Allergies and Eczema: Connected?
The exact cause of eczema, also known as dermatitis, is not known by medical professionals. It’s a red rash that can appear on the skin anywhere on the body. Eczema can be genetic, but can also be triggered by any number of environmental and emotional factors.
There appears to be a link between eczema and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as well as asthma. Dust and other irritants that cause allergies can also incite eczema. Also, researchers are now discovering: one third of children who have eczema also have food allergies. So what’s the connection?
The Physical Explanation
The answer lies in your immune system, which works to rid the body of infection. When a person has an allergic reaction to something, the immune system is activated to fight the “attack”. This may cause a reaction in the form of nasal problems and/or skin issues such as eczema. This can occur between minutes or hours after contact with the irritating substance.
The “atopic triad” refers to the link between hay fever, asthma, and eczema. It is possible, however, to have hay fever and eczema at different times in your life. Some people get one condition in their childhood and another as an adult. Over a third of individuals who have childhood eczema develop hay fever as an adult. And, those with hay fever as children are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis, the most common adult form of eczema.
The Link Between Allergies and Eczema
Eczema itself is not an allergy, it’s more like the sneeze or itchy eyes you get from an allergy. It can happen when exposed to food allergies, loose animal fur, pollen, dust, and seasonal changes. Eczema is far worse when food allergies incite the reaction in children. Studies have not shown adult reactions to be any worse.
Some research has been done on the connection between eczema and allergies. The prevailing theory is that the two are linked by a vulnerability in the individual’s skin. The irritating stimulus that incites the allergy causes the body to swell the skin. The white blood cells also release chemicals to try to regulate the allergens, which actually only irritates the location.
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