Scientists Find That Eczema Is Caused By Something Unavoidable

Scientists now believe that Eczema is caused by pollutants in the air we breathe.

By Charlene Badasie | Published


Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin ailment that affects millions of people. It is a non-contagious inflammatory condition that causes the skin to become itchy and red. While the causes are not fully understood, scientists believe pollutants in the air we breathe could cause eczema – especially in babies.

Eczema cases have risen sharply in industrialized countries since the 1970s. As such, experts are convinced that environmental factors are responsible for the increase. Chief of the Epithelial Research Unit in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology, Doctor Ian Myles, examined the air in areas where the condition was most prevalent.

Along with his research team, Doctor Myles studied toxins in the surrounding environment. Their findings uncovered high levels of toxins called diisocyanates and isocyanates. These chemicals are used to manufacture adhesives, flexible foam, carpets, and stretchy, weather-resistant fabric. While the finished products are not dangerous, the smog from these factories can cause eczema.

“We have solid data establishing that pollutants are very likely behind increasing cases of atopic dermatitis,” Chief of the Epithelial Research Unit in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology, Doctor Ian Myles, said via NBC News. Exhaust fumes from everyday vehicles have also contributed to the ailment.

Although catalytic converters eliminate most of the harmful chemicals in gasoline, the process creates a byproduct called isocyanates, which may contribute to eczema outbreaks. This is evidenced by the timeline in which catalytic converters became mandatory in 1975. Around the same time, the United States experienced a rise in cases of the skin condition.

The study, published in Science Advances, also details further testing of diisocyanates and isocyanates. Using mice and bacterial cultures, scientists discovered that these chemicals affect the skin’s microbiome. They force protective bacteria to stop producing moisturizing oils. And they activate skin receptors, which tell the brain to induce eczema symptoms like itching and inflammation.

Proving that environmental pollutants trigger instances of eczema could help scientists develop new treatments. Doctor Myles carried out a trial where subjects were sprayed with healthy bacteria called Roseomonas mucosa, found in people who don’t suffer from the skin condition. Most people saw an immediate improvement in the ailment.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to reduce exposure to diisocyanates and isocyanates. “So much of this is out of our control. “You can’t shut the highways down,” Doctor Myles explained. While filtration systems might be able to remove these chemicals from the air, more research is required to figure out how effective they would be.

For now, the most effective treatment for eczema is skin hydration coupled with topical steroids for flare-ups. Moisturizing the skin regularly can help prevent dryness and itching. Topical steroids reduce inflammation and relieve itching. Antihistamines are used to treat uncomfortable symptoms. Wet wrap therapy, in which a damp dressing is applied to the skin with medication, is another soothing option.

Additionally, there are several things people can do to prevent eczema flare-ups. These include avoiding exposure to irritants, such as harsh soaps, detergents, and chemicals. Keeping the skin moisturized can help prevent dryness and itching. Identifying and managing triggers like stress can also aid in preventing flare-ups.