The Connection Between Eczema and Allergies
The link between eczema and allergies is often forgotten because eczema is commonly viewed as a separate condition, rather than a possible side effect. Eczema and allergies are both caused by the same thing: an overreaction of the immune system to something in the environment. Understanding the link could be the key to managing your condition.
There is some good evidence that eczema in childhood might lead to hay fever (a type of seasonal allergy) and asthma in adulthood. If your child has eczema and you have either hay fever or asthma, they might simply be echoing your condition.
Studies show that if one or both parents have eczema, asthma, or seasonal allergies, their child is more likely to have underlying eczema. What’s more, children with eczema may be more at risk for getting another allergy or asthma. There are various ways to soothe eczema and possibly decrease the chances of having allergies.
The most common cause of eczema is an allergic reaction to a substance. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and dry. Allergic reactions are typically triggered by substances in the air, food, or on the skin.
What is an allergy?
Allergic reactions happen when the body’s immune system overreacts to a usually-harmless substance. These substances are called “allergens” and they can be found in many forms like food, environment, or medicine. The reaction will always be different based on the person and when it occurs.
The immune system is made up of cells that protect us from disease. When something enters our body that it doesn’t recognize, it releases antibodies to fight it off. In some people, their immune system overreacts and releases too many antibodies, which can cause eczema or allergies.
Atopy is a genetic tendency to develop allergic disorders. When atopic people are exposed to allergens, their immune system reacts which leads to minor inflammation. This can cause symptoms in the:
Eyes/nose which results in allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and/or conjunctivitis.
Skin resulting in eczema, or hives.
Lungs resulting in asthma.
The link between eczema and allergies
The link between eczema and allergies is becoming more and more clear as we continue to gather data. Here are some statistics that highlight this link.
- 37% of children with eczema also have some kind of food allergy.
- If a mother has allergies, the odds their baby will have eczema are about 1 in 3.
- Thirty-five percent of adults with asthma or nasal allergies had eczema when they were kids
- 35% of adults with asthma or nasal allergies had eczema as a child.
- Up to 80% of children with eczema develop hay fever or asthma at some point.
- Eczema affects 10% of people in the world and 50% of children with it develop asthma. The severity of eczema impacts how likely a child is to develop asthma.
Tips to help soothe eczema and allergies
Eczema and allergies are growing issues in the United States. The National Eczema Association estimates that between 10-20% of the population suffers from eczema at some point in their life.
In order to stop or prevent eczema and allergies, you need to identify what is causing them. Is it a food allergy? Is it an environmental allergy? There are many different causes for both of these conditions, so it is important to find out what is causing them and then do your best to avoid that trigger or get rid of it completely.
There are many treatments that can help relieve eczema, but these treatments may not work for everyone. The following tips may help soothe eczema and allergies:
Get allergy tests. If you know the culprit, you can figure out ways to avoid it.
Keep an eczema journal. Write down the foods you eat, where you were, what clothes you were wearing, and what environmental factors might have been contributing to any irritation.
Avoid things that irritate your skin such as wool, soap, detergents (always use unscented versions), perfumes, chemicals and cigarette smoke.
Keep the humidity in your house below 45% to prevent mold growth.
Turn the exhaust fan on while you have the shower or bath running to stop the walls from getting damp.
Use an ointment or thick cream as a moisturizer to help protect your skin from drying out.
There’s some evidence that breastfeeding for the first 12 months of your baby’s life may decrease the chances of allergies or asthma later.
Think about any dietary triggers and inflammatory foods that you may be consuming in your daily diet. Try to eat a healthy balanced diet and avoid overeating at night.
Make sure your fingernails are short and avoid scratching
Common Types of Eczemas
Eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed. Eczema can be caused by various things such as food allergies, contact with irritants or allergens, and atopic dermatitis. There are many types of eczemas that are classified by their cause.
- Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common eczema types triggered by allergic reactions to environmental factors such as dust mites or pet dander.
- Contact dermatitis is another type of eczema which is caused by contact with irritants or allergens such as poison ivy, nettle rash, and insect bites.
- Dyshidrotic eczema can cause tiny blisters on your feet and hands. It’s more common in women than men.
- Food allergies also cause an individual to have eczema because they are allergic to certain types of foods like peanuts or shellfish which they come in contact with in their daily lives.
What are the best remedies for allergies and eczema?
There are a number of home remedies to relieve allergens or irritants. These remedies are very effective in relieving the symptoms of allergies and eczema. Some of these home remedies include:
- Dusting your house with baking soda
- Vacuuming your carpets on a regular basis
- Washing your bedsheets and pillows on a weekly basis
- Using an air purifier in your bedroom at night
- Cleaning the surfaces in your kitchen with lemon juice and vinegar
Types of Allergies and Eczema Treatments That Are Available
There are many types of allergies and eczema treatments that are available.
The main treatment option for allergies is immunotherapy. This therapy exposes the patient to small amounts of the allergen until they build up a tolerance. Doctors are now recommending allergy shots for people who have allergies. These shots slowly expose your body to more and more of something that triggers your allergy symptoms. This is done in a safe way and may help you get relief from the symptoms of your allergies.
The main treatment option for eczema is topical creams that contain corticosteroids. Topical corticosteroids work by reducing the inflammation in the skin caused by eczema. They also reduce itching and redness. But they have many side effects, including thinning of the skin, easy bruising, and infection. Another treatment is phototherapy (also called PUVA), which uses ultraviolet light to reduce inflammation in the skin caused by eczema. But it has side effects too: it can cause a sensitivity to sunlight, eye problems, and cancer risks if used for long periods of time without protection from UV rays.
There are also some natural treatments like organic oils that can be used to treat eczema symptoms such as itchiness or dryness. Organic oils work because they contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritated skin.