Eczema and Allergic Disease: What’s the connection?

More than a quarter of those affected with food allergies are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (AD) also known as eczema which can range from mild to severe forms of itchy rash, blisters, and dry skin. Eczema often occurs around the face, inside elbows, in the back of knees, arms, and hands. Usually atopic dermatitis lasts a lifetime and is deeply rooted in a family history of allergy.

The biological basis of atopic dermatitis is caused by a loss-of-function mutation in Exon 3  of the filaggrin (FLG) gene resulting in the absence of filaggrin.

Filaggrin is an important protein in the epidermis that acts to stabilize the stratum corneum (SC) layer by organizing the keratin into bundles which contribute to its strength and integrity. Breakdown of filaggrin also releases amino acids and organic molecules that form natural moisturizing factors (NMF) to keep it hydrated and moisturized. Upon the degradation of filaggrin, the epidermis becomes acidic which gives the skin an anti-microbial effect and allows for ceramide metabolism.

Therefore without the presence of filaggrin, AD patients are more prone to bacterial invasion because it loses its acidity due to an increase in pH which can contribute to infection and inflammation. Additionally,  AD patients have very few natural moisturizing factors and ceramides which contribute to dry skin, and disorganized keratin filaments causing epidermal fragility.

Recent studies have shown that FLG mutations increase the risk for asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as well as food sensitization. Although it is not entirely known that FLG mutations is significantly associated with food allergy, more research needs to be done to determine if other factors may be involved in the conversion of food sensitization to allergy.

If your child has symptoms of eczema, consult your doctor for possible treatment options such as specific topical medication and/or moisturizers to reduce inflammation and hydrate the skin.

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How it all started

I came into college without a clue of what my passions were and now that I am second semester senior, I am glad to say that college has changed me for the better. It gave me the opportunity to explore and experience activities that I thought I would never get into and I am really happy that I gave them a chance. After four years, I found out who I was, what I really wanted in life, and what I was most passionate about. However I am still learning day by day about myself and the lives of others, and I hope to never stop.

When I was a freshman, I took an introductory research course in the Chemistry department which had a curriculum solely based on the students’ interests. I was assigned to do a presentation on a topic I was interested in using scientific articles as sources. I had no idea what my interests were at the time until I delved deeper and asked myself, “what are you passionate about?” I knew I was passionate about something, but what? Family has always been number one on my priority list and the moment I thought of them, an imaginary light bulb turned on. My sister and I as well as members of my extended family have food allergies that affected the way we live our lives. The threat of a possible allergic reaction has plagued my family and special precautions and action plans are made to avoid a possible life-threatening reaction. I knew the topic of food allergies was very important to me and I wanted to learn more about the disease, so I based my presentation on food allergies and the science behind an allergic reaction. I was surprised with the amount of positive feedback I received and increasingly, more people were wondering – what was this disease all about? Was there a cure?

From that point on, my curiosity about food allergies fueled me to raise awareness because I was frustrated with the number of people who actually knew what happened during an allergic reaction and how to deal with the situation. And so, that experience began my journey to educate and raise food allergy awareness to help not only my family, but others who are diagnosed with the disease to feel included in society.

Below are snapshots of my work in efforts to raise awareness. These are just two, but I hope to create more.




I hope to use this blog to facilitate dialogue about food allergies and to raise awareness about this potentially life-threatening disease. Please follow if you are interested and let me know your thoughts!