The sudden appearance of skin inflammation can feel alarming, but it’s a chance to get curious — identifying your triggers (and keeping helpful products on hand) can make all the difference.
For many people who have sensitive skin, it can be a daily struggle against dryness and itchiness, redness and irritation, or even swelling and soreness.
While it’s important to correctly identify your particular skin condition to provide targeted treatment, many skin conditions share similar symptoms: itchiness and redness are common symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, AND rosacea, for example.
What do these skin conditions have in common? They all involve inflammation caused by a trigger.
This means that regardless of your particular skin condition, you can minimize the frequency (and severity) of flare-ups by understanding what triggers inflammation in your body.
Triggers can be internal, meaning they originate inside your body (such as food sensitivities or stress) or external, meaning they are caused by something your body has been in contact with (like allergens, physical irritants, or even the weather).
At Iremia Skincare, we believe that skin health is holistic and that many skin conditions are simply the visible signals of our body reacting to the world.
What is causing your redness, and how can you soothe your skin? Becoming aware of your inflammation triggers is key to consciously managing your symptoms!
Common causes of flare-ups
Pinpointing your unique skin triggers is the first step to not only identifying your flare-ups but also easing your symptoms.
One overarching factor to keep in mind is transepidermal water loss. TEWL occurs when water passes through the skin and evaporates into the air, and is closely linked to redness and inflammation.
Your skin can usually retain hydration on its own, but when the skin barrier is damaged, too much water escapes. Skin that’s lacking hydration can result in dullness, dryness, or dehydration.
Most skin conditions involve a form of skin barrier damage, so keeping TEWL in mind when you’re assessing skin inflammation (we have a blog post about it here!) will provide a deeper layer of understanding for your skin.
The exact cause of skin inflammation can be different from person to person, but there are a few factors that commonly cause skin redness and breakouts, regardless of the underlying cause.
Whether it’s a food allergy, a sensitivity, or related to alcohol or other substances, skin inflammation is often an immune system reaction to irritants that we consume.
For example, certain food allergies (milk, eggs, and peanuts) have been identified as eczema triggers, while other foods are understood to be generally inflammatory (such as added sugars and gluten).
If you’re looking to explore dietary triggers, opt for an anti-inflammatory diet to help prevent skin inflammation. Become observant of foods that increase inflammation including chocolate, sugar, starch, alcohol, and spicy foods. Focus on foods that support gut health (diversity is key!), with an emphasis on organic: preservatives and pesticides cause your immune system to go into overdrive, exacerbating inflammation.
Try keeping a food journal if you’re noticing a connection between flare-ups and certain foods: a health professional such as a dietician or naturopath can work with you to help identify diet triggers, and to determine if periodic elimination of trigger foods is a healthy option for you.
Remember: skin health is holistic — healthy skin depends on how we nourish our bodies. Incorporate seasonal, nutrient-packed foods (as well as plenty of water!) to help your skin look and feel its best.
Emotional stress, anxiety, and poor sleep don’t cause skin inflammation, but they can certainly provoke symptoms.
We know stress can affect us in many ways, but our skin usually isn't the first thing we think about when we consider the effects of a stressful lifestyle. But stress activates internal inflammation in the body.
The body releases cortisol when it’s under stress. When too much cortisol is released due to prolonged or severe stress, it can throw off the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin.
Additionally, lack of sleep can exacerbate inflammation symptoms, since this is when your body does deep repair. Poor sleep = less chance for your body to reduce inflammation naturally.
While easier said than done, try to minimize stress and get a full night’s rest to help your immune system function optimally and avoid overreactions that lead to inflammation.
Just as your skincare routine requires careful consideration and accommodation, other products we use on (or around) our skin may need to be considered and adjusted as well.
Chemicals are a common source of external triggers for skin conditions, and products we use every day — laundry detergent, soaps, andanything with added or syntheticfragrances — can contain ingredients that may irritate your skin.
Further, many conventional beauty products contain unsafe ingredients (hormone disruptors, allergens, irritants, toxins, etc.) that can affect the health of our skin and can be especially noticeable if you have sensitive skin.
Pay attention to the timing of when you experience a flare-up, and what products you were in contact with. Try switching to hypoallergenic andnaturally-scented products, and closely monitor symptoms when using a new product.
Sudden weather changes, and especially windy or dry winter conditions, can take a toll on your skin’s hydration levels. This can either cause or exacerbate skin inflammation.
Pay attention to what kind of weather triggers flare-ups. If hot, humid weather affects your skin, try to regulate body temperature by wearing loose, breathable clothing and staying hydrated.
If you live in an area with low humidity or experience seasonal dry weather (think air conditioners or dry indoor heating), try a humidifier to help support your skin barrier. Humidifiers increase the moisture in the air, and studies have shown that humidifiers positively affect skin hydration and skin barrier function, which are all key in dealing with redness and inflammation.
Soothe your skin with Iremia
Flare-ups can be disruptive and uncomfortable, but knowing you have supportive and soothing ingredients on hand can not only help calm your skin but keep you feeling empowered as well.
If you’re dealing with dryness and irritation, try our All-Calm Face Mist — bursting with natural ingredients to soothe, hydrate, and plump up your skin, All-Calm helpssoothe skin and boost radiance through its water-retaining substances (including proteins, amino acids, and polysaccharides). Rich in vitamins as well as pantothenic acid, niacin, and biotin, our proprietary combination of black oat extract and lecithin results in 30% more effective hydration than both glycerin and hyaluronic acid combined.
For skin barrier support during inflammation, our Restorative Facial Oil will do just the trick. Support your skin's barrier by providing restorative fatty acids like the ones we use in this intricately created, golden blend of 11 nutrient-dense oils. Our award-winning and CertClean-certified Restorative Facial Oil delivers luminous and healthy skin in a quick-absorbing formula that doesn’t clog your pores. Every drop is designed to calm and nourish while providing omega-3 fatty acids andsupporting your skin’s natural barrier.
For an extra moisturizing boost, check out our Protective Cream. An incredible hydrator for dry and oversensitive skin, this nourishing moisturizer deeply hydrates with natural antioxidants while it conditions your skin. The combination of regenerative ingredients in this formula (such as cocoa butter, beeswax, and avocado oil) supports your skin barrier while protecting against environmental aggressors.
Flare-up trigger questions
Take note of internal and external conditions at the time of a flare-up: the better you understand what causes your symptoms, the easier it is to avoid them.
Try asking yourself the following:
- Have I been exposed to new allergens or irritants?
- Did the flare-up happen during a specific activity, like cleaning or exercising?
- Did I eat something different today?
- Was I stressed or anxious?
Pinpointing your unique skin triggers is the first step to not only identifying your flare-ups but also easing your symptoms. Remember, the road to calm and soothed skin is a conversation between you and your body — take some time to listen to what it is communicating to you, and enjoy the multitude of health benefits that can flow from a holistic skin health outlook!