What is Eczema and What Causes It?

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a rash that shows up as an itchy skin inflammation. It is similar to an allergic reaction in that there are typically specific triggers for the rash, but those triggers differ for each person. These triggers can be almost anything, ranging from soaps and creams to weather and emotional or mental stress. They can cause various types of eczema as well.Types of Triggers

What is eczema?


The duration of contact with the skin does not make a difference regarding triggers such as soaps, creams, and detergents. The body may break out immediately upon the first touch, or it may take coming into contact with the trigger several times before a break out occurs. Once the eczema rash is often treated and eliminated, future eczema outbreaks with these types of stimuli can be avoided by monitoring what kind of creams and soaps are used and how much of these are used.


Environmental triggers include weather (humidity, extreme heat, cold, dry air) or even water. The most common weather trigger is dry air and extreme cold. Most people are affected to some extent by winter weather, requiring lotion to keep their skin extra moisturized during the winter. However, those suffering from eczema usually have more of a challenge during the winter weather. Once exposed to cold weather, some eczema sufferers have dry, leathery, cracked skin for the entirety of winter. Water can cause an eczema outbreak when the skin gets wet, and clothes rub against it. As with soaps, sometimes this will cause an immediate episode, and sometimes it will take a few hours for this to cause an outbreak.

Types of Eczema

There are several different types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, affecting everyone from infants to adults. This is a chronic disease; while some people may not always show symptoms, eczema never disappears. Specific triggers will cause the symptoms to reappear, even if the condition has been dormant for years. Atopic dermatitis tends to be genetic. Doctors have found that those who develop this eczema often have family members with a history of allergic conditions like asthma.

Contact eczema is another common form of eczema. This type of eczema can be set off by laundry detergent, fabrics, metal jewelry (nickel specifically), and even cosmetics. Some people with contact eczema may develop a rash as soon as they contact the trigger. Some people may not produce the inflammation until hours or days later. People who develop this eczema typically have a history of other allergies.