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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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How Is Eczema Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose eczema, your doctor will first talk to you about your symptoms and medical history.  He or she will also ask about your family's history of rashes and other allergy-related medical conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.  While there is no single test to diagnose eczema, a good medical history and an exam of your skin are usually all that is needed.

Read the How Is Eczema Diagnosed and Treated? article > >

  • 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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