What causes Eczema

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Diablod666 | 20:34 Sat 27th Nov 2004 | Body & Soul
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what causes the skin disease eczema? is it some sort of virus, an abnormality in the skin cells, or other?


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it can be caused in chidhood due to being breastfed



I'm not sure if breast feeding has anything to di with it, but I do know that it's genetic. I found out this small, often left out, piece of information when I was researching for a short story I was writing, about a girl who found out she was adopted because she had eczema and it wasn't part of her family history. Although, that's not a complete answer. I knew a girl in college that had severe conditions if she drank too much milk. It's quite common for most peope to get it at one stage in their life (1 in 12 or so), but it seems due to circumstance. Detergents, soaps, deodorants etc. can bring on symptoms.  I have no medical experience whatsoever, only old research to go on, but my guess is it's a type of allergy. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because surely it'd be more commmon knowledge if it was, but no-one seems to know what causes it. I'm only using knowledge based on fact.

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cool thanks, from both your answers i think its probably something genetic as to whether it can affect you, and is brought on by milk/allergic reactions to things such as detergents. thanks you two! ;o)

Hi, just to elaborate, this is a genetic thing, linked to our past as a species. The human immune system has developed IgE cells which bind on to mast cells in the lungs, skin, intestines, pretty much anywhere.

They were (and still are in many 3rd world countries) used to defend against parasites. For instance, the trichinella worm bites hold of our insestines and then proceeds to feed on our intestine wall. The body secretes IgE cells which find a binding point on the parasite. They then whizz back to the lymph nodes (glands that swell when you're sick) that make lots of cells that can bind to it.

When your body fights off the worm using its other defenses, the new IgE cells float along and bind to mast cells in the intestine wall. The next time the body is infected by trichinella the IgE cells bind to it, causing the mast cells to secrete fluid in huge amounts which wash the worm away but also cause the surrounding tissue to become inflamed.

In developed countries where these parasites are extremely rare, the IgE cells get bored. When something completely harmless gets into the body, the IgE cells bind to it, thinking it may be a parasite. This causes an unnecessary immune response, leading to inflamation of the tissue. Where the tissue is in the body dictates what the effect will be. In the skin, we get eczema; in the lungs/respiratory tract, we get athsma; etc. 

All allergies are caused by this, but as we know, not all people suffer from allergies. This tells us that it must be a genetic thing. The irony is that long ago, people that suffer from allergies, therefore producing lots of IgE cells, would be the people who would suffer from less illness and survive in greater numbers (hence lots of people have allergies of some form). Todays hygine levels have caused this to go haywire and become overactive.Hope this answers your question and isn't too complicated!!

I agree with eiffion!

I am an "allergic" person. I was born with asthma and eczema and now I have ulcerative colitis. All these are caused by an over-active immune system. My body thinks there is something worth attacking when there isn't. It inflames itself unnecessarily. My Mum and Grandma also had eczema and asthma, so I imagine it is genetic.

a baby who is breastfed is less likely to suffer from eczema in childhood and later in life due to the antibodies in the mothers milk, i have eczema and was advised to breastfeed my daughter to pass on antibodies so she would be less likely to get it.

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