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Eczema and allergy

Eczema is often associated with the notion of allergy: allergy to food, pollen, dust mites, animal fur, fragrances, metals, certain cosmetics, etc. Some people even report being "allergic to everything"! The reality is a little more complex. As a reminder, the allergy is also called hypersensitivity, it corresponds to an abnormal and exaggerated reaction of the immune system to elements foreign to the body called allergens

What is the link between eczema and allergy?

It is true that eczema can be directly caused by an allergy. This is particularly the case with contact eczema, where we become allergic to a substance that comes into prolonged contact with the skin. For the rest, the cause-effect relationship is less clear; the allergen is an eczema-aggravating factor rather than a real cause of the disease. Furthermore, in most cases, it is not a real allergy but more of a sensitization of the body to certain substances when ingested, inhaled or applied to the skin.

Allergy testing

For a clearer idea, sometimes it is necessary to consult an allergist and undergo further allergy testing. People with eczema are furthermore very willing to undergo this testing since they want to find THE culprit, the one thing responsible for their eczema. However, their doctor and allergist must be clear: the tests only help to highlight aggravating factors. Elimination of these factors can limit eczema (less intense and/or less frequent flare-ups) but without it disappearing completely; the skin will especially always be dry and sensitive.

Allergy tests include putting the skin in contact with various substances known for their allergenic properties. There are essentially two types of allergy tests: prick tests on the forearm (almost-instant results, after about 15 minutes) and patch tests on the back (delayed results, after 48h then 72h).