Eczema and Asthma: Exploring the Connection

Living with eczema and asthma has shown me how these conditions can change your life. The itch, the shortness of breath, and dealing with flare-ups are tough. But, what if these conditions are more connected than we think?

Eczema, asthma, and allergies are linked in a complex web. This group is called the “atopic triad.” Having one of these conditions raises the risk of getting the others. This is known as the “atopic march.” Knowing about this link helps us manage these conditions better and might stop them from getting worse.


Key Takeaways

  • Eczema, asthma, and allergies are often linked, with the presence of one condition increasing the risk of developing the others.
  • Inflammation and immune system dysfunction play a crucial role in the connection between these conditions.
  • Severe eczema in childhood is a significant risk factor for developing asthma later in life.
  • Eczema can precede the development of allergies and asthma, a phenomenon known as the “atopic march.”
  • Shared environmental triggers, such as allergens and irritants, can exacerbate both eczema and asthma.

Understanding the Atopic Triad

The atopic triad links eczema, asthma, and allergies together. This connection, known as the “atopic march,” often starts with eczema. Then, food allergies may appear, followed by asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Asthma, Eczema, and Allergies: The Interconnected Conditions

People with eczema often face a higher chance of getting asthma and allergies. Over 25% of those with eczema may develop asthma, which is more than three times the normal rate. Children with eczema are seven times more likely to get asthma by age 3.

This shows how these conditions are linked. Factors that cause one condition can lead to the others. Understanding this helps in early treatment to stop the progression and lower asthma risk.

The Role of Inflammation and Immune System Dysfunction

The immune system, inflammation, and allergic reactions are key to the atopic triad. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies play a big part in these conditions. But, not everyone with IgE will have these conditions, and other factors like genetics can also play a role.

Knowing about the atopic triad and its progression is crucial. It helps in managing these conditions better. By understanding the links between them, healthcare professionals and patients can work together for better care.

“The progression of conditions in the atopic march typically begins with dry skin, progresses to atopic dermatitis, and may include allergies and asthma.”

Prevalence and Progression of the Atopic March

The atopic march is a well-known pattern where atopic disorders start with childhood eczema and then lead to asthma and allergies. It’s important to understand how common and how these conditions progress. This knowledge helps in managing and preventing these conditions together.

Eczema as a Risk Factor for Developing Asthma and Allergies

A 2012 National Health Interview Survey found many kids in the U.S. had eczema, asthma, allergies, and food allergies. A 2016 study looked at a group of kids with these conditions. It showed how these disorders are connected.

Children with atopic eczema are at a higher risk of getting asthma. About 20% of kids with mild eczema and 60% with severe eczema will get asthma. Severe eczema is also linked to developing peanut allergies. But, having one symptom doesn’t mean you’ll get all of them. Only 7% of kids with at least one symptom will get all three.

Condition Prevalence
Eczema 149 cases per 1,023-1,028 children (0-42 months)
Asthma risk in children with eczema 120 cases per 565-569 controls
Asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema symptoms 1,225-1,232 cases worldwide
Atopic dermatitis from birth to age 7 113 cases out of 925-931 children
Rhinitis associated with asthma in relation to atopic sensitization 86-93 participants
Asthma incidence and persistence until middle age based on childhood allergic rhinitis 120 cases reaching 863-869

The atopic march doesn’t always follow a straight path. Many genetic and environmental factors influence its progression. More research is needed to understand this complex process better. This will help improve how we care for patients with these conditions.

Severity of Eczema and Asthma Risk

The severity of eczema is key in linking it to asthma. About 20% of kids with mild eczema might get asthma. But, this jumps to around 60% for kids with severe eczema.

Eczema can make asthma worse and make it last longer into adulthood. The exact reasons for this link are still being studied. The “atopic march” shows how eczema in kids can lead to asthma later on.

Eczema Severity Asthma Risk
Mild Eczema 20% of children develop asthma
Severe Eczema 60% of children develop asthma

How bad eczema is matters a lot for asthma risk. Severe eczema is more likely to lead to asthma. Knowing this helps doctors and parents manage the eczema severity and asthma risk in kids. Early action can stop the childhood eczema asthma progression seen in the atopic march.

