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Allergies and Eczema

Allergies and Eczema

Eczema is one of the most common skin problems, affecting up to 15% of the population, and probably a higher percentage of young people. As is common in skin problems that have a genetic component (as opposed to being caused by a virus, fungus, or a bacteria), the exact cause and mechanisms of the condition are complex and multi-factorial.

What we do know is that there are defects in the skin barrier function for those with eczema, and that those with eczema also have a high chance of having a tendency for allergies.

Called the atopic triad, atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma, and hay fever (allergic rhinitis) are examples of atopic tendencies, and have strong correlations with each other. The tendencies for atopic diseases run in families.

Many patients with eczema therefore have other allergic tendencies which often have the effect of worsening eczema itself. Common allergens are food allergies, as well as allergies to metals like nickel and chrome.

  • Approximately one in three eczema patients also have allergies that relate to food.
  • Eggs, milk, soy, and wheat allergies are often associated with eczema.
  • Dust and pollen allergies are also commonly associated with eczema.
  • Allergies often trigger or aggravate the eczema symptoms in addition to causing typical allergy symptoms.
  • Itching is a common problem in both eczema and allergies. Itching itself from either eczema or allergies can both prompt scratching, worsening the itch.
  • Itchiness itself needs to be controlled. Even though itching is a symptom, it can become a cause of further skin damage and itching by prompting scratching which worsens eczema.

Most eczema patients are aware of their food allergies if they have any. Some people, usually those with milder cases of food allergies, however, may not be aware of the triggers that worsen their eczema.

If you suspect that you have food allergies, which trigger eczema flares, but aren't sure what triggers it you may want to visit an allergist or a dermatologist. Avoiding triggers can make it much easier to manage and control your eczema symptoms.

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