Why Have I Suddenly Got Eczema?

Eczema can suddenly appear for the first time in later life for unknown reasons. Skin has a tendency to become drier as we get older causing itching, roughness, and scaling. Occasionally, the emergence of eczema in adulthood can be attributed to a stressful lifestyle.

eczema ultraviolet light treatment

It is unknown as to what exactly causes eczema. Though for most types of eczema, skin experts believe that it involves a combination of genes and triggers. Studies have shown that children are more likely to develop eczema if someone in their family has it, such as a parent or a sibling.

People who develop eczema may also have asthma and other types of allergies, such as hay fever. Asthma, eczema, and hay fever are referred to as "atopic" conditions, which affect people who are excessively sensitive to allergens in the environment.

When you get eczema after your 18th birthday, your dermatologist may refer to it as an adult-onset atopic dermatitis. You would receive this diagnosis if you never had eczema before. A peak time for developing adult-onset atopic dermatitis is when people reach the age of 50.


Dry Skin and Eczema

When your skin becomes excessively dry, it can feel rough, scaly, and tight. It also increases the chances of having an eczema flare. Additionally, people tend to scratch their dry skin, causing more skin irritation.

Keeping your skin moisturized, especially during winter or dry seasons, is one way to combat dry skin and eczema.

Irritants and Eczema

Some people develop eczema flare-ups in response to certain irritants. Common irritants that may trigger a rash include:

  • Acids – such as lemon juice
  • Alkalis – such as baking soda
  • Artificial fragrance – such as bath products
  • Cleaning products – such as detergents
  • Friction – such as from clothing

Irritants could damage the skin barrier by removing moisture and oils. If this impairment continues before the skin can repair itself, it could lead to irritant contact dermatitis.

Stress and Eczema

Emotional stress can trigger eczema symptoms in some people. Dermatologists do not know why exactly, but there are ways to help lessen stress like cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and meditation techniques. Ask your healthcare provider for some recommendations on how to reduce stress if it is a trigger for your eczema.


Diagnosing Eczema

People with symptoms of eczema should see a dermatologist. Eczema can indicate another type of allergy in your body, so it is imperative to determine what is causing the reaction.

Ultraviolet light treatment may be suggested for severe eczema. Phototherapy involves controlled exposure to UVB light for a few minutes, two to three times a week. Treatment may continue for several months, depending on your dermatologist’s diagnosis.

Special diets that exclude certain foods have been effective in treating eczema in some people, though not everyone responds to diet therapy.