Childhood Eczema: An Environmental Scan

Table of Contents

3.2.3 Co-Morbid Conditions: Asthma and Rhinitis

Both asthma and rhinitis are well known co-morbid conditions of eczema (27;28). A great deal of attention has focused on children with eczema and further development later in life of asthma and other allergies or the ‘allergen sensitization’. Although a difficult issue to untangle and to clinically understand, findings from numerous clinical studies have shown the direct association between childhood eczema and the onset of asthma even into later adult years; childhood eczema is not simply a child disease but may have serious life consequences later in life (27).

In Australia cited results that show the risk for people developing asthma, who were sufferers of childhood eczema was double that of their peers who did not suffer with the skin disease. Furthermore the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology recently reported that 46% of children who have eczema also develop asthma and in 2007, 29% of children in the United States with food allergies also suffered with asthma (25). Work done on the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study showed definitively that eczema as opposed to childhood wheezing or rhinitis may be largely responsible for allergen sensitization when the child become older, such findings support the position that early clinical management of eczema is important in impacting later life allergy development (29)

Rhinitis, which is best known as a runny nose is the clinical reference to nasal membranes that are irritated or inflamed caused by irritants such as bacteria or allergens (30). Common types of rhinitis include non-allergic (vasomotor), allergic and hayfever. The importance of asthma, rhinitis and eczema are the common occurring allergic associations and the need to manage and treat all manifestations of atopic disease holistically. Thus, research must also include a comprehensive approach in investigating childhood eczema, asthma, and rhinitis and acknowledge the interplay of all components to effectively help children and their families dealing with atopic disease and subsequent allergic sensitivity.