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What causes eczema in adults?

Many children grow out of eczema, but it is a condition that can continue or even sometimes start in adulthood.
In a nutshell, it is a weakening of the skin barrier, making it more susceptible to various triggers that create dry and inflamed patches and that can happen at any age.
There are different types of eczema, though the most common is atopic dermatitis. It is dry, itchy, and inflamed skin that becomes worse if you scratch it. It affects one in every five children in the UK, and one in every twelve adults.
Eczema is not contagious, although it does appear to have a genetic link, as it is believed that there is an increased likelihood of a child having eczema if one or both parents had it.
Around 40-60% of children who have atopic dermatitis carry the condition with them into adulthood. They can go for long periods of time in remission, and then suffer a flare.

So what causes eczema in adults?

The exact causes of what is sometimes referred to as adult-onset eczema or late-onset eczema are still being researched. The figures for first diagnosis of eczema in people aged over 18 suggest that it is uncommon, but that it could be influenced by the fact it often goes unrecognised in adults.

The National Eczema Association states that adults often experience "hand eczema,” due to the chemicals, moisture and temperature factors that hands are particularly exposed to. This can cause the skin to get badly inflamed and cracked, leading to pain and infections. Adult onset eczema could still be a genetic factor, which has been dormant, or it could be caused solely by environmental and immunity issues. Extremes in temperature, perfumed or harsh soaps, perfumes and skin care products, and certain fabrics can all suck the moisture out of your skin causing eczema to flare up.

Even certain types of food have been linked to triggering this uncomfortable skin condition.It’s also important not to let your skin stay wet for long periods of time, as this too can impair the skin barrier that regulates the moisture level. Eczema is believed to also be linked to the immune system. Rising levels of this skin condition – along with increasing levels of asthma in both children and adults – have been attributed to exposure to modern day allergens (such as house dust mites, pet fur, pollen and moulds). 

Help for adult eczema

Your doctor can discuss with you the potential triggers for your adult eczema, and the best course of treatment. It is highly likely to include various forms of emollients (moisturisers) and topical (applied directly onto the skin) corticosteroids. You can find hypoallergenic and highly effective moisturisers approved by our MedTeam here - finding a suitable moisturiser can also help you avoid using steroids for a long time or even enhance their effectiveness.

Whether you carried eczema with you from childhood or started experiencing chronically inflamed skin post-18, keeping your skin moisturised is vital. Contact us at HelloSkin for emollients, accessories and nutrition supplements to help relieve your symptoms.


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