Eczema - Causes

Introduction Causes Symptoms Treatments

Like asthma, eczema seems to run in families. Certain genes make some people have extra-sensitive skin, and certain environmental factors -- like stress -- can trigger an episode of eczema.

Eczema is also caused or worsened by contact with irritants in common substances such as:

  • woolen and synthetic fabrics
  • soap and other agents that dry skin
  • heat and sweat

Eczema can also be worsened by dry skin.
Since eczema may in part be an internal response to stress, any emotionally charged event -- from a move to a new job -- may trigger a flare-up.

Causes of Eczema

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it's thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to unknown triggers.
In addition, eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma.
Some people may suffer "flare-ups" of the itchy rash in response to certain substances or conditions. For some, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials may cause the skin to become itchy. For others, feeling too hot or too cold, exposure to certain household products like soap or detergent, or coming into contact with animal dander may cause an outbreak. Upper respiratory infections or colds may also be triggers. Stress may cause the condition to worsen.

Managing Eczema

Although there is no cure, most people can effectively manage their disease with medical treatment and by avoiding irritants. The condition is not contagious and can't be spread from person to person.