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Eczema (cont.)

Eczema Causes

Patient Comments

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 exacerbate atopic dermatitis. A very dry environment may be improved with a bedroom or house humidifier.

Common triggers of atopic dermatitis include the following:

  • Harsh soaps and detergents
  • 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/12/2015
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Eczema - Causes

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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 »


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