What to Know About the Triad of Asthma, Eczema, and Allergies

When it comes to asthma, eczema and allergies, it’s bad enough to have to suffer from one of these conditions – but, unfortunately, they’re also known to occur together. Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes this “atopic triad,” but it’s believed that inflammation and genetic traits of the sufferers’ immune systems may be significant factors. In all three conditions, the immune system overreacts. Eczema causes include allergens, which can break down the skin’s moisture barrier to trigger dermatitis outbreaks, while asthma symptoms are often also the result of a strong immune system response to allergens.

Why is this important? Awareness of this triad can particularly help people watch for and manage asthma, eczema and allergies in themselves – and in their children, since the link is significant when children suffer from severe eczema. In fact, children with severe eczema are three times more likely to later develop asthma as those with mild eczema. Plus, childhood eczema is also strongly linked to the development of food allergies.

Here’s the good news: a 2014 cohort study found that only about 7% of children with one condition go on to develop all three later in life. There’s also evidence that controlling atopic dermatitis with effective eczema treatment early on can help prevent allergies and asthma down the road.

Controlling Eczema

Taking an active approach toward the treatment of eczema, or atopic dermatitis, whether in childhood or later in life, is not just a great strategy for avoiding the atopic triad; it’s essential for living more comfortably with this itchy, uncomfortable and sometimes painful skin condition. There is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but here are some eczema treatments to try:

  • A regular regimen of moisturizing, since eczema causes the skin to be dried out
  • Topical anti-inflammatory medications like hydrocortisone
  • Antihistamines as recommended by a physician for itching
  • For allergic eczema, avoiding triggers, such as environmental or even food allergens
  • Wet wrapping, in which a medication or moisturizer is applied to the skin and then wrapped in damp fabric
  • UVB light therapy
  • Prescription medications
  • Using products especially for sensitive skin, including soaps, shampoo and dish soap

Controlling Allergies

As much as possible, people with allergies should avoid exposure to allergens, especially when allergies are severe or cause life threatening symptoms. Avoiding allergens may involve staying indoors more during seasons with high allergen counts and using an indoor air filter to reduce allergens within the home.

Additional allergy remedies can include:

  • Immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that help reduce the patient’s sensitivity to allergens
  • Antihistamines, either over-the-counter or prescription strength
  • Use of an EpiPen for those with severe allergies

Controlling Asthma

As with allergies, asthma has no cure, so avoiding triggers is key to avoiding asthma symptoms. Oftentimes, these triggers are allergens – but stress and other stimuli can also trigger an attack.

Among the strategies for controlling asthma are:

  • Practicing calming methods, such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation
  • Using a corticosteroid inhaler 
  • Taking other medications as prescribed
  • Avoiding cold, dry air, as well as extreme heat and humidity
  • Avoiding irritants like smoke and pollution
  • Exercising with caution and under a doctor’s care
  • Taking biologic medications or leukotriene modifiers, prescribed by a physician

Emergency Care

While it’s uncommon to need emergency medical care with these conditions, asthma attacks and allergic reactions can be life-threatening, so it’s a good idea to head to Avail Hospital when your symptoms are severe. 

With asthma, if you have trouble breathing, blue lips or fingernails, or can’t get relief from your regular asthma inhaler medication, come to Avail Hospital right away. For those with allergies, it’s time to come to Avail Hospital if you experience swelling of the tongue or throat, have a weak or quick pulse, or experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting, which are signs of anaphylaxis. We can help provide the urgent treatment and relief you need.

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