Many factors can contribute to eczema, including an interaction between your environment and your genes. When an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body “switches on” the immune system, it produces inflammation, or a flare-up, on the surface of the skin. This inflammation causes the symptoms common to most types of eczema. There is also a potential genetic component to eczema that includes a protein called “filaggrin” that helps maintain moisture in your skin; a filaggrin deficiency can lead to drier, itchier skin.
Many common household items are also potential environmental irritants and can cause allergic reactions leading to an eczema flare. Additional common triggers of eczema may include:
Emotional stress can also trigger an eczema flare-up, but it’s not exactly known why. Some people’s eczema symptoms and flare-ups get worse when they’re feeling “stressed.” Others may become stressed, just knowing they have eczema, and this can make their skin flare up.
The most important thing to remember is that eczema and its symptoms are different for everyone. Every individual’s skin care routine will also impact the affected areas of the skin differently. Your eczema may not look the same on you as it does on another adult or on your child. Different types of eczema may even appear in different affected areas of the body at different times. Some people mistake symptoms of psoriasis for eczema, although the two conditions are different.
Eczema almost always includes itchy skin. The scientific term for itch is “pruritus.” For many people, the itch can range from mild to moderate. Sometimes the itch gets so bad that people scratch it until it bleeds. This is called the “itch-scratch cycle.”
Symptoms of eczema often include:
You might have all of these symptoms of eczema or only just a few. You might have some flare-ups or your symptoms could go away entirely. Eczema can appear red in lighter skin, whereas people of color may experience eczema as ashen skin, grey skin, darker brown or purple in color. Black Americans are more likely to report severe symptoms associated with eczema.
The best way to find out if you have eczema is to consult with a healthcare provider, such as a dermatologist who has experience diagnosing and treating eczema.
Treatment is available...Come see the Dermatologist for specific treatment.