Risk Factors for Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
En Español (Spanish Version)

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop eczema with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing eczema. If you have a number of risk factors for eczema, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

Genetic Factors
There is a strong genetic component to eczema, although the specific details of how eczema is inherited remain incompletely understood. Parents who suffer from allergic disorders, including eczema, asthma, and hay fever have a higher risk of having children with eczema.

Environment
Eczema may be triggered or worsened by environmental factors such as:

  • Skin irritants, including wool or synthetic clothing, soaps or detergents, cosmetics or perfumes, dust/sand, chemical solvents, chlorine
  • Extremes in temperate or climate (cold or hot temperatures or dry air or extremely humid air)
  • Lack of moisturizing after bathing
Medical Conditions
People who are prone to allergies have a greater risk of developing eczema than those who do not have allergies. Some allergens that may be associated with eczema include:

  • Plant pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Household dust mites
  • Molds
  • Certain foods
Age
Eczema can occur at any age, but the risk is greatest for infants and children. It is estimated that of people who eventually develop eczema, 65% of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life, and 90% develop symptoms before age 5. The condition often improves in adulthood, but 50% of those affected in childhood are affected throughout life.




References:
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2001.

National Eczema Association website. Available at: http://www.nationaleczema.org.

Last Reviewed November 2013



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