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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop eczema with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing eczema. If you have a number of risk factors for eczema, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

Genetic Factors

There is a strong genetic component to eczema, although the specific details of how eczema is inherited remain incompletely understood. Parents who suffer from allergic disorders, including eczema, asthma, and hay fever have a higher risk of having children with eczema.

Environment

Eczema may be triggered or worsened by environmental factors such as:

  • Skin irritants, including wool or synthetic clothing, soaps or detergents, cosmetics or perfumes, dust/sand, chemical solvents, chlorine
  • Extremes in temperate or climate (cold or hot temperatures or dry air or extremely humid air)
  • Lack of moisturizing after bathing

Medical Conditions

People who are prone to allergies have a greater risk of developing eczema than those who do not have allergies. Some allergens that may be associated with eczema include:

  • Plant pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Household dust mites
  • Molds
  • Certain foods

Age

Eczema can occur at any age, but the risk is greatest for infants and children. It is estimated that of people who eventually develop eczema, 65% of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life, and 90% develop symptoms before age 5. The condition often improves in adulthood, but 50% of those affected in childhood are affected throughout life.

References:

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2001.

National Eczema Association website. Available at: http://www.nationaleczema.org.



Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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