Causes for eczema flare-ups & how to prevent them

I had eczema since I was young, but I didn’t know what it was and always thought it was normal to experience extreme itch in the same areas, especially after taking showers at night. I really should have known earlier as this condition seems to run in my family. But it was only after I was in my teens and read about skin conditions that I realized mine was eczema. And it is a little late that I only started narrowing down what triggers or worsens my eczema flare ups recently. In fact, I made some discoveries that really disappointed me because some of my favourite foods are actually not good for eczema.

Internal factors that cause my flare-ups
Whenever I get stressed or busy in general, and have late nights, I get more prone to having these flare-ups. Also, certain foods I eat have actually worsened my eczema getting worse but I have only noticed this recently by accident. Like one of the foods I have to avoid is corn, and for my whole life I have been eating corn because I love it! The last time when I ate cobs of corn, I had an intense, painful itch on my legs to the point of a burning itchy sensation a few hours later. I also have to avoid wheat, eggs, peanuts, dairy and seafood. The good thing is although I have to avoid these foods as much as I can, I find that my eczema worsens only when I take these foods in huge quantities…which means, I can still eat them in moderation.

External factors that triggers the flare-ups
Apart from my diet, I have to make sure I do not let my legs get too dry because the worst areas of eczema I have are on my shins. I also have to make sure I keep myself clean in terms of not sweating too much and not having contact with excessive amounts of dust. So just this condition itself is contradicting as I try to shower or wash my legs whenever I get dirty, but I have to make sure I moisturize afterwards because staying too long under water dries out the skin too. I also find that when I do cave in and scratch my itchy spots and the skin breaks and become dead skin flakes, I have to wash my fingernails carefully to prevent spreading to other areas that my fingers may get into contact next.

Another thing is, I can’t spend too much time in the shower as water dries the skin really quickly the moment I step out of the shower. I also avoid any body wash and face wash that has harsh surfactants like SLS, SLES and ALS as they’re almost a definite factor to cause a flare-up. I also can’t use commercial toothpaste with SLS as it makes the edges of my lips painfully dry and red.

Tips to keep eczema under control
1. Stop scratching & keeping nails short
I have seen how bad eczema can get if it is not controlled or taken care of, and because I didn’t want to use steroid creams or have it get worse, the best I could do was not to scratch it too much. Ideally I wouldn’t scratch it at all, but if you have eczema you would know how painfully itchy it gets at times and I have to slap my legs till they’re swollen to reduce the itch. Although I have doing very well in keeping my skin looking normal, but if you look at my shins close up, you will see that they are actually a little dry and scaly looking – kind of like the skin of an old person. It saddens me to see my shins like this but I’m lucky this can only be noticed really closed up. And to prevent myself from scratching it unknowingly at night, I keep my nails short and I buff and file them so they are not sharp.

2. Bring a moisturizing body mist spray when exercising
Sweat can also trigger itchy spots, especially in Singapore’s climate. So what I do is I always carry a small bottle of Avene’s thermal spring water when I go exercising and there isn’t any place to shower after that. What I do is I spray generously on my eczema areas after I’m done exercising and then I use a clean dry cloth to gently wipe dry. It cools the skin and removes the sweat as well.

Do’s and don’ts for those who have eczema?
I’m sure quite a number of people suffer from eczema as a couple of my friends are like me and it seems to me that almost 1 in 10 people have it. So for those who have eczema, do you know what triggers your eczema flare-ups and do you have any tips to share to lessen the discomfort?


  1. signi caine says:

    I have 4 children all involved in competitive swimming and suffering from skin conditions… eczema being one of them. I developed a moisturizing cream that gas helping them incredibly! Beautiful organic oils are used such as coconut and olive oil as well as lavender oil ( has anti-bacterial properties) check out my web page for more! Thanks for your eczema input!

  2. signi caine says:

    sorry about my spelling errors…been a long day…my web page is!

  3. Kristi aka FiberFool says:

    I too have eczema on my shins. I’m also highly prone to in-grown hairs and find waxing/sugaring (I love Moom strips) is best for the vast majority of my legs. But everything you read about waxing says to not do so over patches of eczema. What do you do for hair removal on your shins where your eczema is?
    Kristi aka FiberFool last post is: Summer Inspired Breakfast On The Go

  4. Tani says:

    Well I found out that eczema was caused by the lack of enzymes in the stomache and stomache lining! My son suffered with eczema when he was a baby and they were super red and oozing of clear liquid. The doctor said told me that there wasn’t a cure for it, and the only option was to prescribed my son steroid creams. For me that wasn’t an option anymore, so I stopped applying that and looked for my own solution. Through my own research I found out that papyas are loaded with enzymes, as a matter of fact it’s the fruit with the most enzymes, yet it’s gentle on the stomache. Pineapples are also known for having strong enzymes, but they are too acidic. Avoid eating it everyday. I fed my little guy papaya for almost 2 years and it went away perminently!!!!!! So I highly recommend that you give it a try. If you haven’t given papaya a shot then you haven’t tried it all!!!! =D

  5. Tani says:

    P.s. Sorry for my grammar, I totally forgot to check it #k8SjZc9Dxk.#k8SjZc9Dxk

    And I also wanted to say that I have high hopes for you all!!!
    You don’t have to live day to day with eczema, it can be cured!!!!

