What’s the connection between Eczema and Allergies?
Eczema and allergies, what are the connections? Well.. Case studies have shown that if one or both parents have eczema, asthma, or seasonal allergies, their child is more likely to have eczema.
Did you as a child have Eczema and now suffer from hayfever or asthma?
Scientists are still studying the link between the conditions, understanding the connection can help you manage the symptoms.
What Is Eczema and Who Gets It?
Eczema ( Atopic dermatitis) is the term for many different skin conditions, some of which look very similar but need to be treated differently. Most of the time, it refers to a common skin disease called Atopic dermatitis, which causes a dry, itchy, red rash. If you scratch your skin, it can start to ooze and crust over and become infected. Do it over a long period of time, and your skin can get thick and dark with hard patches and scaring.
Many people get eczema as a child and often grow out of the condition. Eczema and allergies have always run side by side. The Symptoms can often improve by age 5 or 6, and flare-ups stop for more than half of kids by their teenage years. However, many people still have this terrible skin condition as adults, though their symptoms tend to be milder. It’s less common to get eczema for the first time as an adult but not unknown.
Allergy & Eczema Connections
Many times I’ve been asked ‘ eczema and allergies, what are the connections? Most types of eczema are not allergies. The disease can flare up when you’re around things that cause an allergic reaction. Your body’s immune system overreacts to substances called allergens that are usually not harmful. You might get hives, itching, swelling, sneezing, and a runny nose. Allergens can include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Some foods
At one time scientists thought that all types of eczema were caused by allergies. Now we know that the connection is more complicated. Researchers are still uncovering new details about the causes of eczema that may lead to better treatments.
Some recent areas of study include
Genes: Researchers have found that some people with the condition have a gene flaw that causes a lack of a type of protein, called filaggrin, in their skin. It helps form the protective outer layer of our skin and keeps out germs and more. A lack of filaggrin dries out and weakens that skin barrier. This makes skin vulnerable to irritants, like soaps and detergents. It also makes it easier for allergens to get into the body. Scientists believe that that makes people more sensitive to those allergens and even some foods.
How the body reacts to allergens: Some research has found that people with eczema may have a defect in their skin barrier. Small gaps in the skin making it dry out quickly, and let germs and allergens into the body. When allergens enter the skin, they prompt the body to make chemicals that lead to redness and swelling, called inflammation. Research also points to a problem with a type of white blood cell that releases chemicals that help control allergic reactions in the body. This may help explain why people with eczema have outbreaks when they’re around allergens.
Too many antibodies: Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a type of antibody that plays a role in the body’s allergic response. People with eczema have higher-than-normal levels of it. Researchers are working to understand why people with the skin condition make too much IgE and what role this may play in the disease.
Interesting fact: Light can make you sneeze!
Did you know that one-third of people have a condition that causes them to sneeze when they look at bright lights? Just going outside on a sunny day can cause some people to sneeze. Known as photic sneezing, this condition often runs in families.
Avoid Allergy Triggers to Prevent Flare-Ups
How to manage eczema, you need to moisturize daily and take your medication as your doctor prescribes. It also helps to try and avoid anything that can cause an allergy trigger.
- Keep an eczema journal. Write down where you were and what you were doing when your symptoms flared up. It can help you figure out what things might be triggering them. Share the journal with your doctor during appointments.
- Stay away from things that irritate your skin. Common ones include wool, soaps and detergents, perfume, chemicals, sand, and cigarette smoke.
- Avoid allergy triggers. Pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens may make eczema flare up. You could try a dust-proof mattress and pillow covers, remove carpets, avoid contact with animals, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high.
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Treatments for summer Allergies and Hayfever
A daily over-the-counter (OTC) antiallergy pill or intranasal spray may be enough to control your symptoms. Common OTC antihistamine tablet choices include cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin, Alavert). Glucocorticosteroid intranasal sprays available over the counter include fluticasone propionate (Flonase) and triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort).
This website and blogs provides general information and discussion about eczema, skincare, and related subjects. The words and other content provided on this website or blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare worker, GP or Doctor.
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Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication therapy that, depending on your insurance plan, might be more affordable.
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