Can An Air Purifier Help Relieve Eczema Symptoms?

Eczema is a common skin condition that can keep you from feeling your best. While many factors contribute to eczema, new research increasingly shows air pollution to play a major role. 

What is eczema?

One of the functions of our skin is to serve as a barrier. Eczema damages this barrier function, causing your skin to be more sensitive and more prone to infection and dryness. 

There are seven different types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis…  all of which range in symptoms and severity.  Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema, affecting over 16 million adults. 

When you have an eczema flare-up, allergens like food or pet dander are able to get under your skin and set off bouts of symptoms.

Eczema is most common in childhood, often starting around the age of 5 and lasting through adolescence. Childhood isn’t the only time eczema can affect you though. 15-20% of people will experience eczema symptoms at some point in their lives. While eczema can make you very uncomfortable, it is not contagious and often disappears on its own as you age. 

Eczema doesn’t just affect your skin. Flareups may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

The most common symptoms of eczema are:

  • Dry skin
  • Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
  • Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
  • Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
  • Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching

Because of the pain and irritation of eczema, sleep is often impacted. Sleep disturbance occurs in approximately 60% of children and 15-30% of adults with Atopic eczema.

What’s the difference between eczema and dry skin?

Because dry skin and eczema can present similarly, it can be difficult to tell them apart… especially because dry skin is often the first sign of eczema. 

Dry skin happens to almost all of us at some point. Maybe the weather has been dry for a long time, or perhaps you’re using a new soap or detergent. Any minor change in your daily environment can cause some dry skin. Typically all it takes is a little moisturizer to relieve the symptoms.

Although eczema shares some of the symptoms of dry skin, it is more severe and more difficult to treat. 

Dry skin doesn’t cause eczema, but it can cause flareups in those who are prone to symptoms. When skin dries out it becomes cracked, allowing irritants to get inside… causing further eczema symptoms.

What causes eczema?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) describes atopic dermatitis as a complex skin disease caused by an interaction between a person’s environment and their genes… meaning that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint one cause. However, the following factors tend to contribute to an atopic dermatitis diagnosis:

Genetics

Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families, suggesting that genetics may play a role. Recent research suggests that some people with eczema have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin, a protein that helps our bodies maintain a protective barrier on the outermost layer of our skin. 

Immune System 

Immune systems are supposed to keep outside pollutants from making you sick. However, sometimes your immune system can become overactive to irritants, causing skin inflammation, which can lead to atopic dermatitis.  

Environment

A variety of different environmental factors can trigger the immune system, damaging the protective barrier of the skin.

Some of the most common factors are:

  • Dry skin
  • Everyday products such as soaps or detergents
  • Stress 
  • Air pollution

How can air pollution lead to eczema?

 Studies in both children and adults have linked exposure to higher levels of certain types of pollution with an increased likelihood of developing symptoms of eczema.

For instance, a recent study found that exposure to air pollution from wildfires — which contain high concentrations of fine particulate matter — increased the likelihood of children requiring medical care for their eczema symptoms by 45%.

Research has linked many types of pollutants to eczema, including:

  • fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5
  • ozone
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • carbon monoxide
  • lead
  • sulfur dioxide and sulfate

Can an air purifier help?

Yes! Air purifiers that use True HEPA filters will remove particulate matter from your indoor air. Since most of us spend around 90% of our time inside, keeping our indoor air clean can make a big difference.

But, it isn’t just particulate matter that can exacerbate eczema symptoms. Gases can also cause eczema flareups. To remove harmful gases from your air, look for a purifier that combines a HEPA filter with an activated carbon filter. 

As helpful as the right purifier can be, some air purifiers may actually make your eczema symptoms worse. Watch out for purifiers that emit any amount of ozone. 

Aeris purifiers are always ozone free. Check out our full line of purifiers for a safe, effective way to remove the harmful gases and pollutants that can lead to eczema. 

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