Whether you call it atopic dermatitis or eczema, this is a serious skin problem whereby your skin gets itchy, cracked, scaly, red and swollen. It's usually triggered by what you eat, scratching and sensitive skin. Besides these, another major trigger is poor air quality and this is where many people start to wonder if air purifiers can help.
So, briefly put, are air purifiers good for eczema? Air purifiers are good for eczema but the correct air purifier needs to be used. Air purifiers can help stop eczema from flaring up by getting rid of airborne particulates in indoor air that trigger the condition and maintaining good indoor air quality.
Through my years of research on air purifiers, I have come across a number of studies showing the harmful effects of air pollution on your skin. Air pollution not only makes you age faster but apart from eczema can cause skin cancer, psoriasis, and acne. This is where air purifiers come in.
You can vacuum your home, and clean up regularly in efforts to prevent or alleviate eczema flare-ups but with all kinds of pollutants in the air, you may find your efforts are short-lived and you have been fighting a losing battle.
However, with an air purifier, you can reach what I call the last frontier of filth in your home, “airborne pollutants.” An air purifier will help you see better results with your cleaning efforts to minimize eczema.
Air purifiers have become an important tool in the fight against eczema and if you would like more detail on how you can take full advantage of them, I have got you covered in the rest of this post.
I show you everything from scientific evidence that air purifiers work for eczema to which air purifiers will actually work and how to use them properly.
So, what are you waiting for? Read on to learn more.
Can Air Purifiers Really Help With Eczema?
Besides many success stories from people who have used air purifiers, one study convinced me the most that air purifiers are good for eczema. The study was done on 24 families, who had 18 people with eczema in total. The researchers installed air purifiers in the homes of each family.
They examined the severity of eczema on the infected participants and indoor air quality before and after the installation of air purifiers for each family over a period of 24 weeks.
When the 24 weeks ended, the researchers found that the air purifiers they installed significantly reduced indoor pollutants including VOCs and particulate matter in each participant’s home.
With the decreased level of pollution, they also found the severity of eczema decreased for every infected participant. The conclusion of the study was that air purifiers may improve the severity of eczema by reducing air pollutants like fine particles and VOCs and that the study could be used as a basis for using air purifiers to prevent aggravation of eczema.
There are other similar studies out there but this was the one that made me draw my final conclusion on how air purifiers are actually useful for eczema. Combining the studies with plenty of anecdotal evidence from people’s personal experience reported across various platforms online, I have no doubt that air purifiers are good for eczema.
The question you should be asking, however, is “what kind of air purifier should I get?” You should also be thinking about how to get the most out of your air purifier in dealing with you or your loved one’s condition. I discuss all this next.
How To Make Sure An Air Purifier Works For Eczema
The are several things you have to consider when it comes to making an air purifier work well for eczema. Simply put you need to have the right type of air purifier and you need to know how to operate your air purifier properly.
So what do I mean by the right type of purifier?
Type Of Air Purifier For Eczema
There are several types of air purifiers out there. However, after going through hundreds of reviews and articles online, I have found the only types of air purifiers worth your time for eczema are Activated Carbon True HEPA and Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) air purifiers.
Activated Carbon HEPA Air Purifiers
Most activated carbon HEPA air purifiers remove at least 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, you will find some that will remove ultrafine particles that are as small as 0.1 microns.
The activated carbon part of the air purifier works by absorbing gases and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the air while the HEPA filter part captures particles.
The HEPA filter only allows very small particles to pass through it and so you are going to find that many HEPA air purifiers also come with a pre-filter that captures larger particles such as pet hair.
With the HEPA part of the air purifier, you will capture small particles including allergens such as mold spores, dust, and pollen. An activated carbon air purifier is accordingly a good investment for you if you have eczema or allergies caused by airborne particulates and gases.
Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) Air Purifiers
As for PCO air purifiers, these work by using a wide spectrum UV light together with a metal catalyst (usually titanium dioxide) to create a chemical reaction that incinerates air pollutants. Pollutants in your indoor air are incinerated by your purifier and turned into water vapor and harmless carbon dioxide.
