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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can eczema be caused by allergens or is it always genetically predisposed?

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    Can eczema be caused by allergens or is it always genetically predisposed?
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  • Dr Anne Halbert

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    Dr Anne Halbert is a paediatric dermatologist in Perth, Western Australia. After completing her dermatology training and becoming a Fellow of the Australasian College of … View Profile

    Atopic eczema is always genetically predisposed. Although it can be aggravated by allergies, it is rare for allergies to be the central driving force. Contact eczema (also called allergic contact dermatitis) can be caused by allergies to preparations on the skin, for example to tea tree oil, lanolin, henna tattoos and plants.

  • Prof Rodney Sinclair

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    Professor Sinclair is a Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne and Director of Epworth Dermatology. He is past-president of the Australasian Society for … View Profile

    Yes and yes. 
    The genetic predisposition to eczema works by impairing the skin barrier.  This allows skin allergens and irritants to enter the skin and activate skin inflammation.
    Allergens are involved in almost every case of eczema, however patch testing to identify allergies is only occasionally useful.  Most cases of eczema respond better to measures to restore the skin barrier (and thereby preventing allergens form entering the skin) than avoidance of allergens.

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