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How can I find eczema triggers on my child's body?

Happy baby. Find out if something on your child’s own body could be triggering the eczema.
You cannot cure eczema by ONLY removing what triggers your child’s eczema. To control eczema, you need to bathe and moisturize, treat flares, and avoid triggers.

Learn more by matching the possible trigger on the chart below and see what you can do to help treat flares and avoid triggers on your child's body.

Possible triggerCould be a trigger if...What you can do
Bacteria in noseThis can be difficult to recognize. Ask your child's dermatologist if this could be a trigger for your child. If so, treatment can reduce bacteria.
  • Your child has flares where seams or tags touch the skin.
  • Eczema worsens after wearing certain clothes.
  • Dress your child in loose-fitting clothes made from 100% cotton. Avoid wool and polyester clothing.
  • Remove all tags.
  • Machine wash clothes, using fragrance-free, dye-free laundry detergent.
  • If you use fabric softener, use one labeled fragrance-free.
  • Dry clothes in a dryer rather than outside on a clothesline.
Dry skin
  • Your child's skin feels very dry.
  • Your child has areas of cracked or bleeding skin.
  • Your child's skin looks scaly or ashy.
  • Bathe and moisturize your child as your child's dermatologist recommends, which includes applying a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing.
  • Moisturize more often during the day until your child's skin feels soft.
  • When the air is extra dry, follow the Winter skin care tips.
Food on skinYou see redness and swelling where food touches your child's skin.
  • Gently wipe food from child's skin with a soft cloth; rubbing can trigger eczema.
  • Ask your child's dermatologist about applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the skin that food often touches. You'd apply this right before mealtime.
Food your child eatsYour child's eczema flares (immediately or later) after eating certain food.
  • Severe reaction: Get immediate medical care.
  • Mild reaction: Make an appointment to see your child's dermatologist.
  • Write down what foods seem to trigger the eczema, briefly describe what the child ate and when you saw a flare.
SalivaYou see redness and swelling where saliva touches your child's skin.
  • Gently pat saliva from child's skin with a soft cloth; rubbing can trigger eczema.
  • Ask your child's dermatologist about applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to skin that saliva often touches.
ScratchingYour child scratches until the skin bleeds, or you see your child rubbing up against the crib or other object to rub the skin.
SweatYou see sweat on your child's body or your child seems overheated. Sweat and overheating are common eczema triggers.
  • Prevent overheating.
  • Dress your child in loose-fitting, 100% cotton clothes.
  • Layer clothes so that you can remove a layer as needed.
  • Avoid too many covers at night.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature to prevent sweating.

Related AAD resources

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Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Part 4: Guidelines of Care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1218-33.