With a PCO air purifier, you can also get rid of VOCs and particulates just like the activated carbon HEPA purifier does. However, with the PCO air purifiers, you destroy the pollutants rather than capture them.
With a PCO air purifier, you can also get rid of much finer air pollutants at 0.001 microns. You will also find that these types of air purifiers can more easily cover larger rooms than HEPA air purifiers.
I like PCO air purifiers because they are filterless. You don’t have the hustle of replacing filters as you do for activated carbon HEPA air purifiers. That said when it comes to time to replace your UV bulb, it becomes a bit of a challenge as PCO air purifiers are not a common appliance.
So these are the two types of air purifiers that I have found are the right type for eczema. You will come across other types and combinations. Some examples include ozone generators, ionizers, and UV air purifiers.
All these are a waste of time for eczema sufferers and I say steer clear from them. You will get the odd combo air purifier with multiple cleaning technologies but if you find no PCO or activated carbon and HEPA technology on a potential air purifier don’t waste time on such a device.
Once again I say, the only types of air purifiers you should be looking at for eczema are PCO and Activated Carbon HEPA Air Purifiers. I have described these types of air purifiers very briefly here, but if you want a more in-depth guide on all the different types of air purifiers you will come across out there, check out my post on this here.
Once you have identified the correct type of air purifier for you, the next thing you need to make sure is to get an air purifier that has the capacity to cover the whole area in which you need your air cleaned.
I have a detailed guide on what size air purifier you should get here, however briefly put, for eczema sufferers make sure you get an air purifier that can cover at least 300 sq ft more than the room size you want to clean air in.
This will ensure that your air is completely cleaned at all times in your concerned room and the approach applies to both HEPA and PCO air purifiers.
Now, if you have the right air purifier at home already, you have to place it on a good spot to ensure it cleans your air as effectively as possible.
You have to make sure your air purifier is put in a place where it is free of any obstruction to its air intake and output as most air purifiers rely on airflow to clean your air.
To learn more about positioning your air purifier correctly check out this post for detailed information on how to position an air purifier for best results.
I touched briefly on maintenance earlier. To the best of my knowledge and base on my experience with air purifiers, if you do not replace your air purifier parts (this is mainly filters for activated carbon HEPA purifiers or bulbs for PCO air purifiers) then its as good as not having an air purifier.
This is especially true for eczema sufferers. Your air purifier will leave pollutants lurking in your room if not maintained as advised in your appliance’s manual.
So make sure you are washing your filter regularly if you have a washable filter and that you have a parts replacement schedule in place to keep your unit operating at its best.
Other Things To Look Out For
Some additional minor caveats I like to point out to everyone include making sure you get a unit with a sealed system and a good air exchange per hour (ACH) rate.
If you have allergies or eczema, a sealed system air purifier is very important. A sealed system air purifier ensures that all air going through your purifier does not come out until it is cleaned.
Additionally, you should aim to get an air purifier that can do at least 3 ACH. This ACH level is the minimum recommended to help with eczema.
Some Air Purifiers That Work For Eczema
Here are three air purifier models, I have found are worth your while for eczema.
The IQAir HealthPro Plus
The first activated carbon air purifier I vouch for when it comes to eczema is the IQAir HealthPro Plus. It is crazy expensive but it is among the most effective for eczema sufferers I have come across. It is as good as HEPA air filters get at removing pollutants.
This air purifier will get rid of particulates that are as small as 0.003 microns as compared to 0.1 microns by the usual true-HEPA purifier. It is a big machine, but that’s because it covers rooms of up to 1200 sq ft. I call this air purifier the workhorse of HEPA room air purifiers.
The Fellowes AeraMax 300
If you are looking for a True HEPA air purifier that kicks butt in the lower price range, the AeraMax 300 is quite a good choice. However, you should take note that with HEPA air purifiers you usually get what you pay for. Accordingly, unlike the IQ Air, the AeraMax can only filter 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns.
