There are many different forms of eczema, also called excema, and this means that there also many different eczema causes. Some people only classify the eczema causes into 2 groups, externally triggered and internally triggered.
To help you better understand the nature of your eczema, this article will explain subgroups of externally and internally triggered eczema.
It is important for you to understand specifically what causes eczema in order to seek the right type of treatment.
First, you should understand the difference between the external and internal causes of eczema. Externally is typically when you come into direct contact with a substance that caused a reaction.
If the substance has touched your skin and caused a reaction, then the outbreak will typically only be on the surface of the skin that actually contacted the trigger. While it is easy to come into contact with an external trigger, it is also easier to identify and control these triggers.
Internal triggers cause an extreme reaction by your immune system and the skin begins to react internally, at the cellular level. These reactions are typically from a combination of internal triggers, such as an allergen and a hormone imbalance occurring at the same time.
They also appear all over the body at areas of weakened skin. These can be mild or severe reactions, depending on your skin’s genetic makeup.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some triggers can be both internal and external. For example, some people break out in a rash at the point of contact if they merely touch a peanut.
When they consume a peanut product they will have a further extreme reaction within their body that causes an acute immune response resulting in a rash throughout their skin.
On the other hand, there may be people who can touch a peanut without a contact reaction but if they eat a peanut their immune system will trigger a severe eczema reason. This type of reaction primarily occurs with food allergens but can happen with any other cause of eczema.
While allergens can externally trigger eczema at the point of contact, they are most likely to cause an internal immune response which manifests all over your body.
Ragweed, pet hair and dander, pollens, molds, and dust mites are just a few of the thousands of potential allergens that occur in nature. There are also non-natural allergens but these will be addressed within the Environment and Chemicals section of this article.
When an allergen triggers an internal reaction it has actually caused your immune system to overreact. This often occurs in young children and then later in life after they are full grown.
Allergens are most closely linked to atopic dermatitis and are believed to combine with other triggers, such as stress, to bring about a reaction.
A key to knowing if an allergen is the cause of eczema is to note any related hay fever or asthma. It is very common for these to occur at the same time as the symptoms of your allergies escalate as you get older.
For example, you may have discovered that you are allergic to dust mites when you began having occurrences of hay fever some time ago.
If you have begun to show the red inflammation and itchiness of allergen related eczema, it is highly likely that these outbreaks happen at the same time as your hay fever.
If this is true, then it is highly likely the same allergen causing your hay fever is causing your eczema.
There are two main types of food-related triggers. The first is an actual immune or allergic reaction to a type of food. Foods like strawberries, nuts, and dairy products are well known to be an eczema cause along with a host of other allergic reactions.
Shellfish can also cause severe allergic reactions including acute eczema. As stated earlier, these types of foods can cause eczema both internally and externally.
Additives in foods, especially processed foods, can trigger an eczema reaction as well. Many foods include dyes, preservatives, and other chemicals that are believed to enhance the food’s shelf life, aesthetic appeal, or flavor. Unfortunately, many people have bad reactions to these additives.
As an example, the red dyes used to deepen the shade of tomato products are believed to cause eczema reactions, especially in children, along with other allergic reactions like hyperactivity, hives, and asthma.
Many people choose to detoxify their bodies by choosing only natural, additive free products. In fact, some natural grains are believed to be biogenic in nature and actually help strengthen the skin cells and promote new growth in order to prevent eczema.
Children are especially sensitive to food allergens and typically have a reaction soon after consuming these kinds of food allergens. In fact, if they have a reaction as a child they are more likely to have severe reactions to that food along with more food allergies later in life.
Doctors believe this is because they have undeveloped immune systems that are prone to overreact to food allergens. As they grow, the immune system will “learn” to always react to this food.
This is why you should introduce foods slowly to children so that you can track their reaction to each food individually. If your child already has a complex diet and you suspect a food allergy, try avoiding individual foods for several weeks and track your child’s eczema to see if it improves without that food.
It may be hard to believe, but food preparation may also cause an internal reaction resulting in eczema. Fresh food is believed to have the least potential as a trigger and older, over processed.
Ph balance is believed to play a role in internally caused eczema and you should avoid foods such as red meats and white flour that increase your body’s acid toxicity.
