Eczema is a very irritating and hideous-looking condition of the skin that affects many people all over the world. Although it is more of a nuisance than a dangerous illness, many people find it bothersome enough that it needs to be treated. Like most diseases, prevention is better than having to treat eczema, and one of the most effective ways to prevent getting eczema is by avoiding its causes.
What really causes eczema?
Even though many people have been affected by eczema throughout history, doctors are still not quite sure what causes the condition. However, experts do know that people who are prone to eczema have skin that is rather different from those who are not.
People with normal skin usually do not have problems because their skin is capable of taking care of itself most of the time. Normal skin is quite flexible and water resistant. It serves protective functions against heat and cold plus against invaders like insects, germs and infections.
People who are prone to eczema have skin that is deficient of these normal functions. Their skin is usually cracked and dry with the outer protective layer damaged. The skin also easily loses the water necessary for proper maintenance and repair. This makes their skin inclined to the irritation that is characteristic of eczema.
Hereditary Causes of Eczema
Dermatologists and skin researchers have observed the tendency for eczema to run in families. A child whose parents or even grandparents have had eczema has been found to have an 80% chance of developing the condition compared to children who have not experienced eczema in their families.
Eczema has also been linked to other diseases such as hay fever and asthma. Families with these diseases are more prone to eczema than families without them.
Other Causes or Triggers of Eczema
Certain things in the environment have been seen to cause or trigger eczema flare-ups. Usually, these flare-ups happen when one’s immune system reacts negatively towards the environment or when people are in an emotional state that their bodies react to in the form of skin irritation.
People with the tendency for eczema may have different triggers for the condition. Here are among the more typical causes of episodes of eczema:
* Chemicals that cause irritation such as alcohol, perfumes, detergents, household cleaners, paint strippers, pesticides, astringents, strongly scented soaps, etc.
* Physical irritants that cause itching such as rough fabrics and synthetic fibers
* Common allergens such as dust, animal dander, mold, pollen, dust mites, food etc.
* Tobacco smoke and other pollutants
* Extreme weather conditions: very high temperature, very cold weather, very dry air, very humid conditions
* Sensitivity to food such as dairy products, eggs, chemical preservatives, additives, food coloring, citrus fruits, wheat products, seafood, and so on.
* Intense emotions such mourning, excitement, fear, depression, etc.
* Physical, mental and emotional stress
There are many other factors and combinations of factors that can cause episodes of eczema. It is thus best to avoid these things if you know you are prone to the condition. Nevertheless, the treatment for eczema is rather simply and widely available. In any case, it is best to consult with your family doctor or your dermatologist.