Eczema is a blanket word that refers to a variety of inflammatory skin disorders, often known as dermatitis. Several kinds of dermatitis are caused by an immune system response, and some evidence shows that autoimmunity may play a role.
An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues by mistake. This is often distinct from other forms of immune responses, such as an allergic reaction, which occurs when the body considers a specific substance to be a threat.
However, according to research published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, atopic dermatitis (AD) can begin as an allergic reaction and proceed to an autoimmune response.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a term used to describe a collection of skin disorders that create itchy, inflammatory rashes. Eczema can show in red spots on people with light skin tones. On darker skin tones, the patches may appear brown, purple, or gray.
There are now seven forms of eczema recognized by doctors:
- contact dermatitis
- atopic dermatitis
- stasis dermatitis
- dyshidrotic eczema
- seborrheic dermatitis
- nummular eczema
The immune system appears to be linked to most kinds of eczema, although the data is limited.
This article examines the putative relationships between autoimmunity and three forms of eczema: atopic, dyshidrotic, and nummular eczema.
Is atopic dermatitis an autoimmune disease?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, (AD) is a prevalent type of eczema with no clear etiology. Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease develops as a result of a combination of genetics, a weak immune system, and environmental factors that cause symptoms. Autoimmunity may also have a role, according to some studies.
According to dermatologists, patients with Alzheimer’s disease have a hereditary characteristic that causes their skin to lose moisture too fast, leaving breaches in the skin barrier. This might result in dry, unprotected skin.
This isn’t necessarily enough to produce Alzheimer’s disease. Other variables that may increase the likelihood of getting the illness in persons who are susceptible to it include:
- living somewhere that is cold and damp for at least some of the year
- exposure to pollution and tobacco smoke
Autoimmunity may possibly play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. According to the authors of a research published in 2021, Alzheimer’s disease may begin as an allergic reaction before evolving to an autoimmune response. They believe that persistent inflammation and relapses are caused by this.
A major population-based research from 2021 discovered that patients with one or more autoimmune conditions, particularly those affecting the skin and digestive tract, have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This shows that one may cause or enhance the risk of the other.
More study on how Alzheimer ‘s disease develops, however, is needed to clarify whether it is an autoimmune disease and, if so, what therapies could assist.
Is dyshidrotic eczema an autoimmune disease?
Small, irritating blisters appear on the soles, palms, and margins of the fingers and toes in dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx. Although the reason is unknown, many people who suffer from it also have another kind of eczema. Doctors have also discovered that dyshidrotic eczema may run in families.
The following are some of the most prevalent causes of flare-ups:
- metal allergies, especially nickel allergy
- seasonal allergies, such as hay fever
- heat and humidity
Because there have been few research on the immune response in persons with dyshidrotic eczema, it’s uncertain if it’s autoimmune.
Is nummular eczema an autoimmune disease?
Nummular eczema is characterized by coin-shaped areas that are itchy and occasionally oozing. Patches can occur on any part of the body. Experts are unsure what causes nummular eczema, although they believe it has something to do with:
- having dry or sensitive skin
- having other types of eczema
- metal allergies
- cuts, insect bites, or chemical burns
- low blood flow in the legs, if the patches appear there
Can eczema be a symptom of other autoimmune diseases?
Eczema and skin rashes are common symptoms of autoimmune diseases, however none of these symptoms alone would prompt a clinician to suspect an autoimmune illness. Eczema is a common skin condition that can develop on its own.
Eczema and autoimmune diseases can coexist, and the one can exacerbate the other. Eczema can be made worse by conditions that make the immune system more sensitive or cause inflammation.
Additionally, eczema can develop as a side effect of an autoimmune disorder. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), for example, can make it difficult to absorb nutrients.
According to a 2012 research, if certain nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, are deficient, the skin might become dry and prone to eczema.
According to a 2015 research, after taking this medicine, 29.6% of patients acquired scaling eczema and 18.5 percent had aggravated atopic eczema.
What other factors contribute to eczema?
Other causes, in addition to autoimmunity, can stimulate the immune system, including:
- irritants, such as artificial fragrance, harsh cleaning products, or smoke
- friction on the skin from itchy fabrics
- certain bacteria, viruses, and yeast
- dysbiosis, which is when the microbiome in the gut or on the skin is imbalanced
Symptoms can also be caused by things that decrease the skin’s capacity to moisturize and defend itself. Frequent hand washing, alcohol hand sanitizer usage, and hot showers, for example, can promote skin dryness. After having the skin wet, moisturizing it or applying sanitizers with moisturizers can assist.
Some of these variables have a greater impact on specific forms of eczema than others. Experts believe that seborrheic dermatitis is caused by a kind of yeast known as Malassezia.
This yeast thrives on the skin, but if it becomes too large, it might cause an immunological reaction. It may be controlled using antifungal treatments and shampoos.
To understand the causes of eczema and provide the appropriate therapies, doctors must first diagnose the precise form of eczema. People might have many types of eczema in different parts of their body, requiring different treatments.
Eczema can appear a lot like other skin illnesses including infections, psoriasis, and actinic keratosis, which is a precancerous skin rash.
If you haven’t received an official diagnosis or if conventional eczema treatments aren’t working, consult a dermatologist.
Eczema is a catch-all word for a group of seven inflammatory and itchy skin disorders. Each is unique and can be triggered in a variety of ways.
More study into Alzheimer’s disease might lead to new medicines that tackle the underlying process.
Consult an eczema specialist for a diagnosis and treatment options that can help you manage your symptoms.