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What are the causes of eczema?

After being diagnosed with eczema, you will probably have a lot of questions. The cause of the eczema will certainly be among them: What caused my eczema? If I could pinpoint the cause of my eczema, maybe I could follow a strict set of rules that will prevent the red plaques on my skin from ever coming back…

Such hopes are often dashed. Eczema is a complex and multi-factorial disease. There is not one single cause but several causes of eczema. Anyone who expects to pinpoint one single responsible factor will end up with a list of probable causes. 

Stress-induced eczema

Avoiding all the different substances responsible is not always easy, and in any case, will not guarantee the prevention of flare-ups. Nevertheless, identifying triggers and/or aggravating factors is worthwhile in order to better control the disease.

There is one exception however: contact eczema specifically occurs at the point of contact with the allergenic substance, meaning that, in this case, there is only one cause. The agent causing the flare-ups is sometimes difficult to identify but an allergist will be able to help you; sometimes it may be present in numerous everyday products and will therefore be difficult to avoid.

If we were to ask people in the street about eczema, a lot of them would say: "Eczema? It's caused by stress, isn't it? There is a longstanding and widely accepted idea that internal stress is expressed as eczema on the outside.

This is not completely true, and in any case, this is never the only cause. Claiming that eczema is caused by stress alone harks back to the belief that it is not a real disease, when in fact, many other factors come into play; skin composition, contact with allergens, climate, etc.

Stress can, however, not only be a cause but also a direct consequence of eczema because it makes you scratch, prevents you from sleeping, it's visible, it hurts, it takes a long time to heal and it puts you in a bad mood. Rest assured, there are tips to help you better manage your stress and live better with the disease day to day

Perspiration inspired eczema

Perspiration can play a major role in eczema. People can suffer from excessive perspiration when the weather is too hot or while playing sport, and this can aggravate eczema or even provoke certain flare-ups.

Allergic eczema

In cases of eczema, allergies are an important factor to take into account. However, strictly speaking, eczema is not an allergy-related disease, except in certain cases of contact eczema also known as allergic eczema or allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergies to certain types of pollen, food, and substances found in cosmetics, will definitely aggravate eczema. However, eczema sufferers are not really allergic to the wind, the cold, swimming pool water or wool. However, these various factors can cause skin dryness and/or irritations that may trigger an eczema flare-up.

For clarification, and particularly when lesions persist despite the treatment being correctly applied, it may be necessary to see an allergist to be tested for allergies. Patients often await the results with impatience but are sometimes very disappointed when these tests are unable to clearly identify one or several causative agents.

Hereditary eczema

Heredity and genes are another major cause of eczema, and are factors that we have absolutely no control over. In the case of atopic eczema, often all or some family members suffer from eczema or other atopic conditions such as asthma.

In all cases

When trying to establish the causes of eczema, it is sometimes tempting to change everything you use daily: detergent, toothpaste, pillows...This can prove to be very expensive and is not necessarily the solution to treating eczema. A dermatologist is the best placed person to answer your questions and avoid any unnecessary effort.

While trying to identify the causes of eczema it should be remembered that, above all, eczema flare-ups must be treated when they occur. Treatment must remain a priority even if this means applying creams every day, and in some cases, for the rest of your life.