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7 Common Eczema Triggers And How To Avoid Them

If you've been looking for some eczema relief, read on.

Beauty & Fashion

Eczema is something that has come to fascinate me over the past few years. The reason why is because, although I know some people who have eczema (some worse than others), it wasn't until about six or seven years ago that I noticed a patch behind each ear myself. As someone who has a fungal sensitivity and really no other health issues, I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on.


When I discovered the fact that eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) was a skin inflammation issue, that there are basically seven different types of eczema (you can read more about that here) and that while it's more probable in individuals who have family members that have it, the reality is there are triggers that can cause almost anyone to have a flare-up, I decided to share what some of those triggers are with you.

Because anyone who's had the constant itchiness and/or scaly skin and/or weeping blisters knows that if there is anything that can be done to keep eczema at bay, it's best that you do it. Anyway, here are seven common things that can cause eczema to show all the way out.

1. Diet

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Personally, when it comes to what causes the area behind my ears to get irritated by eczema, I'm willing to bet that it's my diet more than anything. While I strive to eat pretty responsibly most of the time, right around my period, I tend to be on some other ish.

For instance, remember how I said that the root issue of eczema is skin inflammation? Well, wouldn't it make total sense that foods that cause inflammation could cause eczema to happen from time to time? Some of those foods include dairy (which is my thing when I decide to go all in on ice cream and pizza during PMS), sugar, gluten, soy, tomatoes, citrus fruit, eggs and even spices like cinnamon and vanilla.

Does this mean that you have to give all of this up? Lawd, life would suck if you did, right? It's more like, what you might want to do is either go by a process of elimination to see which foods personally affect you or opt to not eat several of those foods at the same time. Besides, it's not like a lot of dairy, sugar or soy are the best things for you, anyway. A bout of eczema may be just what you need to remind you of that very fact.

2. Dry Skin

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Tell me something. How good are you at keeping your skin nice and moisturized? If you've always been curious about how you can know for sure that your skin is well-hydrated, make sure that you "seal" it by moisturizing it while it is still damp. Also, it's important to drink lots of water throughout the day and to pay close attention to if your skin feels tight or if your make-up looks "cake-y" when you put it on (by the way, signs that you're over-moisturizing is your pores are clogged, your skin keeps breaking out and/or you're noticing that your skin isn't absorbing whatever you put on it).

When this doesn't happen, it can cause your skin to become super dry, flaky and scaly. And that can definitely cause eczema to rear its ugly head. So, definitely make moisturization a priority. Your skin will always thank you for it if you do.

3. Stress

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While I'm not personally an avid Tyler Perry movie watcher, there is a line from his film Temptation that I adore and use semi-often. It's a scene from when Vanessa Williams's character said, "Good luck with your struggle." Here's the context. A bad habit that I used to have with my clients is I would sometimes find myself far more invested in them getting better than they were which resulted in my becoming more stressed out than I ever needed to be. And looka here — as you get older (and hopefully wiser), you learn that anything/anyone that comes with a lot of stress, it just isn't worth the time or even the paycheck.

One of the reasons why is because long-term stress is tied to health-related issues like obesity, diabetes, asthma, headaches, depression and even shortened longevity. Girl, no person, place, thing or idea is worth all of that drama.

And just what does all of this have to do with eczema? While many health professionals do not believe that stress actually causes eczema to occur, when we're stressed out and the cortisol (our natural stress-related hormone) increases, that can result in bodily inflammation which can ultimately lead to eczema symptoms. That's why, I don't care if it's meditation, exercise, sex, sleep or releasing some people, watch your stress levels. If you don't, your skin could alert you that things have gone way too far.

4. Allergens

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Out of all of what I've already shared, this probably makes a lot of sense when you think about the fact that airborne allergens like mold, dander and pollen have the ability to weaken your immune system over time and potentially irritate your skin which could also cause an eczema outbreak. So, what should you do in this instance? Vacuum regularly. Change your sheets no less than once a week. And speak with your physician about whether or not you should take an antihistamine. The less your body reacts to allergens, the greater your chances will be of avoiding eczema on your skin.

5. Household Chemicals

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Remember how I said in the intro that there are different types of eczema? Well, there's one in particular that is also known as contact dermatitis. It's when your skin is triggered by things like soaps, cleaning products and clothing dyes. Not only that but the chemicals in hair dyes and cosmetics, along with the perfumes that may be in all of these things, can also cause an eczema flare-up to occur. While you will need to see your doctor in order to confirm that this is the cause of the itching, burning, tenderness, inflammation or scaling that you might see, chances are that if you go with products that are as natural as possible and fragrance-free, that could help relieve eczema-related symptoms. Significantly so.

6. Hormonal Shifts

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Here's a heads up, especially if you are perimenopausal or are currently going through menopause. Something that happens during this particular season of life is our estrogen levels start to significantly decrease. Once this happens, it can be more challenging for our bodies to maintain enough fluid to keep our skin moisturized. And, as I already shared, when our skin is dry, eczema can oftentimes become triggered as a direct result.

Typically, perimenopause starts to occur between 7-10 years before the time when you go without a period for a year (which is official menopause). So, if you're noticing a lot of fatigue, hot flashes, a lower libido, vaginal dryness, irregular periods or incontinence, please see your doctor as soon as possible. They can discuss what you can do to get your estrogen levels up, so that hopefully, eczema won't be as much of an issue.

By the way, it's not uncommon for estrogen levels to teeter right before your period too. If that happens, some foods that are natural sources of estrogen include dried fruit, garlic, peaches, berries, wheat bran, flaxseeds and alfalfa sprouts.

7. Extreme Temperatures

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One more. If it seems like things are all good during the spring and fall, only for all hell to break loose when summer and winter roll around, that probably isn't a random occurrence. The truth of the matter is that summer can cause excess sweating and the salt that comes from it can cause itching and lead to the spread of eczema. On the flip side, the cold winter air can cause your skin to become extra dry and we already discussed what can come from that. So, in the summer, stay hydrated and try not to spend hours in the heat before cooling down. In the winter, don't forget to moisturize and consider sleeping with a humidifier, so that extra moisture can travel through the air while you sleep and protect your skin. Just one more way to keep eczema triggers from totally bothering you.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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