The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but in a typical eczema sufferer, it is known that a defect in the barrier of normal skin fails to retain moisture, becomes dry, itchy, inflamed and often infected. This defect may occur in combination with an abnormally functioning immune system, causing the characteristic inflammation. Some forms of eczema can be triggered by contact with certain substances, such as soaps, fragranced cosmetics, detergents, and sweat. Changes in temperature or humidity as well as psychological stress may trigger outbreaks.
Reviewed by Gauri Khurana, MD