“The severity of eczema appears to influence the association between asthma and eczema. Approximately 20% of children with mild eczema develop asthma, while the percentage increases to about 60% for children with severe eczema.”

Understanding the eczema severity and asthma risk link helps doctors manage both conditions better. This can greatly improve life quality for those affected by the atopic march.

The Genetic and Environmental Links

Eczema and asthma often go together. Research shows that people with both conditions might have a genetic link to allergies and environmental triggers. Those with eczema and asthma tend to make more immunoglobulin E (IgE) when they come across allergens. This means their immune system reacts more strongly.

The link between eczema and asthma is called the “atopic march.” It’s influenced by genes and the environment. Genes can make some people more likely to have allergies. Environmental factors, like allergens getting into the body through damaged skin, can trigger immune reactions. These reactions can lead to inflammation and the development of asthma and other allergies.

Exploring the Shared Susceptibilities and Triggers

Studies have looked into what makes people more likely to get eczema and asthma:

  • The number of kids with asthma, allergies, and eczema is going up in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.
  • A study in French–Canadian kids found that those with eczema were more likely to get asthma later.
  • The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) showed that asthma, allergies, and eczema are more common in different parts of the world.
  • About 60% of people with eczema might get asthma or hay fever later, and 30% might have food allergies.
  • Having a certain filaggrin gene mutation can make the skin more open to allergens, which can cause eczema.

Things like dust mites, pollen, mold, and pet dander can make breathing harder for people with eczema. Cold or dry air, stress, infections, and some household products can also make asthma and eczema worse.

Knowing how genes and the environment connect eczema and asthma helps us find better ways to manage these conditions.

Are Eczema and Asthma Related?

Eczema and asthma are different conditions that affect different parts of the body. Yet, studies show they are linked. The National Eczema Association says about 20% of adults with eczema also have asthma. A 2021 study found that 14.2–52.5% of people with eczema also have asthma. Why this link exists is still a mystery, but both conditions involve long-term inflammation.

Examining the Connection Between Skin and Respiratory Disorders

Researchers have looked into why eczema and asthma are connected. They found that kids with eczema by age 2 are more likely to get asthma by age 6. The study showed that kids with eczema early on were at higher risk of asthma later.

Mark Ansel and Marlys Fassett have studied the link between eczema and asthma. Ansel looks at immune cells and lung inflammation in asthma. Fassett is a dermatologist who studies eczema and treats allergic reactions. Their work shows that the same immune cell, the T-cell, produces molecules linked to both conditions.

This research has led to new treatments, like Dupilumab, which targets immune molecules. It has helped with allergic asthma and some COPD patients. Nemolizumab, in trials for eczema, might also help with asthma and other conditions. This teamwork between doctors and scientists is key to improving treatments.

Many kids with eczema go on to have hay fever or asthma, and adults with asthma often had eczema as kids. If a mom has allergies, her baby is more likely to get eczema. Also, kids with severe eczema often have food allergies.

The link between eczema and asthma is complex but researchers have found several common causes. These include genetics, immune system issues, and environmental factors. Knowing how these conditions are connected helps doctors treat and prevent them, improving life for those affected.

Allergies as Potential Triggers for Eczema and Asthma

If you have eczema, your immune system might overreact to things around you. This can make eczema symptoms worse. A study in 2021 showed that peanut allergies were more common in infants with eczema. It also found that having other food allergies or a family history of peanut allergy increased the risk.

People with asthma can also have flare-ups because of allergies. About 80% of asthma patients also have allergies. It’s important to know what can trigger their asthma.

The Role of Peanut Allergies and Other Food Sensitivities

Food allergies, like peanut allergies, can trigger eczema and asthma. Young children with eczema often have allergies to milk or eggs. Testing can find out what allergies cause eczema, and some may need allergy shots to help.

Allergies and asthma often go together. Some people have allergic asthma because of things like pollen or dust mites. Medicines like montelukast (Singulair) and allergy shots can help with symptoms of both.

“Eczema may occur after exposure to grass, tree, or ragweed pollen, along with indoor or outdoor mold.”

Having allergies in your family can increase your risk of allergic asthma. Hay fever or other allergies also raise the chance of getting asthma. Knowing and avoiding allergy and asthma triggers is key to managing symptoms.

