What Can Eczema Be Linked To?

Did you know that eczema, a common skin condition characterized by red, itchy patches, could potentially be linked to a number of other factors? From genetics and allergies to environmental triggers and stress, there are several potential connections that researchers are exploring. Understanding these possible links can help individuals better manage their eczema and make informed choices about their lifestyle and skincare routines. So, let’s take a closer look at what eczema can be linked to and how it can impact our daily lives.

Genetic Factors

Family History of Eczema

If you have eczema, you may wonder why you developed this condition. Well, one factor that could be contributing to your eczema is your genetic makeup. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of eczema are more likely to develop the condition themselves. If one or both of your parents have eczema, there is a higher chance that you will have it too. This means that certain genes may be responsible for predisposing you to this skin condition.

Gene Mutations

In addition to family history, gene mutations may play a role in the development of eczema. Certain variations in genes that are involved in the immune system and skin barrier function have been associated with an increased risk of eczema. These gene mutations can affect the way your body responds to allergens, irritants, and other environmental triggers that can worsen eczema symptoms. However, it’s important to note that having these gene mutations doesn’t automatically mean you will develop eczema. Other factors also come into play.

Environmental Triggers


Eczema flare-ups can often be triggered by exposure to certain allergens. Common allergens include dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and certain foods. When your body comes into contact with these allergens, your immune system reacts by releasing chemicals that cause inflammation, leading to itching and redness. It’s important to identify and avoid these allergens as much as possible to manage your eczema symptoms effectively. Allergy testing can also be helpful in determining specific allergens to avoid.


Alongside allergens, irritants can also trigger eczema flare-ups. Examples of irritants include harsh soaps, detergents, fragrances, and certain skincare products. These substances can damage the skin’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to inflammation and irritation. It’s crucial to be mindful of the products you use and opt for gentle, fragrance-free options that won’t irritate your skin further. Additionally, wearing protective clothing and gloves when handling irritants can help minimize contact and potential flare-ups.

Climate and Weather Conditions

Believe it or not, the climate and weather conditions can have a significant impact on your eczema symptoms. Dry weather, low humidity, and cold temperatures can cause your skin to become dry, leading to increased itching and irritation. On the other hand, hot and humid weather may result in excessive sweating, which can also worsen eczema symptoms. It’s essential to keep your skin moisturized during dry weather and regulate your exposure to extreme temperatures to minimize flare-ups.

Immune System Dysfunction

Atopic Tendency

If you have eczema, chances are you have an immune system that is “atopically inclined.” Atopy refers to the tendency to develop allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma, and hay fever. Individuals with atopic tendency have an immune system that overreacts to certain allergens, triggering an inflammatory response and contributing to eczema symptoms. This heightened immune response is characterized by elevated levels of certain immune cells and chemicals in the skin. Understanding this immune system dysfunction can help in managing your eczema effectively.

Immune System Abnormalities

In addition to atopy, certain immune system abnormalities have been linked to eczema. These abnormalities can affect the production and function of immune cells, leading to an increased susceptibility to infections and inflammation. Researchers are still exploring the precise mechanisms by which immune system abnormalities contribute to eczema, but it is clear that a dysfunctional immune system plays a role. This knowledge can guide the development of targeted therapies to help manage eczema symptoms.

Skin Barrier Dysfunction

Dry Skin

One of the key factors in eczema development is a compromised skin barrier. Dry skin, a common characteristic in individuals with eczema, can weaken the skin barrier, allowing irritants, allergens, and bacteria to penetrate the skin more easily. This can trigger an immune response and lead to the inflammation, itching, and redness associated with eczema. For those with eczema-prone skin, it is crucial to keep the skin moisturized daily to maintain its natural protective barrier and reduce the risk of flare-ups.

Skin Barrier Abnormalities

Aside from dry skin, certain genetic factors can contribute to skin barrier abnormalities, making individuals more susceptible to eczema. The proteins that support the structure and integrity of the skin barrier may be deficient or compromised, leading to increased water loss and susceptibility to irritants and allergens. Understanding the role of these skin barrier abnormalities allows for the development of targeted strategies to repair and strengthen the skin barrier, reducing the frequency and severity of eczema flare-ups.

Allergic Reactions

Food Allergies

Food allergies can have a significant impact on eczema symptoms, especially in infants and young children. Common food allergens, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, and wheat, can trigger allergic reactions that manifest as eczema flare-ups. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to identify and eliminate potential food allergens from your diet. In some cases, food allergy testing may be necessary to determine the specific triggers. Keeping a food diary can also help identify any patterns between certain foods and eczema flare-ups.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies occur when your skin comes into direct contact with substances that you are allergic to. Common contact allergens that can worsen eczema symptoms include nickel in jewelry, certain metals, fragrances, and preservatives in skincare products. Identifying and avoiding these contact allergens is crucial in preventing irritating reactions that can exacerbate eczema. Patch testing can be performed by a dermatologist to identify specific contact allergens responsible for your eczema flare-ups.

Inhalant Allergies

Inhalant allergies, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, and pet dander, can also trigger eczema symptoms. When you inhale these allergens, your immune system may react and manifest as eczema flare-ups. It’s important to reduce your exposure to these allergens by keeping your home clean, using air purifiers if necessary, and avoiding prolonged outdoor exposure on high pollen or mold count days. Consult with your allergist for guidance on managing inhalant allergies and minimizing their impact on your eczema.