Furthermore, you should always prepare your food in a way that lowers the Ph levels of the food such as using fresh herbs to add flavor versus acidic, pre-packaged spices.
Environment And Chemicals
In today’s world of natural remedies and organics, it is still amazing how many chemicals and environmental irritants we are exposed to daily. They can cause both externally and internally triggered eczema.
Chemicals in perfumes, laundry detergents, bleach, fabric softeners, over-the-counter medicines, household cleaners, lotions, and makeup are just a few of the potential irritants you are exposed to regularly.
Even the water you drink may have irritant chemicals in it. There are also chemicals in man-made products like bedding and clothing. Simply touching these products for an extended period of time, such as sleeping at night, can cause a very severe flare up.
Your environment is just as full of irritants but it is much harder to control. Many people feel their eyes water and begin to cough around smoke, but there are plenty of people who break out in a rash when they are exposed to smoke.
Likewise, countless people in polluted cities suffer from eczema induced by the smog in the air. You can buy air filters to control these irritants, but it can be difficult to completely avoid them all of the time.
It may surprise you to learn that the things you do can give you eczema. Most of these causes of eczema are external in nature and will only appear at the source of the irritant.
The first such example is exercise. Exercise heats up your body and causes you to sweat. However, it is the combination of heat and sweat that can break out into a red rash.
You will tend to see this type of eczema in the areas of your body that are hottest and sweatiest during your workout.
Another form of a bodily irritant is yeast and other germ based eczema. This is especially bad in diaper-aged children and persons with poor hygiene. When a child soils their diaper, the germs in the diaper are combined with the heat and sweat from their body.
This is a perfect situation for an infection to grow and cause an outbreak of eczema. Typically, these will stay near the area of the germs, but will gradually begin to spread outward. In this case, you will have to practice extra good hygiene in addition to consulting the doctor for a topical treatment.
Exposure to both hot and cold can cause an eczema reaction. The elderly are often plagued by cold related eczema. The skin begins to dry out, becomes inflamed, and starts itching. Elderly people traditionally have thinner skin so they are much more susceptible to cold weather.
Heat triggered eczema is closely related to sweat triggered eczema. A “heat rash” is a form of eczema that will typically occur at a spot on the skin that has been exposed to higher than normal temperatures accompanied by sweat.
Red, itchy bumps will begin to spread from the source of the heat and sweat. Around the neck and the knees are especially prone to this type of outbreak.
Endocrinology is the study of your body’s hormones and hormone producing organs, like your thyroid and pituitary glands. Many scientists believe that internally caused eczema is the result of a combination of an allergen/irritant, weakened skin, and a hormone imbalance.
This is especially true of atopic dermatitis. If you suffer from a hormone imbalance, you are extremely likely to have an eczema reaction as soon as you are exposed to an allergen or irritant.
Also, stress can throw your hormones off balance and cause you to have a reaction as well. If your eczema is caused by an endocrine issue, you will need to seek professional advice with regard to control and treatment.
There are even more obscure eczema causes, such as those resulting from a mental issue. Stress, anxiety, and nervousness have a profound affect on your body.
It is normal for people to have reactions during periods of stress. However, you may develop a “nervous tick” related to these issues that triggers your eczema.
This typically happens when nervously scratch or rub at one place. It can also happen around your mouth if you often lick your lips. This concentrated irritation to one part of your skin can easily cause an eczema reaction.
Your Next Steps
Understanding what causes eczema is the key to treating it. For each type of cause, there are different methods of treatment. There are excellent treatment options available out there, both medical and natural.
Now that you understand what causes your condition, it is time for you to learn about your treatment options.
Eczema Free is an ebook that can help you take the next step to understanding treatments. Written by a skin care and natural healing expert, it discusses both the standard medical and complimentary natural treatment options for each type of eczema.
It also recommends long-term methods to control and possibly prevent eczema. Additionally, the author thoroughly explains the different types of eczema and the treatment options recommended for each type.
Overall, it is an excellent book to help you gain a more thorough knowledge of your eczema.
Eczema unfairly hurts you and your quality of life. However, now that you understand more about what causes your condition you are in a better position to control it. If you continue on this path to knowledge then you are giving yourself the tools to become eczema free.