If you suffer from eczema, there’s a high chance that your parents or children also have eczema.
Perhaps at some point, you’ve wondered if eczema is hereditary. While eczema does tend to run in families, in this post, we’ll explore the different causes of eczema — including the genetic factors that influence its development.
Please keep in mind that although these tips and information have worked for several sufferers, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms or have a topical infection, it is always best to seek medical advice immediately.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is an auto-immune disease that affects nearly 10-20% of the population. Linked to a damaged skin barrier that has trouble retaining moisture, those with eczema suffer from chronically dry and itchy skin.
Patches of inflamed skin can appear at any age but most commonly develop in childhood. Symptoms include extremely dry skin, intense itchiness, and red rashes that may burn. In severe cases, skin can even crack or bleed, making you more vulnerable to infection.
Eczema commonly appears on the face, hands, feet, scalp, and on the back-of-knees, but can occur in other places as well.
What Causes Eczema?
Sadly, there is no golden answer to this question but one thing is certain: eczema is not contagious.
Research suggests, however, that it develops as a result of environmental and genetic factors. Knowing what triggers your eczema is one of the most important steps towards controlling your flare-ups. Here are some of the most common environmental factors that can contribute to flare-ups:
- Allergens: Pet fur, dust mites, mold, pollen, and certain fabrics such as wool or latex, are common triggers.
- Irritants: Chemicals found in soaps, detergents, perfumes, and shampoos can trigger eczema, as well as any skin care products that contain fragrance or alcohol.
- Hot and cold temperatures: Extreme weather temperatures, high and low humidity, and even sweating from exercise can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
- Stress: The relationship between stress and eczema is a vicious cycle.
- Foods: Diet is closely related to flare-ups. Certain foods, such as eggs, dairy products, and nuts, are common culprits to triggering eczema. To discover your food triggers, consider trying an eczema elimination diet.
Is Eczema Genetic or Hereditary?
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand that there are many different forms of eczema with different factors that affect its development.
The most common type of eczema, however, is called atopic dermatitis and this does appear to have a genetic basis. That explains why children are more likely to develop eczema if their parents have eczema. If both parents have eczema, the risk of the child getting eczema is even higher.
Those with atopic eczema have extra sensitive skin which reacts badly to typically harmless factors such as clothing or sweat.
When exposed to these factors, their skin breaks out in rashes, similar to an allergic reaction. Many people who suffer from atopic eczema often suffer from asthma or hay fever as well, which can also be known as the “atopic march.“ It also explains why children with parents or other relatives who have asthma and hay fever are more likely to suffer from eczema and these allergies as well.