Font Size
A
A
A
2
...

Eczema (cont.)

What Are Causes and Risk Factors of Eczema?

It is generally agreed that the tendency to atopy is inherited. For the purposes of this discussion, the term eczema and atopic dermatitis will be synonymous. Individuals with atopic dermatitis have a variety of abnormal immunologic findings, like elevated IgE antibody (immunoglobulin E) levels and defective cell-mediated immunity, which causes difficulty in fighting off certain viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Despite a susceptibility to certain infections, eczema is not itself contagious in any way.

Like most other noninfectious diseases, atopic skin disease can be triggered by environmental factors. One of the hallmarks of atopic dermatitis is excessive skin dryness, which seems to be due a lack of certain skin proteins called filaggrins. Any factor that promotes dryness is likely to worsen atopic dermatitis. A very dry sleeping environment may be improved with a bedroom or house humidifier.

Common triggers of atopic dermatitis include the following:

  • Harsh soaps and detergents
  • Overwashing of skin
  • Solvents
  • Low humidity
  • Lotions
  • Rough wool clothing
  • Sweating
  • Occlusive rubber or plastic gloves
  • Rubbing
  • Staphylococcus bacteria
  • Repeated wetting and drying of the skin (as occurs with food handling or other professions requiring frequent hand washing)
  • While food allergies are implicated as triggers in some patients, there is no dietary restriction or recommendation which is universally helpful.
  • Eczema may be worsened by the development of additional problems such as allergic contact dermatitis, which may occur as a reaction to preservatives and active ingredients in moisturizers, and even as a reaction to the topical corticosteroids used themselves.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/7/2016
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Eczema

Allergic Reaction
Allergic Reaction An allergic reaction is an overreaction to a harmless substance. Symptoms and signs of an allergic reaction include hives, rashes, swelling, itching, wheezing, ...learn more >>
Asthma
Asthma Asthma is a disease that affects the breathing passages of the learn more >>
Contact Dermatitis
Contact Dermatitis Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis is a localized rash or irritation of the skin caused by contact with a foreign substance.learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Eczema:

Eczema - Causes

What causes your eczema to flare up?

Eczema - Symptoms and Signs

What are your eczema symptoms and signs?

Eczema - Effective Treatments

What treatment has been effective for your eczema?

Eczema - Experience

Please describe your experience with eczema.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dyshidrotic Eczema »

Dyshidrotic eczema is a recurrent or chronic relapsing form of vesicular palmoplantar dermatitis of unknown etiology.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary