What Causes Permanent Eczema?

Have you ever wondered what causes permanent eczema? Eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by inflamed and itchy skin, can be a lifelong struggle for many individuals. In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to the development and persistence of this skin condition. From genetic predisposition to environmental triggers, understanding the underlying causes of permanent eczema can help individuals better manage their symptoms and find relief. So, let’s uncover the truth behind this persistent skin concern and gain valuable insights to improve our skin health.

Genetic Factors

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be influenced by genetic factors. Family history plays a significant role, as eczema tends to run in families. If one or both of your parents have eczema or a related condition like asthma or hay fever, your chances of developing eczema are higher. This suggests that certain genes may predispose individuals to develop this chronic skin condition.

Gene mutations are another genetic factor that can contribute to permanent eczema. Mutations in certain genes, particularly the filaggrin gene, have been associated with an increased risk of eczema. Filaggrin is essential for skin barrier function, and mutations in this gene can compromise the skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect against irritants. This disruption in the skin barrier can lead to dryness, itchiness, and inflammation characteristic of eczema.

Environmental Triggers

Various environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate eczema symptoms in susceptible individuals. Understanding these triggers can help manage and prevent flare-ups effectively.

Allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and certain foods, can provoke an allergic response in individuals with eczema. These allergens can trigger inflammation and intensify the itching and discomfort associated with eczema. Avoiding exposure to known allergens can help minimize the risk of flare-ups and promote better management of the condition.

Irritants, including harsh soaps, detergents, perfumes, and certain fabrics, can also aggravate eczema symptoms. These substances may strip the skin of its natural oils, disrupt the skin barrier, and increase sensitivity, leading to heightened irritation and inflammation. Choosing hypoallergenic products and avoiding contact with known irritants can help reduce the impact of environmental triggers on eczema.

Climate is another environmental factor that can influence eczema symptoms. Dry and cold weather conditions can deplete moisture from the skin, making it more prone to dryness and itchiness. Conversely, hot and humid environments can increase perspiration, leading to sweat becoming trapped on the skin’s surface and potentially triggering flare-ups. Maintaining a balanced and mild climate indoors and protecting the skin from extreme weather conditions can help manage eczema symptoms.

Microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, can also play a role in eczema. Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria commonly found on the skin, can colonize eczema-affected areas and contribute to skin inflammation and infection. Additionally, certain fungi, such as Malassezia, have been linked to eczema flare-ups. Proper hygiene practices, regular moisturizing, and avoiding close contact with potential sources of infection can help minimize the impact of microbes on eczema.

Immune System Dysfunction

Eczema is considered an immune system-related disorder, and dysfunction in the immune response can contribute to the development and persistence of the condition.

An overactive immune response plays a significant role in eczema. In individuals with eczema, the immune system can overreact to various triggers, leading to excessive inflammation and skin damage. This heightened immune response can result in the typical symptoms of eczema, including redness, itching, and dryness. Identifying and managing triggers specific to your immune system can be vital in preventing and controlling flare-ups.

On the other hand, immunodeficiency, a condition characterized by a weakened immune system, can also contribute to developing eczema. When the immune system fails to function optimally, it may have difficulty combating environmental triggers, such as allergens and microorganisms. This compromised immune response can leave the skin more vulnerable to damage and inflammation, potentially leading to the development or worsening of eczema symptoms. Managing any underlying immunodeficiency conditions in consultation with a healthcare professional is crucial for individuals with eczema.

Skin Barrier Dysfunction

The skin serves as a protective barrier, preventing moisture loss and shielding the body from irritants and allergens. Dysfunction in the skin barrier can play a significant role in the development and persistence of eczema.

Filaggrin mutations are found in a significant proportion of individuals with eczema, particularly those with moderate to severe cases. Filaggrin is a protein crucial for maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier. Genetic mutations in the filaggrin gene can compromise the skin’s ability to retain moisture, leaving it prone to dryness, itchiness, and inflammation. Identifying filaggrin mutations through genetic testing can help individuals with eczema understand their specific genetic predisposition and develop targeted management strategies for their condition.

In addition to genetic factors, dry skin itself can contribute to eczema. When the skin lacks sufficient moisture, it becomes more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. Dry skin not only exacerbates the itchiness and discomfort associated with eczema but can also disrupt the skin barrier, leading to further moisture loss and increased vulnerability to environmental triggers. Regular and appropriate skin moisturization is essential in managing and preventing eczema.

A history of injury or trauma to the skin can also contribute to the development of eczema in certain individuals. Burns, cuts, and other skin injuries can disrupt the skin barrier and activate the immune response, leading to prolonged inflammation and potentially triggering eczema. Proper wound care and protection of injured skin are crucial to minimize the risk of eczema development in these cases.

Hormonal Factors

Hormonal changes throughout a person’s life can affect their susceptibility to eczema. Certain stages, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can influence eczema symptoms.

During puberty, hormonal fluctuations can trigger or worsen eczema in some individuals. Increased levels of hormones like estrogen and testosterone can affect the skin’s oil production, leading to changes in skin texture and sensitivity. This can contribute to the development or aggravation of eczema symptoms during this transitional phase. Proper skincare and management strategies tailored to the specific needs of pubertal individuals can help mitigate eczema flare-ups.

Pregnancy is another hormonal milestone that can affect eczema. Some pregnant women may experience an improvement in their eczema symptoms during pregnancy, likely due to changes in hormone levels and immune function. However, others may find that their eczema worsens or becomes more challenging to manage. Hormonal fluctuations, increased stress levels, and changes in the body’s water retention can all contribute to eczema flare-ups during pregnancy. Consulting with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized care plan is essential for pregnant individuals with eczema.

Menopause, the phase marking the end of a woman’s reproductive years, can also impact eczema symptomatology. The decline in estrogen levels during menopause can lead to dry skin and reduced collagen production, making the skin more prone to itching and irritation. Additionally, hormonal imbalances during menopause can contribute to increased stress levels, which can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms. Adequate skincare, moisturization, and stress management techniques are crucial for women experiencing menopause-related eczema.

Stress and Emotional Factors

Stress and emotional factors can significantly influence the occurrence and severity of eczema flare-ups. The mind-body connection plays a crucial role in eczema management, highlighting the importance of addressing psychological wellbeing alongside physical symptoms.

Psychological stress can trigger or aggravate eczema symptoms. Stress acts as a trigger for the immune system, leading to increased inflammation and a higher likelihood of experiencing a flare-up. Additionally, stress can disrupt sleep patterns, weaken the skin’s natural defenses, and affect overall immune function, exacerbating eczema symptoms further. Implementing stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals, can help reduce the impact of stress on eczema.

Anxiety is another emotional factor that can affect eczema. Excessive worry, fear, and anxiety can contribute to heightened sensitivity and itching in individuals with eczema. Anxiety-induced scratching can damage the skin barrier, leading to increased inflammation and the potential for infection. Managing anxiety through therapy, counseling, and relaxation techniques can be beneficial in alleviating anxiety-related eczema symptoms.

Depression, often associated with chronic conditions, can also impact individuals with eczema. The emotional burden of managing a long-term skin condition can lead to feelings of low mood, reduced motivation, and decreased self-care. Depressed individuals may be less likely to adhere to skincare routines, leading to worsening eczema symptoms. Addressing and seeking treatment for depression, such as therapy or medication if necessary, can help improve overall well-being and optimize eczema management.

Food Allergies

Food allergies, particularly in young children, have been linked to the development and aggravation of eczema symptoms. Understanding common allergenic foods and recognizing delayed food allergies can aid in eczema management for affected individuals.

Common allergenic foods, such as cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, fish, and wheat, have been associated with eczema flare-ups. These foods can trigger an immune response in susceptible individuals, leading to inflammation and exacerbation of eczema symptoms. Identifying and avoiding these trigger foods, under the guidance of a healthcare professional, can contribute to improved eczema control.

Delayed food allergies, also known as food sensitivities or intolerances, can also impact eczema symptoms. Unlike immediate allergic reactions, delayed food allergies involve a delayed immune response to specific foods. This delayed response can make it more challenging to identify the triggers, as symptoms may occur several hours or even days after consuming the offending food. Keeping a food diary and working with a healthcare professional can help identify potential delayed food allergies and their impact on eczema.

Medications and Chemicals

Certain medications and chemicals can affect eczema symptoms by directly irritating the skin or inducing an immune response. Awareness of topical and systemic medications, as well as chemical irritants, is important for individuals with eczema.

Topical medications, such as corticosteroids, are commonly used to manage eczema symptoms. While these medications can help reduce inflammation and itching, they can also cause skin irritation in some individuals. Proper application and adherence to recommended dosage and duration guidelines are crucial to minimize the risk of corticosteroid-induced skin irritation.

Systemic medications, like antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may also impact eczema symptoms. Some antibiotics can disrupt the delicate balance of the skin microbiome, potentially triggering or aggravating eczema. NSAIDs, on the other hand, can worsen eczema symptoms in individuals who are sensitive to these medications. Discussing medication options and potential side effects with a healthcare professional is essential for individuals with eczema.

Chemical irritants, such as certain cleaning products, fragrances, and cosmetics, can also worsen eczema symptoms. Harsh chemicals can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin barrier, leading to increased dryness, redness, and itching. Opting for gentle and fragrance-free products, as well as avoiding direct contact with known irritants, can help reduce skin irritation and maintain eczema control.


Infections, both bacterial and viral, can contribute to the development and exacerbation of eczema symptoms. Understanding the association between infections and eczema can aid in effective management.

Bacterial infections, particularly those involving Staphylococcus aureus, are commonly found in eczema-affected skin. This type of bacteria can colonize eczema-affected areas, leading to increased inflammation, itching, and vulnerability to further skin damage. It is essential to maintain proper hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing and appropriate wound care, to minimize the risk of bacterial infection in individuals with eczema.

Viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), can also influence eczema symptoms. In some cases, eczema flare-ups may occur after a viral infection, particularly in individuals with a predisposition to eczema. Managing viral infections promptly and discussing symptom management strategies with healthcare professionals are crucial to minimize the impact of viral infections on eczema.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders involve the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissues within the body. Certain autoimmune conditions have been found to be associated with an increased risk of developing eczema.

Individuals with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus may have a higher likelihood of also experiencing eczema. The underlying immune dysregulation characteristic of autoimmune disorders can contribute to inflammation and skin barrier dysfunction, making these individuals more susceptible to eczema development. Close collaboration between healthcare professionals specializing in the respective autoimmune condition and eczema management can help optimize treatment strategies for these individuals.

Understanding the various factors that contribute to permanent eczema is crucial for effectively managing this chronic condition. By identifying genetic factors, recognizing environmental triggers, addressing immune system dysfunction, managing skin barrier dysfunction, considering hormonal factors, addressing stress and emotional factors, recognizing the role of food allergies, being aware of medications and chemicals, understanding the impact of infections, and acknowledging the association with autoimmune disorders, individuals with eczema can develop personalized strategies to minimize flare-ups, alleviate symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life. Consulting with healthcare professionals is always recommended for comprehensive eczema management and guidance tailored to individual needs.