Eczema, Allergies, and Atopic Dermatitis: What's the Connection?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a serious skin condition that can decrease the quality of life of individuals and their families. It is associated with the development of food and environmental allergies, and develops due to a defective skin barrier. Studies show that if one or both parents have eczema, asthma, or seasonal allergies, their child is more likely to have eczema. In addition, children with the disease may be at increased risk of developing allergies or asthma. When it comes to airborne allergies, inhalant allergens and atopic dermatitis are closely associated and often occur together.

Although food allergies do not cause eczema, they can cause worsening of existing eczema symptoms. The process by which rashes are triggered may vary depending on the type of food eaten, as well as the immune response of the individual. Dry skin can also be a factor in eczema. When the skin is dry, it can cause symptoms of eczema, such as brittle, rough, or scaly skin. People who develop eczema in childhood or early childhood are more likely to experience severe symptoms of food allergy. A doctor can determine whether food allergy testing is necessary and what forms of testing are appropriate.

If you have any allergies to these substances, they can trigger the inflammatory response that can worsen the symptoms of eczema. In addition, many immunologists hypothesize that food allergens can reach immune cells more easily through a dysfunctional skin barrier affected by atopic dermatitis, triggering biological processes that cause food allergies. According to the researchers, eczema seemed to precede the development of allergy, suggesting that the former somehow triggered the second. It has been hypothesized that eczema leaves the body looking for allergies, in part by decreasing the barrier function of the skin. The expectation is that all patients with eczema should take steps to minimize environmental allergens where they can, for example, by closing windows when pollen counts are high. In addition, one of the most important ways to treat mild atopic dermatitis is by frequently moisturizing with an ointment or cream to prevent dry skin. If food allergies are suspected in a patient with eczema, foods are introduced one at a time as a medically supervised dietary challenge, to confirm which food causes the outbreak of eczema.

A doctor can help determine whether food allergy testing is necessary and what forms of testing are appropriate.

Riya Hutchings
Riya Hutchings

On a quest to combat Contact Dermatitis!