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Can eczema increase risk of asthma, hay fever, and food allergies?

A child with eczema has a greater risk of developing some other health conditions. Three of the most common are:

  • Asthma

  • Hay fever

  • Food allergies

Eliminate allergens

Eliminating allergens (what causes an allergic reaction) won’t clear eczema. It’s best to see your child’s dermatologist if you think your child has a food allergy.

no gluten nuts and dairy image

Asthma and hay fever can develop as part of a process that doctors refer to as the atopic (a-top-ic) march. During the atopic march, these diseases can develop in a sequence. Often eczema begins first. Hay fever may follow a little later. Asthma tends to develop last.

Not every child who has eczema will develop both hay fever and asthma. Some kids develop neither. The likelihood of developing these conditions increases when a child has:

  • A close blood relative who has hay fever or asthma

  • Eczema that flares frequently or continuously

Food allergies

Whether food allergies are part of the atopic march is still unclear. Food allergies are more common in children who have: 

  • Eczema as an infant

  • Eczema that flares frequently or continuously

While a child may have an increased risk of developing hay fever, asthma, and food allergies, there is no way to predict which child will get them. There are, however, things that you can do to reduce your child’s risk.

Related AAD resources

Eichenfield LF, Tom WL et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 1: Diagnosis and assessment of atopic dermatitis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2014 Feb; 70(2):338-51.

Kim J, Kwon J, et. al. “The effect of elimination diet on nutritional status in patients with atopic dermatitis.” Nutr Res Pract. 2013 Dec;7(6):488-94.

Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Part 4: Guidelines of Care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1218-33.

Silverberg J Garg N et al. “New developments in comorbidities of atopic dermatitis.” Cutis 2014 May;93(5).222-4.