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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) - Cause

The cause of atopic dermatitis isn't known. But most people who have it have a personal or family history of allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). The skin inflammation that causes the atopic dermatitis rash is considered a type of allergic response.

Itching and rash can be triggered by many things, including:

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Understanding Eczema -- the Basics

  Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin.  Typically, eczema causes skin to become itchy, red, and dry -- even cracked and leathery. Eczema can appear on any part of the body.  Eczema is a chronic problem for many people. It is most common in infants, many of whom outgrow it before adulthood. People with eczema have a higher risk of developing allergic conditions like asthma or hay fever. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...

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  • Allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, molds, or animal dander.
  • Harsh soaps or detergents, rubbing the skin, and wearing wool.
  • Workplace irritants, such as fumes and chemicals.
  • Weather changes, especially dry and cold.
  • Temperature changes, such as a suddenly higher temperature. This may bring on sweating, which can cause itching. Lying under blankets, entering a warm room, or going from a warm shower into colder air can all cause itching.
  • Stress. Emotions such as frustration or embarrassment may lead to more itching and scratching.
  • Certain foods, such as eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, or wheat products, if you are allergic to them. Up to 40% of children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis also have some type of food allergy.1 But experts don't agree on whether foods can cause atopic dermatitis.
  • Excessive washing. Repeated washing dries out the top layer of skin. This can lead to drier skin and more itching, especially in the winter months when humidity is low.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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