  6. Cassie says:

    Thanks for sharing! Will take a look at it. ?

  7. Cassie says:

    Good point about the hair removal! I normally just shave and needless to say, i have to moisturize like mad as soon after that. But recently i found a way to shave without aggravating it! Will share it here next week!

  8. Cassie says:

    Hi tani, not sure if u commented before but i did try taking some papaya based on a previous commenter’s suggestion tht was very similar to yours. My main concern of eating papaya so frequently is the sugar intake though.

  9. Katie says:

    Hello! I have eczema on the palm of my hand. I take Omega 3-6-9 capsules – it has to be the full spectrum capsules, the standard Omega3 fish oil doesn’t work for me. It’s worse when I get stressed, so I’ve been trying relaxation techniques. Plenty of unscented hand cream (I had to experiment to find one that doesn’t make me itch), and when I have a flare-up, I use Germolene Cream. It’s very thick and moisturising, is an antiseptic and numbing properties, which helps the itching. But I have heard that the solution is different for everyone, so all I can say is experiment and don’t give up!

  10. Chantana says:

    I have very bad and super ugly eczama too (on my knees)… and I can’t stop scatching it!!! I mask icy cold towel over my eczema area to ease the itch.

  11. Ana says:

    I’m very thankful that my flareups have subsided over the years, but yes, I do have to pay special attention to moisturizing.

    When I had my first flareup, at 9, it was awful, especially since I was a kid and didn’t know why it was happening or what to do.
    Ana last post is: Photo

  12. Sue says:

    wow! finally someone understands me!! U.U
    I suffer eczema too! but i usually have on my face which is really bothersome… i have tried many many things, but it doesnt get better (not even my dermatologist has been able to help me) so i use steroid creams because they are the only ones that can “help” me… if i dont use anything besides a mosturizer my face covers in a BIG allergy and it turns really red, itchy and u just want to scratch ur face (of course i dont XD)
    I cant stand sun, cold, hot and windy weather (yeahh..), i better dont hurt myself or i will probably get a big allergy that can only heal with antibiotics, no dust, no animals, no mites, no seefood (but i still doubt if im allergic to it.. haha), stress….. well too many to remember… >.<

  13. Sue says:

    i didnt know that! but doesnt work for me.. i eat papaya almost everydays… haha! well… may be it is because my eczema is so strong? lol anyways, thanks for sharing!

  14. leah says:

    i am the third in a line of women with eczema, but of coarse mine covers the most skin. i find it mainly on my hands. in fact several of my nails look like washboards as a result of this condition. i work as a janitor and that can really irritate my skin. ive noticed that when the weather changes quickly, i seem to have a flare up, so now when going between buildings and a car in cold weather i wear driving gloves to help with this. also, i found that citric foods, like oranges, pineapples, or even just their juice is enough to make me itch, but it usually has a delayed reaction of a day or two.

  15. Nicci says:

    I get eczema on my eye lid – which flares up if I get stressed. I can’t use creams because the area is too delicate. However I have found eating papaya really does clear it up. I just have to really persevere as I can’t stand the taste!!

  16. Sesame says:

    Oh that’s very interesting! And I totally understand what you mean about the taste!

  17. Kendra says:

    This is interesting. I googled eczema and papaya because I was just cutting a papaya and had a HORRIBLE reaction to it! My hands are so itchy and feel like they are on fire. I eat it quite regularly and haven’t had a problem this bad before. I always notice it with pineapple, though.

  18. Randy says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information, I have been searching for a good treatment for my atopic dermatitis eczema for a while with no success. Thanks again

  19. Linda Goldman says:

    I shaved my legs in the shower two weeks ago. Suddenly noticed a rash everywhere that I shaved. I thought it was flees or bedbugs. No itching. Just red rash under my skin on both legs.

  20. Colin Thomas says:

    Knowing what triggers your eczema is more than half the battle won, so congratulations on that!

    The key for me has always been a basic daily routine to take a cold / lukewarm shower, and moisturize immediately after drying up. I would do this even when the skin is clear as this would help prevent the sensitive skin patches from drying up and causing more irritation. Bring along a small packaging of your regular moisturizer and reapply whenever necessary.

    While it may sound counterintuitive, you should apply thinly in hot weather too. The moisturizer would serve as a physical barrier and keep the irritants away.

  21. Reyn says:

    I am not sure if i do have an eczema, I am pregnant ang as per my OB it is a normal allergy. I got surfing the net to get some ideas of what it is. And per checking of pictures and many blogs, it seems it is an eczema. Mine is very worst, i have it on my both legs and it is very dry, it cracks and there’s a light fluid coming out in my cracked skin.

    Can i apply something on the part of affected area when it is worst/severe?

  22. Hyo says:

    I’m pregnant and I was getting bad eczema on my shins. In trying to stay away from products with steroid in them, I tried foderma serum as well as other steroid eczema creams and foderma is the only one that works. Within three days my itchy, scabby, dry skin was smooth, soft and not itchy!

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