Eczema and Allergies: Understanding the Connection

As a parent, I’ve faced the tough challenges of dealing with my child’s eczema. The constant flare-ups, the search for the right treatments, and the fear of it being linked to allergies can be overwhelming. But what if I told you that eczema and allergies are closely linked? This connection could be the key to helping your child feel better.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that often starts in early childhood. It can be triggered by many things, including environmental irritants and stress. But recent studies show that allergies may also play a big part in making eczema worse.

Key Takeaways

  • Up to 80% of children with eczema develop allergies like hay fever or asthma later in life.
  • Eczema is often the first step in the “atopic march” – a progression from eczema to food allergies, then to asthma and inhalant allergies.
  • People with eczema have a higher risk of developing allergies due to a predisposition called “atopy.”
  • Genetics and environmental factors like skin barrier dysfunction and immune system imbalances contribute to the link between eczema and allergies.
  • Identifying and avoiding allergen triggers can help manage both eczema and allergic symptoms.

The Atopic March: From Eczema to Allergies

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is often the first sign of the “atopic march”. This is the progression from eczema to food allergies, hay fever, and asthma. Researchers are still debating whether the skin barrier defect leads to allergies, or if allergies cause the skin barrier to become defective.

The Chicken-or-the-Egg Debate

Some think a defective skin barrier lets allergens into the skin, causing an allergic reaction. Others believe an overactive immune system harms the skin barrier, leading to eczema. The truth likely falls somewhere in between, with genetics and environment playing a role in both eczema and allergies.

Genetic and Environmental Factors

Genetic changes in the filaggrin gene can make skin more prone to atopic dermatitis. But these changes don’t directly increase the risk of asthma or other allergies. Other genes, like the thymic stromal lymphopoietin gene, are linked to asthma risk.

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Exposure to pollution, tobacco smoke, and certain viruses can also raise the risk of moving from eczema to allergies. Understanding how genes and environment interact is key to tackling eczema and allergies.

“One in three children with atopic dermatitis (AD) will develop asthma or allergic rhinitis. Over 50% of children with severe AD develop asthma.”

The atopic march is a well-known pattern, showing many kids with eczema go on to develop other allergies. By tackling the root causes, doctors aim to stop or manage allergies in those with eczema.

Skin Barrier Defects and Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition. It often has a defective skin barrier. This barrier lets allergens and irritants easily get through, causing inflammation and flare-ups. Knowing how the skin barrier works and its main parts is key to managing eczema well.

The Role of Filaggrin

A lack of the protein filaggrin often makes the skin barrier weak in eczema. Filaggrin helps create the skin’s outer layer, the stratum corneum. Up to 30% of eczema patients have mutations in the filaggrin gene, making their skin barrier less effective.

Allergens Entering Through the Skin

With a weak skin barrier, allergens and irritants can easily get through and cause inflammation in eczema patients. About 90% of patients with atopic dermatitis have Staphylococcus aureus on their skin. This bacteria can make inflammation worse and cause infections.

Fixing the skin’s barrier is crucial for managing eczema. Moisturizers with ingredients like physiological lipids, humectants, and occlusive agents can help. The “soak and smear” method, applying topical treatments right after bathing, also boosts treatment effectiveness.

Other treatments like bleach baths, topical calcineurin inhibitors, and in severe cases, phototherapy or systemic immunosuppressants, may be needed. These help manage eczema and fix the skin barrier issues.

Food Allergies and Eczema Exacerbation

If you have eczema, you might know how frustrating it can be to deal with skin flare-ups. Did you know that up to 40% of kids with serious eczema also have a food allergy? Eating something you’re allergic to can make eczema worse, especially with foods like milk, eggs, nuts, and wheat.

Avoiding these foods might help make eczema better, but not everyone with eczema has a food allergy. The link between food allergies and eczema is complex. Knowing about this connection is key to managing both conditions well.

The Impact of Food Allergies on Eczema

Eczema and food allergies often go together. Skin reactions to food allergies can include swollen lips or eyelids, hives, wheals, or lumps in the skin’s uppermost layer. Digestive issues can cause vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. In bad cases, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis can happen, which is an emergency.

Certain foods like eggs, milk, soy, wheat, and peanuts are common food allergies that can make eczema worse. Avoiding these foods might help some people feel better, but it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider for advice.

Exploring the Connection

The link between food allergies and eczema is complex and not fully understood. Some studies suggest that treating eczema in babies might prevent food allergies. Others have found more allergic reactions from chemicals in nail products due to new trends.

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About 30% of people with atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema) also have food allergies. Food allergies are officially linked with atopic dermatitis, asthma, and depression.

