What causes a person to get eczema on his or her body?
Q: What causes a person to get eczema on his or her body? How can the terrible itch be helped? Are they working on a cure for this awful stuff?
A: Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema and has a genetic basis. Recently discovered genetic defects in the skin barrier seem to account for many, if not most, cases. The defective barrier allows chemical and physical irritants and bacterial toxins to trigger inflammation that causes redness and itching. Protein allergens (for example, foods and pollens) also traverse the barrier and generate the immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies that can cause asthma, hay fever and hives. Chemical allergens (for example, nickel and black dye) get through more easily too and cause allergic contact dermatitis. A number of researchers are working to improve the barrier and prevent “this awful stuff.”