Other Triggers and Exacerbating Factors

Allergies can trigger eczema and asthma, but there are many other factors that can make these conditions worse. It’s important to know what triggers your symptoms to manage them better.

Eczema Triggers

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can be caused by many things. Some common triggers include:

  • Dry skin
  • Irritating soaps, detergents, and personal care products
  • Certain fabrics, such as wool or synthetic materials
  • Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold
  • Stress and emotional factors

Keeping your skin healthy and avoiding known triggers can help control eczema. Keeping track of what triggers your eczema can also help you avoid them.

Asthma Triggers

Asthma can be set off by many things, like:

  1. Respiratory infections, such as colds, flu, or sinus infections
  2. Exercise and physical activity, especially in cold air
  3. Air pollutants, including cigarette smoke and certain chemicals
  4. Weather changes, including dry winds, sudden temperature shifts, and thunderstorms
  5. Strong emotions, such as stress, anger, or laughter
  6. Certain medications, including aspirin and beta-blockers

Knowing and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you manage your condition. This can prevent serious asthma episodes.

Eczema Triggers Asthma Triggers
Dry skin Respiratory infections
Irritating soaps and products Exercise and physical activity
Certain fabrics Air pollutants
Extreme temperatures Weather changes
Stress and emotional factors Strong emotions
Certain medications

Being aware of your personal triggers and the environment can help you manage eczema and asthma. This can improve your life quality.

“Recognizing and avoiding triggers is the first step in controlling eczema and asthma. Everyone is different, so it’s important to identify your unique triggers through careful observation and record-keeping.”

Managing Eczema and Asthma: A Comprehensive Approach

Living with eczema and asthma can be tough, but you can manage your symptoms and improve your life. The key is a comprehensive approach that covers both medical and lifestyle aspects of your care.

Treatment Options and Lifestyle Modifications

There’s no cure for eczema or asthma, but you can manage your symptoms with the right treatments and lifestyle changes. Here are some ways to help:

  1. Medication Management: Work with your healthcare provider to create a treatment plan. This might include creams, ointments, or pills to reduce inflammation and ease symptoms.
  2. Skin Care Routine: Keep your skin moisturized daily to help it stay healthy and prevent dryness. Avoid harsh soaps and scents that can irritate your skin.
  3. Trigger Identification and Avoidance: Keep track of what triggers your eczema and asthma, like certain foods or stress. Try to avoid them as much as you can.
  4. Stress Management: Use relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help control stress’s impact on your conditions.
  5. Allergy Management: If you have allergies, work with your healthcare provider to manage your triggers. These can affect both eczema and asthma.
  6. Lifestyle Modifications: Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to support your overall health.

By using targeted treatments and making lifestyle changes, you can actively manage your eczema and asthma. This can make a big difference in your daily life.

Treatment Option Eczema Asthma
Topical Medications Corticosteroids, Calcineurin Inhibitors, PDE4 Inhibitors Inhaled Corticosteroids, Bronchodilators
Systemic Medications Oral Corticosteroids, Biologics Oral Corticosteroids, Biologic Therapies
Lifestyle Changes Moisturizing, Avoiding Triggers, Stress Management Reducing Exposure to Triggers, Regular Exercise, Stress Management

Managing eczema and asthma is an ongoing process. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to find the best approach for you. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can take control of your conditions and improve your life.

The Cellular Mechanisms Behind the Atopic Triad

Eczema, asthma, and allergies are linked conditions that share common cellular mechanisms. They are part of the “atopic triad.” To grasp these links, we need to explore the immune system’s complex workings. This includes how it can malfunction in people with atopic disorders.

Understanding the Immune System’s Overreaction

At the core of the atopic triad is an overactive immune response. When someone with asthma breathes in something like dust mites or pollen, their immune cells see it as a threat. They send out an alert to other immune cells.

Normally, certain T helper cells would calm down the immune system. But in asthma, these cells turn into T helper 2 cells. These cells boost the immune response, causing inflammation, airway spasms, and more mucus.

In eczema, an allergen or irritant sets off an immune reaction in the skin. T helper 2 cells are again at the forefront, leading to inflammation and the red, itchy rashes of atopic dermatitis.

The cellular mechanisms behind the atopic triad and the immune system’s overreaction in eczema and asthma are key to understanding their connection.

