Finally, Scientists Discover What Triggers Eczema


If you don’t have eczema, lucky you! However, I’m sure you know someone who has!

Eczema /ˈɛksɪmə,ˈɛkzɪmə/ is defined as “a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding.”

Well, the thing is, if you ask people who had eczema what causes eczema, you’ll hear different answers such as:

  • It’s in the genes. Apparently, even my great grandparents have it, so there’s no way for me to run away.
  • My dad has asthma, hence I’m more susceptible to it.
  • I just can’t wash plate; every time I wash my skin peels.
  • I’m allergic to my own sweat.
  • My baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein, but I’m a low supply mum. So every time I need to supplement my baby with formula milk, he has rashes.
  • I can’t take dairy and peanuts; I’m allergic to them.
  • I’m allergic to berries.
  • I’m still trying to find out what my baby is allergic to as she’s exclusively breastfed. So I’m keeping a food diary now.
  • I’m allergic to fragrance. Any product that uses fragrance causes asthma attacks (airborne product) or skin irritations (applied on).
  • It seems to me, I’m allergic to EVERYTHING. It’s permanently part of me.

A little bit about Eczema

As most of our readers are mainly parents of different walks of life, we try to explain this as layman as possible. Eczema happens when one is exposed to something they’re allergic to, and the list can be anything in the world. The main category of triggers would be:

  • food
  • environmental
  • pollen
  • dust
  • chemicals
  • heat or cold
  • family history

Eczema happens when one is exposed to their individual trigger point, and this can build up over time if constant exposure happens.

Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. There are several types of eczema – atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis.

Eczema is very common. How common?

It affects 75% of newborn infants till the age of 9 months old.
It affects 50% of 9 months infancy till 5 years old.
It affects 30% of children below 12 years old.
It affects 45% of teenagers.
It affects 30% of adults.

What have the scientists discovered?

A research that was done three years back and scientists are still doing further clinical studies on it have shown that filaggrin deficiencies cause a genetic mutation that has been linked to severe eczema.

What’s filaggrin and what does filaggrin deficiencies mean?

To give you a simple idea of what filaggrin is: the outer layer of our skin (which in this context would be called skin barrier) cells are held together like bricks and cement.

These “walls” made of bricks and cement holds together so tightly that it prevents the allergens (trigger factors) to penetrate into skin cells. Filaggrin is vital for skin cells to mature properly, and also acts as your body’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

Right: Normal skin. The orange cells represent the “brick and cement” skin barrier to prevent the allergen from penetrating into the deeper layer of the skin cells.
Left: A filaggrin-deficient skin. The cracked, open “brick and cement” allows penetration of allergens and as an immune response, the skin would turn red, inflamed and itchy.

Scientists have discovered that approximately 10% of people are born with filaggrin deficiencies, and this would result in the “bricks and cement” to crack, allowing allergens to penetrate into the skin cells. As part of our body’s natural immune response to allergens, the skin would turn red and inflamed which leads to eczema or other allergic response.

Now, if you have eczema, when your skin turns red and inflamed, what happens next? A secondary response would be to scratch as it would be really itchy. When this happens, this is where we further break the skin’s “brick and cement” to allow more allergen in (don’t forget our nails carries lots of germs!).

Want to know more?

Do you have filaggrin deficiencies and would like to know more about it? Please comment on our Facebook page that you would like to know more so we could send you relevant articles suitable for you!

You might be interested to know:

  • How to Manage Filaggrin Deficiencies and Strengthen Your Immune System to Respond to Filaggrin Deficiencies
  • Response During Low Filaggrin Period – A Temporary Recovery While Building up the Immune System
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