This is good enough for eczema as you will collect pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander plus your activated carbon filter will further help with eczema triggering VOCs. However, you only get an area coverage capacity of 600 sq ft. My take is, therefore, to go for the AeraMax 300 if you are trying to improve air quality in a small room.
The Airocide Air Purifier
Last but definitely not least, I think you should also consider the Airocide air purifier. This is one of the few PCO air purifiers among the few that exist that I recommend. The other brand I would suggest when it comes to PCO is Air Oasis but I like the Airocide purifiers mainly because the manufacturer stands strongly behind its products.
If you are not satisfied with your device and you have had it for up to 6 weeks, just call up Airocide and let them know and they take their air purifier back and give you a full refund for it.
The Airocide covers up to a whopping 3000 sq ft of space and destroys virtually all pollutants in your air. Personally I think it's among the best investments you can make for eczema when it comes to air purifiers.
I discuss all these air purifiers and other options and the best place to get them in more detail here. But remember, whatever you go for, make sure you stick either to an activated carbon HEPA air purifier or a PCO air purifier.
Also, don’t make the mistake of going for low-cost appliances (below US$150). I have seen such purifiers prove themselves worthless far too many times for things like eczema, that I strongly advise against them. A lot of the time you get what you pay for with air purifiers.
Other Measures To Implement Together With Air Purifiers
Something you should be completely aware of when it comes to air purifiers and eczema is that they are not a cure for eczema. If anyone says so then disregard everything else they are going to tell you.
Yes, air purifiers help improve your situation but they only go so far. You have to use your air purifier with other preventive measures like keeping your home clean and most importantly following your doctor’s advice.
Only then do you start to see the real benefits of an air purifier. Accordingly here are three other critical things you should do in addition to purifying your air.
Use a Humidifier
Firstly if the air is dry where you live, this can aggravate your eczema. You might find you are running your air purifier and your air quality is good after several tests, but this is not doing anything to help your eczema.
In this case, the first point of call is to check your humidity level. A good humidity level is around 40-50%. If you find you are way below 40%, then your air is too dry and it’s probably why you are not getting good results with your air purifier.
So to solve this, in addition to using your air purifier, you also need to use a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to your air. You can get a stand-alone humidifier or an air purifier with a builtin humidifier to help you do this. I strongly recommend smart humidifiers that you can set to automatically run when your humidity is out of range.
Use Hypoallergenic Bedding's
When you use normal bedding, these have surfaces in which dust mite and other pollutants can easily lodge themselves into and hide in and if you have sensitive skin, asthma or eczema you get a reaction just by sleeping using normal bedding.
Scientists realized this and developed hypoallergenic materials that prevent the build-up of allergen on their surface. The materials are now used on pillows, mattresses, bed covers, sheets, and other household linen.
Such household linens are a great preventive approach for eczema sufferers and so consider switching to hypoallergenic linen.
Clean Your House Regularly
I am quite sure you are cleaning your house often if you have eczema. If you aren’t, find a way to get your house cleaned on a weekly basis at a minimum. When cleaning, use vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter for dust.
If you have pets, keep them off of your upholstery and out of your bedroom. Shampoo your carpet at least once a month. Also, keep your humidity at a good level to prevent mold and mildew growth, and wipe down your walls often.
Some people even go as far as getting rid of carpeting and switching to tiles or hardwood floors to keep the dirt and allergy-causing bacteria out. Also when cleaning surfaces and clothes, switch to more organic and eco-friendly cleaning chemicals that are more gentle on your skin.
I see the above three nonmedical measures as pivotal for easing eczema, before implementing other measures including using an air purifier. If you are doing the above correctly you increase your chances of getting great results for eczema when using your air purifier.
On this note, I trust that you now fully understand how you can benefit from air purifiers and whether they are worth it for you if you suffer from eczema. That said, please be sure to consult your doctor and get medical attention before you take any other steps to deal with your condition.