Written by: Jonine Möller, M.Sc. in Sport Science
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that affects 15 - 20% of all people. This condition causes dry, itchy, inflamed skin lesions that can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. While eczema has been linked to environmental factors such as stress, allergens, and other irritants, research has also shown a significant genetic component to the development of this condition. In this blog post, we will examine how genes influence the risk for eczema and how this information can impact treatment options.
The Role of Genes in Eczema
Studies have shown that eczema is often inherited, meaning that if one or both parents have eczema, their children are more likely to develop the condition. This suggests a strong genetic component to the development of eczema. Some genes have been identified that are associated with eczema, and research has shown that mutations in these genes can increase the risk of developing the condition.
One of the genes that have been linked to eczema is the filaggrin gene. This gene is responsible for producing a protein called filaggrin, which helps to maintain the skin barrier and prevent the skin from becoming dry and irritated. Mutations in this gene have been linked to an increased risk for eczema and other skin conditions such as asthma and hay fever.
Another gene that has been linked to eczema is the FLG gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein involved in skin barrier function. Mutations in this gene have been linked to an increased risk for eczema and other skin conditions such as ichthyosis vulgaris and atopic dermatitis.
How This Information Impacts Treatment
The genetic component of eczema can be crucial in treating this condition. For example, a person with a genetic mutation in the filaggrin gene may be more susceptible to eczema and other skin conditions. This information can be used to tailor treatment options to meet the specific needs of each individual.
In some cases, treatment may involve topical creams and ointments to reduce itching and inflammation. In other cases, treatment may involve systemic medications to help manage the underlying causes of eczema. Additionally, individuals with eczema may benefit from avoiding certain environmental triggers, such as stress and allergens, to reduce their risk of flare-ups.
The greater the genetic risk for eczema, the more care should be given to avoid environmental triggers. Soap and detergents may be among the environmental triggers. Thus, individuals prone to eczema should be wary of the cleaning products they use.
Food allergens can also trigger eczema, so these should be identified and avoided. Stress management may also be of the essence. Identify what may cause you to stress and find ways to try and minimize this by making lifestyle changes as far as possible and taking the needed time-outs.
In conclusion, while environmental factors play a significant role in the development of eczema, research has shown that there is also a strong genetic component to this condition. Understanding the role of genes in eczema can help healthcare providers tailor treatment options to meet the specific needs of each individual.
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