Stress and Emotional Factors


Stress is not only detrimental to your overall well-being but can also affect your eczema symptoms. When you experience stress, your body releases stress hormones, which can worsen inflammation and weaken your immune system. This can lead to increased eczema flare-ups and intensified itching. Finding effective stress management techniques, such as practicing mindfulness or engaging in relaxation exercises, can help reduce stress levels and potentially improve your eczema symptoms.


Anxiety, much like stress, can have a negative impact on your eczema. The psychological and emotional aspects of anxiety can trigger chemical changes in your body that may exacerbate eczema symptoms. Additionally, anxiety can lead to habits like frequent scratching or picking at the skin, further damaging the skin’s barrier and worsening flare-ups. Seeking therapy or counseling to address and manage your anxiety can not only benefit your mental health but also potentially improve your eczema symptoms.


Living with eczema can sometimes be challenging, and it’s not uncommon for individuals with this condition to experience feelings of depression. The physical discomfort, frustration, and self-consciousness associated with eczema can take a toll on your mental well-being. Depression can also contribute to increased stress levels, further aggravating your eczema symptoms. It’s essential to seek support from loved ones, join support groups, or consider therapy to address and manage any feelings of depression that may arise.

Microbial Factors

Bacterial Infections

Eczema-prone skin is more susceptible to bacterial infections, such as Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections. The presence of eczema compromises the skin barrier, allowing bacteria to enter and multiply, leading to increased inflammation and skin irritation. These infections can worsen eczema symptoms and make flare-ups more challenging to manage. If you suspect a bacterial infection, it is crucial to seek medical attention for appropriate treatment with antibiotics to help clear the infection and alleviate eczema symptoms.

Viral Infections

Viral infections, such as cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, can trigger eczema flare-ups in some individuals. The infection can cause skin inflammation and compromise the skin’s barrier, leading to increased itchiness and discomfort. It’s important to be mindful of your overall health and take steps to prevent these viral infections, such as practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding close contact with individuals who have active infections. If a viral infection does occur, seeking treatment promptly can aid in managing eczema symptoms.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections, like ringworm and candidiasis, can also contribute to eczema flare-ups. The warm and moist environment created by eczema-prone skin can be a breeding ground for fungi. These infections can cause intense itching, redness, and even blisters, worsening your eczema symptoms. Antifungal medications and appropriate skincare measures recommended by a healthcare professional can help treat these fungal infections, relieving discomfort and improving eczema management.

Dietary Factors

Certain Foods and Ingredients

While food allergies were discussed earlier, certain foods and ingredients not necessarily linked to allergies can still trigger or exacerbate eczema symptoms in some individuals. Common culprits include processed foods, sugary snacks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats. These foods can promote inflammation in the body and potentially worsen eczema symptoms. Opting for a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can support overall skin health and aid in eczema management.

Dietary Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of essential fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and D, can contribute to the development and severity of eczema. These nutrients play vital roles in maintaining healthy skin function and a strong immune system. If you suspect that your diet may be lacking in certain nutrients, consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can be beneficial. They can provide guidance on optimizing your nutrient intake through dietary changes or supplementation, potentially improving your eczema symptoms.

Medications and Chemicals

Certain Medications

Some medications have the potential to trigger or worsen eczema symptoms in certain individuals. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, and antibiotics like penicillin have been linked to eczema flare-ups in some cases. If you’ve noticed a connection between starting a new medication and an increase in eczema symptoms, it’s important to discuss this with the prescribing healthcare professional. They may be able to find alternative medications or adjust your current treatment plan to mitigate any adverse effects on your eczema.

Chemical Exposures

Exposure to certain chemicals, such as those found in cleaning products, detergents, and skincare products, can also worsen eczema symptoms. Harsh chemicals can irritate the skin and disrupt its natural barrier function, leading to increased inflammation and sensitivity. Opting for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products and using gloves when handling harsh chemicals can help minimize exposure and protect your skin. Reading product labels and choosing gentle alternatives can make a significant difference in managing and preventing eczema flare-ups.

Hormonal Factors

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, particularly during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can influence eczema symptoms. Fluctuations in hormone levels can disrupt the skin’s moisture balance and affect the immune response, potentially triggering or exacerbating eczema flare-ups. It’s important to be extra vigilant with skincare and moisturizing routines during these times to maintain skin hydration and minimize the impact of hormonal changes on your eczema. If hormonal factors significantly affect your eczema, consulting with a dermatologist or healthcare professional can provide further guidance.

Menstrual Cycle

For some women, eczema symptoms can fluctuate with their menstrual cycle. As hormone levels shift throughout the cycle, the skin’s moisture levels and immune response may also be influenced. Some women may experience worsened eczema symptoms in the days leading up to their period, while others may notice improvements during certain phases. Understanding these patterns can help you anticipate and manage potential flare-ups accordingly, ensuring your skincare routine and treatment plan are tailored to your individual needs.

In conclusion, eczema is a complex condition influenced by various factors. From genetic predisposition to environmental triggers, immune system dysfunction to skin barrier abnormalities, allergic reactions to microbial factors, stress and emotional factors to dietary considerations, medications and chemicals to hormonal influences – all can contribute to the development and exacerbation of eczema symptoms. By understanding and addressing these factors, you can take a proactive approach in managing your eczema and improving your quality of life. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and with the right support and care, you can effectively manage your eczema and minimize its impact on your daily life.