By Ashley Koch, MS
If your skin could talk, what would it be trying to say?
Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that impacts 30% of the population and is common among children and adolescents. Our skin is our largest organ, and its presentations can provide key signals about the state of our body’s internal life. Eczema is one of the early expressions of allergic disease. It often presents as dry and itchy skin on the face, elbow and knee or arm folds, as well as various other parts of the body.
Why should we pay attention to this irritated skin?
Eczema can be a signal of internal inflammatory events currently present in the body. Eczema in early life can also be a signal of future inflammatory events. Research continues to point out that eczema may also be associated with other allergic co-morbidities, such as asthma and food allergies. Scientists have also deemed the term “atopic march,” which essentially refers to individuals who begin with eczema in infancy, followed by allergic rhinitis and asthma in later life.
A recent study revealed that early life eczema was associated with a high risk of subsequent ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (1,2). Eczema increases the risk of autoimmune disease, such as alopecia areata, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis and vitiligo (3). A recent cohort study confirmed that the presence of eczema is associated with autoimmunity, but also that the severity of the eczema increases the risk of autoimmunity. Finally, evidence is linked between eczema and comorbidities, such as phycological disorders and cardiovascular disease (3).
What can you do?
Recognize this irritating inconvenience on our skin or that of our child’s as an opportunity to address the underlying dysregulation and inflammation and seek support from a health care provider to improve outcomes.
We continue to understand that the health of the gut microbiome, the vast ecosystem living within our digestive tracts, is integral in maintaining the health of function of the body. The gut is where two-thirds of our immune system lives and is responsible for 75% of the neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that send signals around the body. In addition, 70% of Americans are suffering from digestive-related illness, highlighting the need to focus on improving the overall function of the digestive system.
Gut dysbiosis is present in many inflammatory conditions and has been demonstrated to be prevalent in those suffering from eczema. Children with eczema have lower levels of diversity in their gut microbiomes, as determined by the Shannon’s index, a tool we use in our clinical practice to evaluate gut health (2).
At Biolounge, our work is rooted in investigation, as we work to identify biochemical imbalances that can negatively impact health, behaviors, growth and development. Our approach combines an in-depth health intake with each patient alongside comprehensive laboratory testing to address gut health, digestive health, metabolic function and immune health to improve outcomes for our patients.
Are you suffering from eczema? Does your child have a history of eczema or allergic disease?
Schedule an exploratory call or initial consultation with Ashley Koch, MS. Ashley specializes in pediatric and adolescent health. Instead of masking symptoms, Ashley can support you or your child in building a solid foundation that can be paramount to optimal function and long-term health outcomes achieved through lifestyle medicine.
1. Chen MH, Su TP, Chen YS, Hsu JW, Huang KL, Chang WH, Chen TJ, Pan TL, Bai YM. Is atopy in early childhood a risk factor for ADHD and ASD? a longitudinal study. J Psychosom Res. 2014 Oct;77(4):316-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.06.006. Epub 2014 Jun 21. PMID: 25280829.
2. Loo, E., Ooi, D., Ong, M., Ta, L., Lau, H. X., Tay, M., Yap, Q. V., Chan, Y. H., Tham, E. H., Goh, A., Van Bever, H., Teoh, O. H., Eriksson, J. G., Chong, Y. S., Gluckman, P., Yap, F., Karnani, N., Xu, J., Tan, K., Tan, K. H., … Broekman, B. (2022). Associations Between Eczema and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Children. Frontiers in pediatrics, 10, 837741.
3. Lu Z, Zeng N, Cheng Y, Chen Y, Li Y, Lu Q, Xia Q, Luo D. Atopic dermatitis and risk of autoimmune diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2021 Sep 25;17(1):96.