Early in life, I wondered if my eczema could be the result of an allergic reaction. I was immediately met with the words “no”. I learned to stop asking and accept that I had eczema. There was nothing I could do except ignore the way I felt.
Two decades later I learned that wasn’t exactly the truth. Unfortunately, I had to endure a depressing period of life before I finally found an answer that made sense. In my late 20’s I found out allergies were, in fact, causing me to have red, irritated eczema.
There is a lot of miscommunication when it comes to eczema and allergies. You’ll hear different perspectives depending on the specialist you visit. To give these specialists credit, they are telling the truth, however, few of experts I saw spoke of the interconnectedness of the immune system, allergies, and eczema.
In this article, I’ll share what I learned growing up with eczema. I’ll answer the question “can eczema be an allergic reaction”. I learned the hard way but it made me better understand what was occurring in my body.
Being Told Eczema Is Not An Allergic Reaction
I remember experiencing eczema for the first time. I was in elementary school. The inside of my arms itched, my lips and eyes itched, and so did the back of my legs.
I remember playing in the grass during summer and having eczema on my feet (pretty obvious right?). I didn’t just have dry skin, I had red, angry patches of eczema.
I remember trips to the doctor and being prescribed cortisone cream over and over again. There was little talk of allergy but more talk of acceptance and “growing out of it”. I tried to forget about it but was reminded by sleepless nights, the mirror, and by classmates at school.
I didn’t grow out of my eczema, eczema grew into me.
By high school, the symptoms become worse. They mainly appeared in winter and late summer then vanished in spring and autumn. My red skin was unhappy with something but I didn’t know what it was!
Was it just dry air from the heater and air conditioner? Was it the dust in the air? I tried and failed to understand.
By my twenties, I wasn’t sleeping much. Actually I “slept” 12 hours a day but woke up exhausted. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, my eczema had spread to my neck and hands. Still, it was red!
As I was approaching 30, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had been to a family doctor, emergency clinics, and various dermatologists. I had even been an eczema patient in research studies. They all examined my red eczema. Allergies were never mentioned.
Visiting An Allergist Because Of Eczema
As a last resort, I made an appointment myself to see an allergist. He entered the room, took one look at me and said: “Wow, you got bad allergies”. It was the first time I’d heard that.
I asked him about being told I had eczema, not allergies. He went on to explain something very important. He shared that eczema and allergies are different but closely related.
Eczema creates dry skin that lacks the ability to hold moisture. It’s only when something is irritating it does eczema becomes red or weeps. Allergies, I learned, was the match that lit my eczema on fire.
At that moment I realized that my eczema didn’t have to be red and inflamed. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Because of my allergies, my immune system was on high alert, causing any inflammation to be more pronounced.
I was tested for allergies and discovered that dust mites were a significant problem for me. I also discovered that seasonal pollens were making my eczema erupt.
Can Eczema Be An Allergic Reaction: Yes
Eczema is a skin problem that 31.6 million Americans have to live with. Most people moisturize and their problem is solved and most people with eczema never visit an allergist.
Many people with eczema also have allergies, which makes management more complicated. There are different types of eczema from an allergic reaction that include:
Contact dermatitis (contact eczema)
Eczema from food allergy
Eczema from aeroallergens (environmental allergens)
Each of these types of eczema can be tough to figure out. Contact dermatitis occurs when you touch something you’re allergic to. For example: petting a cat then getting a rash on your arm.
Eczema from food allergy can also be tough to discern. Eggs, dairy, and wheat are common food allergies that may cause eczema.
Eczema from environmental allergies is even more tricky. Something in the air could be causing your eczema (pollen, mold, dust, yeasts).
Can eczema be an allergic reaction? It’s a great question to ask. I asked the same thing for years and finally found a response that made sense.
I’ve worked with an allergist for the past 4 years and my eczema is mostly gone (about 80%). There are plenty of things you can do in your home to reduce contact dermatitis and environmental allergies. You can also try the allergy elimination diet to decipher whether you have food allergies.
If you are suffering from eczema I strongly suggest visiting an allergist. Once you are tested you’ll better understand what is happening in your body (and maybe you won’t have allergies). After learning about my allergies I realized I could better manage my eczema. I also have the peace of mind knowing why my body was reacting with red, irritated eczema.
Eczema can certainly be an allergic reaction! Thanks for reading this allergy article on eczema. I wish you the best in your search for healing.