Some foods might not show up on allergy tests but can still make eczema worse. This can make diagnosing eczema reactions tricky. It’s important to see a healthcare provider to manage eczema and food allergies well.

Are Eczema and Allergies Related?

If you have eczema, you might see a link between it and allergies. In fact, up to 80% of kids with eczema later get hay fever or asthma. This shows how these conditions are closely related. Knowing this is key to managing both eczema and allergies well.

Allergy Testing: Skin and Blood Tests

Your doctor might suggest allergy tests to find out what triggers your eczema and allergies. These tests include skin prick tests and blood tests. Skin prick tests use small amounts of possible allergens on your skin. Blood tests check for IgE antibodies, which show an allergic reaction.

These tests can find out what’s causing your issues, like foods, pollen, or pet dander. But remember, a positive test doesn’t always mean you’ll react allergically. Sometimes, you might need more tests, like food challenges, to confirm a food allergy.

Interpreting Food Allergy Test Results

Food allergies and eczema can be tricky together. Up to 63% of young kids with serious eczema have food allergies. Common culprits include milk, egg, peanut, wheat, and soy.

If your tests show IgE antibodies to certain foods, it’s important to talk to your doctor. A positive test doesn’t always mean a severe reaction is coming. Your doctor might suggest more tests or a food challenge to confirm the allergy.

Understanding how eczema and allergies are linked helps you and your healthcare team make a good plan. By avoiding your triggers, you can reduce flare-ups and better your skin health and overall well-being.

Common Food Allergens in Eczema Patients

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition often linked to food allergies. Up to 30 percent of children with eczema also have food allergies. Common allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.

The Role of Food Challenges

Eliminating these foods can sometimes help improve eczema symptoms. But, many positive allergy tests are actually wrong. The only way to know for sure is through supervised oral food challenges.

In these tests, the patient eats small amounts of the suspected food under close medical watch. This helps see if it causes an allergic reaction.

Food challenges are the top method for diagnosing food allergies in eczema patients. They help find true food triggers and safe foods to eat again. This is key, as avoiding foods without proof can cause nutritional problems, especially in kids.

Key Statistics Insights
  • 30% of children with eczema also have food allergies
  • Common trigger foods include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat
  • Positive allergy tests are often false positives
  • Food challenges are the best way to identify true food triggers for eczema
  • Eliminating foods without a confirmed allergy can lead to nutritional deficiencies
  • Proper diagnosis and management of food allergies is crucial for eczema patients

Understanding the role of common food allergens in eczema patients is key. Using supervised food challenges to find true triggers is vital for managing this chronic skin condition.

Inhalant Allergies and Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition linked to environmental inhalant allergies. Common airborne triggers like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold can make eczema worse. This leads to itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin.

People with atopic dermatitis often have more IgE antibodies to these inhalant allergens. Research by Chapman MD et al. (1983) found IgG and IgE antibodies in atopic dermatitis patients. Leiferman K et al. (1985) also found eosinophil granule major basic protein in atopic dermatitis, linking it to inhalant allergies.

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Studies show that being exposed to household allergens like house dust mites can increase skin mast cells. This, as noted by Mitchell EB et al. (1986), can make eczema worse by causing more inflammation.

Knowing and avoiding inhalant allergens is key to managing atopic dermatitis. Blood tests and skin prick tests can pinpoint which allergens cause eczema. By avoiding these environmental allergens, people with eczema can control their symptoms and improve their skin health.

Allergen Potential Impact on Eczema
Pollen Can make eczema worse during high pollen seasons
Dust Mites Long-term exposure can make eczema symptoms worse by increasing skin mast cell activity
Pet Dander Can cause eczema flare-ups in those allergic to animal proteins
Mold Exposure to mold can lead to inflammation and worsen eczema symptoms

Understanding the link between inhalant allergies and atopic dermatitis helps people with eczema manage their condition better. By identifying and avoiding their triggers, they can improve their skin and quality of life.

Managing Eczema and Allergies

Proper skin care is key to fighting eczema and allergies. Daily moisturizing with gentle products and avoiding harsh soaps helps repair the skin. This prevents flare-ups.

Skin Care as a First-line Defense

Topical corticosteroids are used to control itching and repair skin. They come in different strengths and are applied twice a day. For those over age 2, calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus are also options, but they have a warning about lymphoma risk.

Injectable biologics like dupilumab and tralokinumab help with severe eczema. Light therapy is also used for severe cases but is less common in young kids due to safety concerns.

Avoiding Triggers and Allergens

Avoiding triggers like foods and pollen helps prevent eczema flare-ups. For infants with eczema, up to 30% will develop food allergies. Around 40% may also get asthma and/or allergic rhinitis.

