The Genes-Eczema Connection
What does eczema have to do with genetics? Parents with atopic eczema must have a gene that causes the skin condition, right? According to science, it’s not so simple.
The immune system is set up and controlled by the genes. This means that more than one gene may cause eczema, and a child must have the right combination of genes to develop the condition. This is why it is difficult to predict whether the child will inherit it or not, and why the condition seems to appear out of nowhere sometimes.
But one thing is certain: children can surely inherit eczema from their parents.
The Good News: No Effect on Child’s Development
Fortunately, if you are an expectant or breastfeeding mother who is experiencing symptoms of eczema, you don’t have to worry about it interfering with the child’s development before birth, or the baby catching it from breast milk.
If they inherit it, it is not because you experienced a flare-up during pregnancy or while breastfeeding—it’s all genes and a few other factors like diet, lifestyle, and the environment.
Can you prevent transmitting eczema by birth?
Because eczema can be inherited, there is no way to prevent it. Once you have it though, there are ways to prevent flare-ups. Avoiding specific triggers and proper skin moisturization can reduce recurrence of itchy eczem rashes.
Triggers include hot climate, dry, cold weather, harsh cosmetics, infection and certain foods. Stress can play a role as well; for instance, when the children’s parents are separated, the kids experience an increased risk of eczema, according to a recent study.
Other triggers include:
- animal dander
- harsh soaps
- clothes made of wool or coarsely woven materials
- certain skin care products, perfumes, and colognes
- tobacco smoke
- excessive heat
Putting moisture back into your child’s skin is another way to keep their eczema under control. Choose a plain, unscented, and child-friendly moisturizer that does not have fragrance or preservatives, and apply onto your child’s skin often, especially after bathing and washing.
The Best Advice: Talk to the Experts
But of course, if you suspect eczema, it is always best to consult a pediatrician. A thorough medical history is the best diagnostic tool, with a family history of allergies, asthma, and hay fever as important clues. Apart from doing a physical examination and a family history check, the doctor will likely ask you about your child’s health background and symptoms, as well as allergies and any medicines the child is taking.
If your child develops eczema, remember that it’s not your fault. It’s not something you could have prevented 100%, even when doing everything right as a parent. What’s more important is that now you have a better understanding of what it is and how to prevent flare-ups; at least you know what to do.