What Is Eczema, And What Causes It?

Dr. David Hauswirth answers the question: 'What Is Eczema, And What Causes It?'

ByABC News
March 25, 2008, 5:23 PM

— -- Question: What is eczema, and what causes it?

Answer: Eczema is a common skin disease.

Eczema is dry, rough, red, itchy skin. The most common symptom that patients complain about is the itch that is associated with eczema. It's often referred to as the 'itch that rashes' meaning that once you start scratching, you develop a rash.

Eczema is often interchangeably a term that is used with atopic dermatitis. And many patients and physician talk about atopic dermatitis and eczema as the same thing.

Eczema is caused by a variety of factors. Certainly genetic factors and people from allergic families will have more problems with eczema.

Other things that cause eczema can be contact with the skin. One form of eczema is contact dermatitis. This is where a substance will come into contact with your skin and cause a reaction.

Other factors that can cause eczema include allergies, such as food allergies, pollen or dust allergies. And finally, there's some evidence that bacteria on your skin may cause eczema.

A byproduct or a chemical produced by the bacteria can lead to a reaction in your skin that results in eczema.

Next: What Does Atopic Dermatitis Have To Do With Asthma And Allergies?

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