Common eczema triggers include dry weather and certain fabrics. Makeup, soaps, and emotional stress can also cause flare-ups. Food allergies like peanuts and dairy can make eczema worse for some people.

Using moisturizer twice a day and avoiding irritants helps manage eczema. Avoiding dry skin is crucial. Some people find relief with cannabinoids and natural oils for itching and skin thickening.

Immunotherapy for Eczema and Allergies

If you’re dealing with eczema and allergies, immunotherapy might help. This treatment works to calm your immune system’s overactive response to allergens.

It’s also known as allergy shots or sublingual drops. You get small amounts of the allergens that cause your symptoms. Over time, your immune system gets used to them, which can ease your symptoms.

At least 1 in 10 Americans have eczema, often along with allergies to things like dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, or foods. Studies show immunotherapy can help with both eczema and allergies by changing how your immune system reacts.

Building up sensitivity to an allergen takes 3-6 months, with shots or drops given weekly. For a quicker option, “rush” therapy can be done in one day. After that, you might need shots every few years to keep the benefits.

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Immunotherapy isn’t a cure, but it can really help with eczema and allergies. By 2023, the FDA approved two treatments for eczema: Dupixent and Adbry.

If you’re thinking about immunotherapy, talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you. With the right treatment, you might find lasting relief from eczema and allergies.

Statistic Value
Americans impacted by atopic dermatitis (eczema) At least 1 in 10
Time required for immunotherapy to build up sensitivity 3-6 months (standard) or 1 day (rush therapy)
FDA-approved immunotherapy treatments for eczema Dupixent and Adbry
Improvement in global assessment of disease severity with immunotherapy 78% of participants vs. 27% with placebo
Reported systemic adverse reactions with immunotherapy 6.4% of participants

Immunotherapy could greatly improve life for those with eczema and allergies. It targets the immune system’s overreaction, offering hope for lasting relief and better health.


The link between eczema and allergies is clear. The “atopic march” shows that eczema often comes before other allergies like asthma and hay fever. This underlines the need to understand this connection well.

Genetics, skin barrier issues, and environmental triggers all play a part in this complex relationship. They make managing eczema and allergies harder.

Managing these conditions requires a comprehensive approach. Using fragrance-free moisturizers can help keep the skin healthy. Avoiding known allergens is also key to preventing flare-ups.

In some cases, immunotherapy can help desensitize the immune system. This can offer long-term relief.

By understanding the link between eczema and allergies, you can take steps to improve your health. Working with healthcare experts is important for getting the right diagnosis and treatment plan. This plan should cover both eczema and allergies.

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Are eczema and allergies related?

Yes, eczema and allergies are closely linked. If parents have eczema, asthma, or allergies, their child might get eczema too. Eczema often starts the “atopic march” – moving to food allergies, hay fever, and asthma.

What causes the connection between eczema and allergies?

Researchers are still figuring it out. They debate if a weak skin barrier leads to allergies, or if allergies make the skin barrier weak. Things like genetics and environmental factors can increase the risk of both eczema and allergies.

How does a skin barrier defect contribute to eczema and allergies?

A weak skin barrier lets allergens and irritants into the skin, causing eczema. A common genetic issue is lacking the protein filaggrin, which helps protect the skin. This makes the skin more prone to dryness, irritation, and allergies, leading to eczema.

Can food allergies cause eczema flare-ups?

Yes, up to 40% of kids with serious eczema also have a food allergy. Eating the allergen can make eczema worse, especially with common allergens like milk, eggs, nuts, and wheat. Avoiding these foods might help improve eczema.

How are eczema and allergies diagnosed?

Doctors use allergy tests like skin prick tests and blood tests for IgE antibodies to find triggers. But a positive test doesn’t always mean a reaction will happen. More tests like food challenges might be needed to confirm allergies.

What are the most common food allergens linked to eczema?

Common food allergens linked to eczema include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. Removing these foods can sometimes help eczema, but many positive tests are false positives. Food challenges are the best way to know if a food causes eczema.

How do inhalant allergies affect eczema?

Inhalant allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold can make eczema worse. Avoiding these allergens is key to managing eczema.

How can eczema and allergies be managed?

Good skin care, like moisturizing daily and using gentle products, helps the skin heal. Avoiding triggers found through tests and controlling the environment can also prevent eczema flare-ups.

Can immunotherapy help with eczema and allergies?

Yes, treatments like allergy shots or sublingual drops can help. They make the immune system less reactive to allergens. This can improve allergy symptoms and eczema in some people.

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