“Understanding the complex interplay between the skin, respiratory system, and immune system is crucial in unraveling the mysteries of the atopic triad and developing effective treatments.”

The Importance of Early Intervention and Prevention

Eczema and asthma often start in childhood. Many kids get better as they grow, but they don’t always outgrow these conditions. Early action and prevention can really help manage these conditions better.

Understanding what triggers eczema and asthma helps us make good plans to tackle them early. By focusing on skin health and introducing allergens carefully, we can stop these conditions from getting worse. This approach can lead to better health outcomes over time.

Preventing the Atopic March

Studies show that we can stop the atopic march in its tracks:

  • Using moisturizers and emollients can make the skin healthier. This can lower the chance of food allergies and asthma in kids with eczema.
  • Adding foods like peanuts to a baby’s diet in a safe way can help them get used to them. This might stop food allergies from happening.
  • Probiotics during pregnancy or early childhood can cut down the risk of asthma and wheezing in kids.
  • Good eczema care with creams and avoiding triggers can stop asthma and other allergies from starting.

Addressing Environmental Factors

Environmental factors also play a big role in eczema and asthma. We need to tackle these to prevent these conditions:

  • Being around germs in early childhood can lower the chance of asthma.
  • Having pets like dogs and cats early on can make kids less likely to develop allergies.
  • Keeping away from pollution, secondhand smoke, and other harmful substances can stop eczema and asthma in kids.

By focusing on both personal and environmental factors, we can help manage the atopic march. This teamwork between healthcare and families can lead to better health for kids with eczema and asthma.

“Early intervention and prevention strategies are crucial in managing the progression of the atopic march and improving long-term outcomes for those affected by eczema and asthma.”


Eczema and asthma often go hand in hand, forming the atopic triad with allergies. Studies show they share common genetic traits, environmental triggers, and immune system issues. Early action, finding personal triggers, and a full treatment plan can help those with eczema and asthma live better.

These conditions affect people all over the world, with things like race, age, and environment playing big roles. Tests like IgE levels can spot kids at risk. Knowing how the immune system works can lead to better treatments.

Understanding the link between eczema, asthma, and allergies shows the need for a complete approach to care. Doctors can help patients manage their symptoms and enhance their life quality by tackling the root causes and related conditions.


Are eczema and asthma related?

Yes, eczema and asthma are closely linked. They often happen together with allergies. This is known as the atopic triad. Researchers have found many factors that connect them, like shared genes, environmental triggers, and immune system issues.

What is the atopic triad?

The atopic triad means asthma, eczema, and allergies often happen together. It usually starts with eczema, then food allergies, and ends with asthma and allergic rhinitis.

How are inflammation and the immune system involved in the link between eczema and asthma?

Eczema and asthma are both inflammatory conditions. They happen when the immune system overreacts. In eczema, something like an allergen makes the skin inflame. In asthma, an inhaled trigger makes the airways inflame and spasm.

How does the severity of eczema affect the risk of developing asthma?

How bad eczema is can change the chance of getting asthma. About 20% of kids with mild eczema get asthma. This goes up to about 60% for kids with severe eczema. Eczema can also make asthma worse and last longer into adulthood.

What is the “atopic march”?

The atopic march is when eczema turns into allergies and asthma. Eczema is common in kids and can lead to asthma and allergies later. Having one condition in the atopic triad means you’re more likely to get another.

How are genetic and environmental factors involved in the link between eczema and asthma?

Genes and the environment help cause the atopic march. Being exposed to allergens through damaged skin can start an immune response. People with both eczema and asthma often have genes that make them more likely to have allergies and react to environmental triggers.

Can allergies trigger eczema and asthma flare-ups?

Yes, allergies can make eczema and asthma worse. In eczema, an allergic reaction can cause flare-ups. For asthma, reacting to an allergen can also make symptoms worse.

What other factors can trigger or worsen eczema and asthma?

Many things can trigger eczema and asthma, like exercise, infections, stress, smoke, pollutants, and some medicines. Knowing what triggers your conditions is key to managing them.

How can eczema and asthma be managed?

There’s no cure for asthma or eczema, but treatments can help. For asthma, make a plan with your doctor, take your meds, and avoid triggers. For eczema, don’t scratch, moisturize, use creams, take antihistamines, and use wet compresses. Avoiding your triggers is also important for both conditions.

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