Eczema During Allergy Season - What’s the Connection?
Does your child have eczema (atopic dermatitis), a red, itchy rash? Do you or your spouse have seasonal allergies or asthma? Did you have eczema as a child and now suffer from seasonal allergies? If yes, this is no coincidence. You are not imagining your eczema (atopic dermatitis) getting worse during allergy season.
Studies show that if one or both parents have eczema, asthma, or seasonal allergies, their child is more likely to develop eczema (atopic dermatitis). Also, children with eczema may be more likely to develop allergies or asthma. In fact, one study found that 35% of adults that had eczema as a child, now have seasonal allergies or asthma as adults.
Many individuals who have eczema come from families with a history of similar skin issues or respiratory problems. People with respiratory allergies also tend to have eczema, especially during allergy season. If someone is allergic to pollen, they might itch a lot when pollen counts are high during allergy season. If a person is allergic to animal dander and dust mites, this can also have the same effect causing itchy eyes, a runny nose and itchy skin.
Researchers have found that some people with eczema have a genetic defect that causes a lack of filaggrin in the skin. Filaggrin is a type of protein that helps form the protective outer layer of the skin. This skin barrier protects the body from germs and other foreign substances. A lack of filaggrin dries out and weakens the skin barrier. This makes skin vulnerable to irritants such as soaps and detergents. A weak skin barrier also makes it easier for allergens, such as pollen, to enter the body. Scientists believe that this exposure may cause the sensitivity to allergens and even certain foods.
Whether you or your child has this itchy skin rash, understanding the allergy-eczema connection can help you manage the disease. Here's what you need to know about the link between allergies and eczema. An allergic reaction occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to substances that are usually not harmful. These include allergens such as:
When exposed to an allergen, the body attacks and releases histamines. These chemicals cause an allergic reaction in the form of hives, itching, swelling, sneezing, and runny nose. Children with eczema are also more likely to have food allergies, such as to gluten, eggs, nuts, or milk. Food allergies often make eczema symptoms worse in children.
Most types of eczema are not allergies but many people with eczema have flares when they are exposed to allergens.
Because the causes of eczema (atopic dermatitis) are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, a doctor may prescribe various treatments. A change of diet might be the first treatment. For a baby, a switch from regular formula to soybean milk or goat's milk might help. Always consult your child’s doctor before switching formulas. For a child, eliminating gluten, eggs, nuts or milk might help the itchy skin.
There is a lot of conflicting information on bathing and eczema but most doctors recommend a lukewarm bath daily to hydrate the skin and rinse off the allergens especially during spring and summer months when children are playing outside. It is very important to keep the skin lubricated with creams or emollients and the faster you apply after a bath the better results. Wet wrap therapy does wonders for stubborn dry, cracked eczema (atopic dermatitis). Wet wrap therapy has been advocated by doctors for 20 years as a safe and effective treatment for eczema. Wet wrap therapy immediately calms the itch, repairs the skin barrier and provides more restful sleep.
There are a number of topical medications that can help, depending upon the type of eczema, the age of the patient and the part of the body affected. In rare cases when the problem is severe, a patient may be hospitalized for a supervised treatment such as a 5 day wet wrap therapy treatment. If managed at home, with wet wrap therapy, this inconvenience and huge expense can be prevented.
If you think you might have some type of eczema (atopic dermatitis), consult your family physician, allergist or dermatologist. Ask them about wet wrap therapy for eczema and other treatment options.
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Blooming Wildflowers courtesy of franky242/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Child Blowing Her Nose courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.