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Causes of eczema and dermatitis and how to eliminate them

Toxic Cleaning ProductsFirst of all eczema is used as a general term for many types of skin inflammation and itching skin (also called dermatitis) and allergic-type skin rashes. There are many things that can irritate your skin. There are two basic types of causes for eczema and dermatitis in your home; allergens and irritants. Some reactions happen on the surface of your skin and some reactions happen internally but show up as irritation on your skin.

Contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis are two different forms of eczema. Contact dermatitis is an external reaction that occurs when your skin comes in contact with something your are allergic to or a chemical that is irritating to your skin. This type of eczema is the easiest to figure out and correct.

Atopic dermatitis is the result of an internal reaction by your immune system to an irritant or allergen. When your immune system interacts with the trigger, and typically another component in your body such as irregular hormones, food allergies or stress-related toxins, the result is an eczema outbreak on your skin that is painful, swollen, and itchy. This rash can occur anywhere on your skin, not just at the spot where you contacted the allergen or irritant. Atopic dermatitis is the hardest type of eczema to eliminate, because it is hard to know what to look for, when two elements are involved.

The irritant may also be a common household chemical. Some of the more common chemical irritants are laundry detergent, fabric softeners, cleaning solvents, latex products, and nail varnish. However, you may eliminate all these things and still find you are breaking out. If that is the case, check many of the items you use on a regular basis, such as the synthetic fibers in your bedding, clothes, furnitures, rugs and your beauty products, to make sure they are not irritating your eczema. Also look for mold, mildew and pet dander in your environment which can serve as a trigger for allergies. Many people have a reaction to lime juice, hand sanitizers, antiperspirants, hair removal products, antibiotic ointments and even metal zippers and snaps (it’s the nickel).

Some allergens in your foods can contribute to your atopic dermatitis. Foods like peanuts, strawberries, food coloring, cow milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts, wheat and other food additives are known to cause internal and external eczema.

Here are a few tips for avoiding skin irritation:

1. Read labels. Know exactly which chemicals are in the product you’re using. Try to avoid products that contain ingredients you’ve had a reaction to in the past. Follow directions on the label so you know you’re using the cleaning product safely.

2. Go alternative. “Green” cleaners won’t necessarily prevent dermatitis, but they are generally gentler on the skin, not to mention on the environment. Look for cleaning products labeled “fragrance and dye-free” or “all natural,” or try an old-fashion cleaner like baking soda. Nellies makes a very good All Natural Washing Soda

Bottom line: Be your own detective. You are the best one to narrow down and eliminate irritants in your surrounds. Why spend the money on allergy patch testing when you can do a more accurate elimination trial on your own using products you already have. Visit my Skin Allergy Products Store  to see products and books I recommend.

If you have any comments or suggests please comment below.

8 Responses

  1. For those of you who are allergic to dyes in clothing, check products made by http://www.gaia.com and http://www.nature‘slaboratory.com. Natural, non-dyed organic cotton is the best way to go, along with silk. I am a fiber artist who is interested in the debate of natural dyes over synthetic dyes. I am going to experiement this year with wearing non-dyed organic cotton and using natural dyes on my clothes. I will keep you posted of my findings.


    • Joyce,

      Thank you so much for comments in this blog. I enjoyed talking with you the other day. I will try your suggestions as soon as I can.
      Please free free to comment on amy of the blogs I have written.


  2. I have found a line of products by L’Occitane, a shop found in local malls or online, to be free of fragrances and dyes. It is made entirely of plant based ingredients and shea butter. I don’t have the name offhand as I am out of most of the products I use. The salespeople there can direct you if you tell them you have skin allergies. The face lotion is calming and is the first product I found that feels good on my skin. The pure shea butter is a wonderful alternative to using vaseline on my dry feet. The lip balm is the first product I have found that I can tolerate on my lips.


  3. I know what you mean about being your own detective. I had dermatitis on my hands for years, did patch testing and I reacted to a lot of chemicals that were in everything. That didn’t help me at all, a complete waste of money.

    Then I started to eliminate one product a week that I used in my home. I was able to track it down to a cleaner I used on my copper bottom pot and pans every couple of days. You know what products you use every day, so do your own elimination test. I’m also allergic to perfumes, but not all of them.


  4. I agree, it is very determine to distinguish if you or your kids has an allergy to something, and it is important to check fast before something else happens.


  5. Eczema and dermatitis are the most popular subjects on this blogt. My all time most visited blog posts are: “Why do blue jeans turn my legs blue and make me itch” , “Are your clothes causing an itchy rash”, Textile allergies- are you allergic to your clothes?” and “Allergic to your clothes? Some helpful advice”

    It seems I’m not the only one having issues with my clothes causing my skin to become irritated. Any of these blog posts will guide you in the right direction to eliminate the irritating things that affect your skin.

    Thank you for all the support. I hope I am helping you to find relief.


  6. I always thought dermatitis and eczema were different. So they are all skin rashes? I was going to get an expensive patch testing for the rashes on my hands, now I think I will just eliminate some cleaning products to see what happens. I think I also might be allergic to rubber gloves. I hope it’s not atopic dermatitis, that sounds like it may need a doctor to narrow down the internal and external causes.
    Thanks for your timely advice,


    • I’m glad my information has helped you. Write back and let me know what you find out. It took me over a year to narrow down and elimination the causes of my eczema. Found out it wasn’t just one thing but many.
      Good Luck,


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