What Triggers Eczema? With Dr. Peter Lio

What Triggers Eczema

What triggers eczema? Find out from Dr. Peter Lio (see bio below). Scroll down to watch the video or read on for a full transcript.

(transcript begins)

Today’s question is: What triggers eczema?

It’s important to know that for each person there may be different triggers. However, there are some universal triggers that affect many patients with eczema:

Temperature Changes

The first is cold/dry weather. The wintertime can often be a difficult time for our patients with eczema. That being said, many patients also flare up when it’s warm and humid. Sometimes if they’re exerting themselves, like exercising, that can too cause eczema to flare up.


True allergens in the environment like pollen, weed, mold, ragweed, pet dander, pet saliva can trigger eczema. We also know that certain foods can trigger it. Most of the foods we think cause eczema flare ups are true food allergens, but some foods (like gluten or dairy) just seem to be inflammatory for some people even with negative allergy tests. Many people who test negative find they feel better when they eliminate certain foods like those and others from their diets.

ILW Recommends: Our Eczema Elimination Diet Success (How You Can Do It Too!)


It turns out that stress is a big trigger as well. Of course when our eczema is flared up that often contributes to stress too, which causes a vicious cycle. Poor sleep is another trigger for many people and can be linked with stress in most cases.

ILW Recommends: 8 Ways to Relieve Stress in Children With Eczema and Other Health Conditions

All of these triggers can play off one another. What’s very frustrating is that patients will ask me: I’m doing everything that I can to avoid my triggers, why am I still having flare-ups? It’s really important to know that these triggers are not the underlying cause necessarily. If you’re lucky enough to avoid a few triggers and your skin clears, then that’s great and you don’t necessarily need to seek further help. For the most part, our patients who try to avoid their triggers still continue to have eczema. Our goal is to have them avoid all triggers they can feasibly, but still treat the underlying disease that is being fueled by triggers.

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And for more from Dr. Lio on our blog, check out these great posts:

What Causes Eczema?

Will Your Child Outgrow Their Eczema?

4 Tips For Parents On Managing Eczema in Children

What Is The Atopic March?

Topical Steroid Withdrawal: Myth vs. Fact


Bio: Dr. Peter Lio is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center and very passionate about finding safe treatments that work for eczema. Dr. Lio received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, completed his internship at Boston Children’s Hospital and his dermatology training at Harvard. He has had formal training in acupuncture under Kiiko Matsumoto and David Euler, and has held a long interest in alternative medicines. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Eczema Association. His clinical office is located at Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago.



  1. Eugenia Pree on March 27, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    What can I do for chronic exposure to mold do to my eczema

    • Jennifer Roberge on March 28, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      What type of mold is it? Where is the mold you are exposed to? Is there a way to decease your exposure? How do you know the mold is your trigger?

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