help minimize friction and reduce the risk of exacerbating eczema.

Allergic Reactions

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into direct contact with a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. Common irritants include certain metals, latex, and certain skincare ingredients. It is crucial to identify and avoid these triggers to prevent flare-ups and manage eczema effectively.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as allergic eczema, is a chronic condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It is often triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. Identifying and minimizing exposure to these allergens, coupled with proper skincare and treatment, can help manage atopic dermatitis and reduce symptoms.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when your skin reacts to a substance that irritates it, even if you are not necessarily allergic to it. Harsh chemicals, certain fabrics, and even frequent handwashing can lead to irritant contact dermatitis. Protecting the skin with gloves, using milder products, and moisturizing regularly can help prevent this type of dermatitis.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed allergic reaction that occurs when your immune system sensitizes to a substance over time, causing a reaction upon subsequent exposure. Common triggers include certain fragrances, preservatives, and chemicals found in skincare products. Identifying and avoiding these triggers with the help of patch testing by a dermatologist can be beneficial in managing allergic contact dermatitis and eczema.

Hormonal Changes


Hormonal changes during puberty can affect eczema symptoms. The surge in hormonal activity can lead to increased oil production and heightened sensitivity in the skin. This can result in flare-ups and worsened symptoms. Regular skincare, appropriate treatments, and stress management techniques can help manage eczema during this period.

Menstrual Cycles

The hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle can influence eczema symptoms in some individuals. Some women may notice that their symptoms worsen in the days leading up to their period. Ensuring proper skincare, managing stress levels, and discussing options with a healthcare professional can help mitigate the impact of hormonal changes on eczema.


Pregnancy can lead to fluctuations in hormone levels, which can impact eczema symptoms. Some women experience improvement in their eczema during pregnancy, while others may see flare-ups. It is important to communicate any concerns or changes in symptoms to a healthcare professional, who can provide appropriate guidance and treatment options during pregnancy.


Menopause brings significant hormonal changes, which can affect eczema symptoms for some women. The drop in estrogen levels can lead to increased dryness and itchiness in the skin, potentially triggering flare-ups. Using gentle skincare products, moisturizing regularly, and exploring hormone replacement therapy options with a healthcare professional can help manage eczema during menopause.



Antibiotics, while beneficial for treating bacterial infections, can sometimes disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria on the skin and gut. This disruption can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, potentially worsening eczema symptoms. It is important to follow prescribed antibiotic regimens and discuss any concerns or changes in symptoms with a healthcare professional.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can aggravate eczema symptoms in some individuals. These medications have been known to trigger allergic reactions or exacerbate existing conditions. If you suspect NSAIDs to be a trigger, consult with a healthcare professional to explore alternative pain relief options.


Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can potentially worsen eczema symptoms in some individuals. While the exact reasons are not fully understood, it is advisable to discuss any changes in symptoms with a healthcare professional if you are taking antidepressant medications and have eczema.


Opioid medications, commonly used for pain management, can have side effects that impact the skin and worsen eczema symptoms. They can cause itchiness, dryness, and increase the risk of infections. Discussing alternative pain management options with a healthcare professional may be necessary to minimize the impact of opioids on eczema.