A combination of genetic and environmental factors appears to be involved in the development of eczema. The condition often is associated with other allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and food allergy. Children whose parents have asthma and allergies are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than children of parents without allergic diseases. Approximately 30 percent of children with atopic dermatitis have food allergies, and many develop asthma or respiratory allergies. People who live in cities or drier climates also appear more likely to develop the disease.
The condition tends to worsen when a person is exposed to certain triggers, such as
- Pollen, mold, dust mites, animals, and certain foods (for allergic individuals)
- Cold and dry air
- Colds or the flu
- Skin contact with irritating chemicals
- Skin contact with rough materials such as wool
- Emotional factors such as stress
- Fragrances or dyes added to skin lotions or soaps.
Taking too many baths or showers and not moisturizing the skin properly afterward may also make eczema worse.