A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop atopic dermatitis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing atopic dermatitis. If you have a number of risk factors for atopic dermatitis, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

There is a strong genetic component to atopic dermatitis, although the specific details of how it is inherited remain incompletely understood. Parents who suffer from allergic disorders, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and hay fever have a higher risk of having children with atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis may be triggered or worsened by environmental factors such as:

  • Skin irritants, including wool or synthetic clothing, soaps or detergents, cosmetics or perfumes, dust/sand, chemical solvents, chlorine
  • Extremes in temperate or climate (cold or hot temperatures or dry air or extremely humid air)
  • Lack of moisturizing after bathing

People who are prone to allergies have a greater risk of developing atopic dermatitis than those who do not have allergies. Some allergens that may be associated with eczema include:

  • Plant pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Household dust mites
  • Molds
  • Certain foods

Atopic dermatitis can develop at any age, but the risk is greatest for infants and children. It is estimated that of people who eventually develop atopic dermatitis, more than half develop symptoms in the first year of life, and almost all develop symptoms before age 5. The condition often improves in adulthood, but half of those affected in childhood are affected throughout life.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods MD, FAAP
  • Review Date: 11/2018 -
  • Update Date: 01/04/2016 -