Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis Causes & Family History

Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin).

Causes
While the cause of atopic dermatitis is not fully understood, researchers believe a complex interaction of several factors . . . the genes we inherit, where we live, a breakdown of the outermost layer of skin, and a malfunctioning immune system leads to atopic dermatitis.

Risk Factors
The following appear to increase one’s risk for atopic dermatitis:

● Family history. A family history of atopic (tendency for excess inflammation in the skin, linings of the nose, and lungs) conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever. This remains the strongest risk factor. If one or both parents have a history of atopic dermatitis or an allergic condition, the child is much more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.

● Where person lives. Living in a developed country, urban area (especially one with higher levels of pollution), or northerly part of the world seems to increase the risk. For example, Jamaican children living in London are twice as likely to develop atopic dermatitis as are Jamaican children living in Jamaica.

● Age. Appears before 1 year of age in 65% of people; 90% develop before reaching 5 years of age.

● Gender. Females are slightly more likely than males to develop.

● Mother’s age at time child born. Atopic dermatitis tends to be more common when the mother gives birth to a child later in her childbearing years.

● Year born. During the last 40 years, a steadily increasing number of people worldwide, mostly children, have developed atopic dermatitis. In the United States alone, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children born after 1980 has increased by 15% to 20%. This equals a 3 to 4 fold increase over the 5% prevalence rate reported during the 1950s in school-age children.

● Social class. Atopic dermatitis tends to be more common in higher social classes.

● Family size. Atopic dermatitis tends to be more common in immediate families that are smaller in size.

Sourced From: American Academy of Dermatology