Holistic Skin Wellness

Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis: Why does it Happen?

Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, is a complex skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Despite extensive research, there is no single known cause for atopic dermatitis, and it is likely a combination of several conditions.


There are various proposed theories and factors that contribute to the development and severity of eczema, focusing on the roles of the immune system, genetic mutations, skin cell defects, and the skin microbiome.


In this blog, we learn about the underlying mechanisms and contributing factors of atopic dermatitis.


Genetic Factors and Skin Barrier Defects

Emerging evidence suggests that inflammation in atopic dermatitis is associated with immune-mediated and inherited abnormalities in the skin barrier. The primary inherited abnormality involves the expression of filaggrin, a protein that binds to keratin fibers in the skin. Mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) can lead to a compromised skin barrier, increased permeability, and reduced antimicrobial function.


Role of the Microbiome

The skin microbiome, consisting of bacteria, viruses, and yeasts, plays a significant role in atopic dermatitis. Eczema flares are often accompanied by an overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus and a reduction in the diversity of the skin microbiome, a condition known as dysbiosis.


Environmental Factors and Irritants

Several environmental factors can exacerbate atopic dermatitis by causing the skin to become drier and more irritated:

  • Winter Weather and Low Humidity: Reduce skin moisture.
  • Frequent Washing and Hot Water: Strips the skin of natural oils.
  • Harsh Soaps and Detergents: Increase skin pH and cause irritation.
  • Chlorine in Swimming Pools: Dries out the skin further.



Allergens and Infections

Both food and environmental allergens can play a role in atopic dermatitis, although their effects can vary. For example, food allergies, particularly to eggs, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, and fish, can aggravate eczema. Environmental allergens such as grass, dust mites, and pet dander can also trigger symptoms. Additionally, individuals with atopic dermatitis are more prone to skin infections caused by bacteria (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus), viruses (e.g., herpes simplex), and fungi (e.g., Malassezia).



Stress and Climate

Physical, mental, and social stress can worsen eczema, as can climatic factors. Cold, damp climates may make eczema more resistant to treatment, while increased exposure to sunlight in summer can have beneficial effects for some people. However, sunburn and extreme heat can exacerbate symptoms.


Managing Atopic Dermatitis

Effective management of atopic dermatitis involves a combination of strategies to strengthen the skin barrier, reduce inflammation, and minimize exposure to irritants and allergens. Regularly using natural emollients to maintain skin moisture, avoiding known irritants, and appropriate medical treatments are crucial in managing this complex condition.



Eczema is caused by multiple factors, so in order to treat it completely, a complete holistic approach is needed. At Holistic Skin Wellness, we offer natural and comprehensive treatments to help improve your skin.


For holistic and natural comprehensive treatments to help your skin, get in touch with our team of holistic skin experts at contact@holisticskinwellness.com. We’re here to help your skin get better.

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