Would knowing your future spouse has eczema change your decision to marry him/her? I knew my husband and his family have eczema (I’ve even drawn up an eczema family tree) but I didn’t know how tough it’d be to take care of a child with eczema. On the first consultation with my baby girl’s doctor, he jokingly said that I must really love my husband to marry him with the knowledge he has eczema! It got me thinking, would I have done so with the hindsight of how tough it is?!

Eczema Inherited

The likelihood of a child having eczema increases when there’s a family history of it – The % chance gets higher from (i) One parent having eczema, to (ii) Both parents having eczema and (iii) Both parents and siblings having eczema. This is a main reason why my husband and I are seriously considering stopping at one child, we don’t think we have the energy and courage to go through the trials a second time.

Can Eczema be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there’s no proven way to prevent eczema and it’s largely because the exact cause of eczema is not known, but there’re a few main causes identified and likely to be a multi-factorial condition. Here’re four main causes identified:

  1. Defective Skin Barrier – This is also known as the outside-in hypothesis whereby a defective skin barrier allows more irritant and allergen to penetrate the skin, which in turn induces the immune system to increase production of IgE (that work as antibody). Too much IgE will lead to skin inflammation, asthma, hayfever and food allergy.
  2. Allergy – It is not clear if there is a causal relationship between eczema and allergy or it is relational. What has been observed is that the more severe eczema is, the higher the chances of allergies.
  3. Auto-Immunity – This is the inside-out hypothesis that that the immune system has wrongly identified the organ it is meant to protect as an enemy to attack. It is also not known why the immune system over-reacts though the hygiene hypothesis is commonly cited.
  4. Staph – Staph is short for staphylococcus aureus, a very resilient bacteria found on the skin that can cause infection if it penetrates the skin. Staph increases IgE production, activate cells that leads to damage of skin cells.

So, as you can see, prevention is difficult when there’s so much uncertainty relating to the cause. Though not conclusive, certain pregnancy diet such as increased intake of fish and probiotics (LGG) have been shown to reduce the likelihood and/or severity of eczema.

Would I Marry my Husband?

Hmm… If I knew how tough it was, didn’t fall for him or agreed to meet him at the airport for the first time (he flew 5 hours to meet me… yes, for 1st meeting), maybe… just maybe…

p.s. I may just reveal more about why our first meeting was at the airport if enough of you ask @marciemom over twitter!



Mei is passionate about helping families with eczema children and her blog, EczemaBlues.com, offers concise posts, eczema cartoons, insightful doctor Q&As to provide parents a light-hearted sanctuary to understand more about childhood eczema. Her baby girl Marcie, who has eczema from two weeks old, has also inspired her to publish a children picture book ‘A to Z Animals are not Scratching!’ that encourages children not to scratch. Mei is active in helping her local community through a support group and an eczema fund to pay for moisturizers for low income children. You can follow Mei on twitter @MarcieMom. Read her blog http://www.eczemablues.com

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