Eczema is a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the skin.
Typically, eczema causes skin to become itchy, red, and dry — even cracked and leathery. Eczema can appear on any part of the body.
Eczema is a chronic problem for many people. It’s most common in infants, many of whom outgrow it before adulthood.
People with eczema have a higher risk of having allergic conditions like asthma or hay fever.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema.
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema runs in families. Certain genes can cause some people to have extra-sensitive skin. An overactive immune system is thought to play a part, too. And some people think that defects in the skin contribute to eczema. These defects can allow moisture out through the skin and let germs in.
Things that may trigger eczema include:
• Contact with irritating substances such as wool, synthetic fabrics, and soap
• Heat and sweat
• Cold, dry climates
• Dry skin
Eczema affects everyone differently. One person’s triggers may not be the same as another’s. You might experience eczema symptoms at certain times of the year or on different areas of your body.
Common triggers include:
• Dry skin. When your skin gets too dry, it can easily become brittle, scaly, rough or tight, which can lead to an eczema flare-up.Learn more about the importance of moisturizing skin to manage eczema flares.
• Irritants. Everyday products and even natural substances can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red. These can include products that you use on your body or in your home — hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants. Even some natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables or meats, can irritate your skin when you touch them.
Common irritants include:
• metals (especially nickel)
• cigarette smoke
• soaps and household cleansers
• certain fabrics like wool and polyester
• antibacterial ointment like neomycin and bacitracin
• formaldehyde, which is found in household disinfectants, some vaccines, glues and adhesives
• isothiazolinone, an antibacterial that is found in personal care products like baby wipes
• cocamidopropyl betaine, which is used to thicken shampoos and lotions
• paraphenylene-diamine, which is used in leather dyes and temporary tattoos, among others
Stress. Emotional stress can be an eczema trigger, but it’s not exactly known why. Some people’s eczema symptoms get worse when they’re feeling “stressed.” Others may become stressed, just knowing they have eczema, and this can make their skin flare up.
www.WebMd.com. Understanding Eczema: The Basics National eczema association