Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, red, and inflamed skin. Eczema is also known as dermatitis due to its similarity with many other skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. These conditions share common symptoms, but their causes are different.
Eczema can cause dry skin that crackles when touched. It can also cause skin irritations and even thickening of the skin, scaliness, pustules, blisters, and even sores at the contact areas.
Especially when it happens to children, this can be irritating for them. It can be anything between a mild rash, to something more severe and harder to manage. When you or your child suffers from eczema, the main goal is to manage it holistically, and right from the core.
What causes this condition? Below are some factors that have been identified.
The Causes Of Eczema
The causes of eczema can vary from one person to another. Some types are caused by genetics, start from birth through simple onsets, like baby acne, while others develop later on. These would circle around the following:
1. Food Allergies
Food allergies are very common, and many of these can lead to skin irritations, like eczema. When a person suffers from eczema, a good doctor will also check for potential food allergies and not just focus on the topical treatments. Otherwise, you’re merely tackling it on surface level. Eczema will keep ensuing if the root allergies aren’t identified.
Some of the eczema related foods include:
- Cow’s milk. An allergic reaction to cow’s milk is very common in babies and young children, particularly those who started drinking cow’s milk before they’re six months old.
- Eggs. While common, egg allergies can easily be outgrown by children. Symptoms of egg allergies include digestive distress, skin irritations, and respiratory problems.
- Tree nuts. These refer to nuts and seeds coming from trees, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews.
- Shellfish. An allergic reaction to shellfish happens when your body attacks proteins brought by crustaceans, like shrimps, scallops, and prawns.
- Soy. Apart from dairy, soy may also cause allergies, which are common in young children. Symptoms include itchy mouth, rash, and asthma.
2. Exposure To Certain Irritants
Certain types of irritants, such as detergents, cosmetic products, and alcohol, are known to trigger eczema outbreaks. When the skin comes into contact with these irritants, the body’s immune system is attacked. When this happens, symptoms such as inflammation, itch, or cracked skin may arise.
That said, here are examples of the common irritants used daily:
- Soap. While frequent handwashing is good, excessive handwashing can also strip your skin of its natural oils. Some soaps may also be too harsh, chemical-wise, for regular use. Soap-related irritation may start off as dry skin before escalating into cracked skin.
- Fabric dryer sheets. If you absolutely need to use fabric dryer sheets, stick to those that are fragrance-free.
- Household cleaners. It’s a given that household cleaners are naturally laden with very strong chemicals. These are, after all, intended to clean the home. Some individuals may develop adverse reactions to these cleaning agents, hence, the need for proper gloves when handling them.
If you have other family members who have eczema, then, chances are you’ll have it as well. A major risk factor is those who not only have eczema, but also asthma, skin asthma, and other allergies.
Your genetic makeup has a very big role to play in how susceptible you are to certain diseases. For instance, there might be changes in your genes, which result in abnormal protein levels, which is necessary to give the body healthy skin. Without proper protein levels, you’ll naturally find changes in your skin and its ability to ward off conditions like eczema.
4. Environmental Factors
Another thing that may cause eczema to flare up is environmental factors.
The environment plays a large role in causing eczema. Anyone that lives in a cold, damp, or hot climate will experience the effects of eczema more than someone who lives in a comfortable setting. It has been established that eczema is more prevalent in those climates that are wet or humid because some people develop an allergic reaction to the moisture found in these environments.
If you live in the said areas, there are many gadgets now to improve air quality. For instance, when it’s too cold but humidity is poor, you can turn on your heater and humidifier. If the air is too warm, turn on the air conditioner. If it’s too cold, it might also lead to rashes, same with excessive heat, which leads to more sweating that can irritate the skin through the dirt that gets stuck in your pores.
Furthermore, be cautious about the dust in your home. Dust mites can also cause skin irritations, like eczema, so it’s important to keep your home clean. Vacuum the entire space often, change your sheets and curtains regularly, as well as deep-clean your mattress every so often.
Symptoms Of Eczema
Now that you’ve already gotten insights on some of the most common causes of eczema, it’s also important to also know symptoms. If you’re experiencing them, then it’s important for you to get checked by a dermatologist. Don’t self-medicate as you may only make the condition worse.
Here are some telling signs of eczema:
- Dry skin
- Sensitive skin from scratching
- Itching that becomes more severe at night
- Cracked, thick, and scaly skin
- Red to brownish-gray patches.
For some people, eczema can be very mild and easily managed. However, others experience severe symptoms that can, at times, be debilitating.. The good news is that eczema can now be managed much more easily. The causes can now be easily identified, helping doctors address them more accurately. This leads to a better and a more effective long-term treatment.
While eczema is a skin condition, it isn’t enough to just treat it right at the surface. This is because people have different body chemistries and conditions, so not all who suffer from eczema will have the same triggers.
Now that you’re more informed about its causes and symptoms, a trip to your trusted doctor is highly recommended once you experience eczema symptoms.