What Risk Factors Trigger or Exacerbate Eczema

What Risk Factors Trigger or Exacerbate Eczema?

• Family and genetics. Atopic eczema is linked to FLG gene mutations. FLG genes encode filament aggregate protein, an important matrix protein in keratinocytes. FLG gene mutations alter the structure of the keratinocyte layer and weaken its antibacterial function. Hence an eczema patient's skin lacks this antibacterial function and becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections, such as infections by Staphylococcus aureus and yeast. Bacterial infection triggers the immune response to recruit leukocytes, lymphocytes, and macrophages, all of which release inflammatory cytokines into the infected skin, causing skin inflammation and eczema.

• Environmental factors. Environmental factors can trigger and exacerbate eczema. These include clothes made of wool and synthetic fibers, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, perfumes, dust, chemical solvents, high or low temperatures, and high or low levels of humidity.

• Allergies. Patients with allergies have a higher risk of eczema. Allergens that augment the risk of eczema include pollens, animal dander, dust mites, cigarette smoke, and molds.

• Age. Eczema affects any age group, although infants and children are among the highest risk group. About 65% of eczema patients have suffered from eczema since age one, and about 90% of eczema patients have been afflicted with eczema since age five. Symptoms of eczema often disappear with age; however, about 50% of eczema patients suffer from eczema their entire lives.