Eczema, also referred to as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that plagues millions of people worldwide. It’s characterized by red, itchy, dry, and inflamed patches on the skin surface that are as uncomfortable as they are unsightly. A question commonly asked about eczema is whether it is hereditary and, if so, what can be done to manage and prevent it.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the genetics of eczema, effective skincare routines, the possibility of outgrowing eczema, holistic approaches to treatment, adult-onset eczema, and tips on prevention. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of eczema and how to deal with it effectively.
Is eczema hereditary? 
Let’s start by addressing the commonly asked question: Is eczema hereditary? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, and understanding the genetic component of eczema is important for managing and preventing it.
- Genetics of eczema: Eczema has a strong genetic component. If one or both of your parents have eczema, chances are you too will develop it. Specific genes have been identified that are associated with eczema making it a hereditary skin condition. These genes are responsible for the skin’s ability to provide an effective barrier against environmental irritants and allergens.
- The filaggrin gene: One of the key genes linked to eczema is the filaggrin gene. Filaggrin is a protein that plays a critical role in maintaining the skin’s integrity. When this gene is mutated or impaired, it can result in a defective skin barrier. A compromised skin barrier allows irritants and allergens to penetrate the skin more easily, leading to inflammation and eczema flare-ups.
- Understanding the skin barrier: To explain this concept in simple terms, think of your skin as a protective wall surrounding your body. The filaggrin gene is like the mason that builds and maintains this wall. If the mason is unable to do a good job because of a filaggrin mutation, the wall becomes weak, allowing invaders (irritants and allergens) to penetrate the wall more easily and cause trouble inside the body.
Can you outgrow eczema? 
The answer to this commonly asked question is both yes and no as it depends on various factors. In some cases, especially among children, eczema symptoms may improve or even disappear as they grow older. This phenomenon is partly attributed to the gradual maturation of the filaggrin gene. As children age, this gene may become more robust resulting in the development of a stronger skin barrier and milder eczema-related symptoms. It’s important to note, however, that not everyone with childhood eczema will grow out of the condition and never have to worry about a flare-up ever again.
Can eczema be cured from the inside out?
While eczema is not curable in the conventional sense, it can be effectively managed using, in addition to conventional external strategies, a more holistic approach that focuses on internal strategies like:
- Dietary modifications: Some individuals find relief from eczema by identifying and eliminating foods that can trigger a flare-up. Common food-related triggers include dairy, gluten, and certain nuts. Consulting a dermatologist and/or an allergist (remember that two heads are better than one) can help to pinpoint specific food triggers.
- Hydration: Staying properly hydrated is critically important for overall skin health. Drinking enough water every day helps keep your skin moisturized/hydrated from the inside out.
- Stress Management: Stress can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms. By incorporating stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, yoga, and meditation daily, an eczema sufferer can meaningfully reduce their likelihood of an eczema flare-up.
Can adults get eczema later in life?
Eczema is not an age-dependent skin condition. While oftentimes presenting in childhood, it can also develop in adults who have never experienced it before. Adult-onset eczema may be triggered by various factors like hormonal changes, stress, or exposure to new allergens/irritants. The strategies for managing adult-onset eczema are the same as those for childhood eczema. 
What skincare routine is recommended for eczema? 
There are several skincare routines (external strategies) that can be practiced to effectively treat, manage, and avoid eczema flare-ups. They include:
Treating eczema flare-ups:
- Gentle cleansing: Avoid using harsh soaps and hot water as they can worsen irritation. Instead, use a mild, gentle, hypoallergenic cleanser to wash the affected area like BIA® GENTLE CLEANSING OIL, an excellent nourishing, non-soap cleanser that locks in moisture, eliminates dry/flaky skin, and helps soothe the itch associated with eczema. Another solid option is the BIA® UNSCENTED SOAP, a cold-processed, “microbiome-friendly” soap packed with soothing, hydrating shea butter, perfect for those wanting to gently cleanse their body without irritation.
- Lukewarm baths: Take short, lukewarm baths with ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and Epsom salts to help relieve itching and soothe irritated skin. Bath soaks like Codex Labs’ SOOTHING SEA SALT SOAK, with itch-fighting oatmeal, skin conditioning serrated wrack, soothing tapioca, and relaxing Epsom + sea salts will give your skin the gentle care, treatment, and support your skin needs and wants to overcome the symptoms associated with an eczema flare-up.
- Pat dry: After bathing, gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Avoid rubbing your skin dry as it can further irritate your skin.
- Prescribed topical treatments: As mentioned above, the use of topical corticosteroids or non-steroidal creams prescribed by a dermatologist can help reduce inflammation during a flare-up.
