What causes eczema? Common triggers and how to avoid them when cleaning

Think you may have eczema? Well, there can be a variety of triggers. Here we discuss common causes of eczema & explain how to deal with household triggers.

Key steps

  1. If you think you or your child may have eczema, speak to your doctor.
  2. Avoid eczema triggers such as irritating fabrics, and allergens such as pet dander.
  3. Cleaning regularly will help reduce eczema triggers in your home. 


Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a condition that can cause the skin to become dry, red, itchy, and cracked. Severity varies from person to person and it affects people of all ages. Children will often ‘grow out’ of their eczema but it can reoccur later in life. If you think you or your child may have eczema, speak to your doctor. They can help identify the most likely cause and recommend a personalised treatment path to help you control your eczema. If you have a baby with eczema, these are some common causes and triggers.

If you or your child suffer from eczema, stick to cleaning and skin care products that are free from perfumes and colours that may cause skin irritations. Neutral 0% offer a great range of products suitable for people with sensitive skin conditions. Read on for simple tips on avoiding eczema triggers in the home.

What causes eczema?

While the exact causes of eczema symptoms cannot usually be pinpointed to one specific thing, both genes and environmental factors contribute to the condition. It often runs in families and is common in people who also have other allergies like asthma or hay fever.

When you have eczema, your skin’s barrier does not function as efficiently as with healthy skin. This means it doesn’t retain moisture as well, leading to dry skin, and making you more prone to skin irritation.

However, exposure to irritants can be minimised and even avoided if you know what to look out for.

Eczema triggers to avoid

  • Colours and fragrances in certain soaps and detergents
  • Irritating fabrics like wool
  • Temperature extremes – being too hot or too cold
  • Allergens like dust mites and pet dander
  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Food allergies

For more information on triggers for eczema, click here.

How to deal with common eczema triggers in the home

A move as simple as switching your laundry detergent could help you reduce eczema flare-ups. Similarly, regular cleaning to minimise allergens in the home could make a difference, too.

Which washing powder for eczema?

The best washing powder for eczema sufferers is one that contains no perfumes or colours – these can contain chemicals that may cause skin irritation, aggravating your eczema. Look for a mild laundry detergent that’s gentle to skin and fabrics and is free from scent and colour, like Neutral 0% Detergent. It’s been specially developed for people with sensitive skin and is designed to help reduce the risk of skin irritation, making it an ideal laundry detergent for eczema sufferers.

When you have eczema, you should also set your washing machine to do an extra rinse cycle. This will ensure your clothes are thoroughly rinsed of any detergent residue that could cause irritation.

Cleaning regularly

Dust, mould, pollen, & pet dander may cause eczema to flare-up, so it’s important to keep up with your cleaning routine to minimise exposure to these allergens. Dust as often as you can, vacuum carpets and flooring regularly, and routinely give all furniture and cushion coverings a wash with a gentle laundry detergent (vacuum any non-washable covers). Open the windows as often as possible to air the rooms in your home and prevent the growth of mould.

It’s also important to wear gloves when using cleaning products. It’s not always possible to find a suitable cleaner that doesn’t contain fragrance or colour, so gloves can help protect your hands from irritants while cleaning.

Making changes to the way you clean and do laundry are just a few ways to reduce eczema triggers; learn more about living with and controlling eczema here.

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Did you know?

According to the National Eczema Society, eczema affects one in five children and one in twelve adults in the UK. It’s a common condition that unfortunately cannot be cured, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit in silence and suffer!