- Emollient creams and ointments: Apply a thick emollient cream or ointment immediately after bathing and throughout the day to keep the skin well hydrated and to seal in moisture.
- Cool compresses: Apply cool, damp compresses to itchy areas for relief. Avoid hot or cold extremes as they can trigger itchiness.
- Daily moisturization: Daily use of a moisturizer, especially right after bathing, will help to lock moisture in your skin leaving your skin barrier fortified and functioning properly. Moisturizers like the award winning, National Eczema Association-approved BIA® HYDRATING SKIN SUPERFOOD with its patented BiaComplex® skin hydrating and replenishing technology rehydrates your skin and locks in the moisture. Another National Eczema Association-approved product is the BIA® NOURISHING FACIAL OIL which can be used on its own to lock in much needed moisture or, if maximum hydration is your goal, use it in combination with the BIA® HYDRATING SKIN SUPERFOOD for unparalleled sealed-in hydration that your dry, itchy, sensitive skin will greatly appreciate!
- Avoid irritants: Look for skincare and laundry products that are free of fragrance allergens, dyes, and harsh chemicals as these can aggravate eczema-prone skin.
- Cotton clothing: Wear loose-fitting, breathable cotton to minimize irritation. Avoid wool and synthetic fabrics that can scratch and irritate your skin.
- Humidifier: Use a humidifier in your home, especially during dry seasons to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels to prevent skin dryness.
- Stress management: Practice stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga since it’s well established that stress can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Preventing eczema flare-ups:
- Identify triggers: Work with a dermatologist and/or an allergist to identify and avoid specific triggers like allergens (ex. pollen and pet dander) and irritants (ex. harsh detergents and fragrances), and make sure to take steps to minimize your exposure to them.
- Patch testing: If you suspect certain skincare products or ingredients may be triggering eczema, you may want to consider working with an allergist who will conduct patch testing to identify potential allergens.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water daily, to keep your skin hydrated from within.
- Fortify your skin barrier: The damage done by eczema flare-ups on the skin barrier can be quite significant and without a strong, properly functioning skin barrier, effective prevention and management of eczema can be challenging, if not impossible. Fortunately for eczema sufferers, there are options for strengthening the skin barrier. The ANTU® SKIN BARRIER REPAIR SET offers a patented, comprehensive topical skincare regimen that restores skin barrier integrity/functionality, calms irritation/inflammation, and helps reduce the appearance of redness.
Is there a connection between eczema and inflammation? 
Glad you asked and the answer is yes! Oxidative stress is increasingly recognized as a contributing factor to the development and exacerbation of eczema. To better understand this relationship, let’s break it down.
Oxidative stress is a cellular imbalance between the production of harmful molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize and/or repair the resulting damage. ROS are natural byproducts of various cellular processes in the body. Think of ROS as little skin troublemakers that can mess with your skin’s health. These troublemakers are typically neutralized by the antioxidants produced by your body.
Unfortunately, sometimes your body can’t make enough of its own antioxidants to neutralize all the little ROS troublemakers in your skin before they cause damage. To make matters worse, ROS and eczema are like partners in crime, meaning, ROS makes the systems associated with eczema worse by weakening your skin barrier and intensifying the redness/itchiness/puffiness of your eczematic symptoms.
There are, however, things you can do to help your body combat ROS like:
- applying antioxidant-rich topical products,
- eating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables,
- keeping your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water and using moisturizers,
- avoiding harsh cleansers and known allergens,
- finding ways to chill and relax to avoid stress.
And, for those looking for an extra boost of ROS neutralizing antioxidants which can help strengthen and fortify your skin barrier from the inside out, there is the ANTU® SKIN BARRIER SUPPORT SUPPLEMENT. This wonder supplement, in addition to having potent, ROS-neutralizing plant-based antioxidants (M3+™) from Patagonia for supporting and maintaining the skin barrier (critically important for those suffering from dry skin conditions) ALSO contains the amino acid L-histidine which supports skin barrier strength, moisture retention and has been clinically shown to provide effective eczema management and relief. 
Eczema is, unfortunately, influenced by genetics with specific genes like filaggrin playing a critical role in its development. Although eczema is not curable, it can be effectively managed and, to some extent, avoided. Understanding your genetic predisposition, adopting a suitable skincare routine, and addressing the factors that trigger eczema flare-ups can lead to improved skin health and a better quality of life. Remember that you’re not alone in your battle against eczema and that seeking help and guidance from healthcare professionals can make a significant difference in your experience with this annoying skin condition.
Learn more about our hydrating solutions for eczema prone skin by visiting www.codexlabscorp.com/pages/eczema
- Oxidative Stress in Atopic Dermatitis - PMC (nih.gov)