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What causes atopic dermatitis?

Ever wondered what causes your atopic dermatitis?

Well, the immune system plays a big role. Let’s take a look at how, as person with AD, yours works a little differently.1,2

So, what’s happening in your immune system?

The immune system is our body’s natural defence, but AD causes yours to be overactive.1 It’s normal for the immune system to respond to threats, like bacteria and viruses, with inflammation.3 This is how the immune system protects the body.

But as a person with AD or eczema, your immune system thinks that some substances, called allergens, are a threat too.3 This means you experience more inflammation than a person without AD.3

Woman with eczema wearing pink dungerees making eye contact with Change AD immune system robot

The other causes of atopic dermatitis

You’ve learned about the immune system, but there are other factors that can also play a role in your AD:2,3


Genetics can also play a role in causing AD. Nobody wants to pass down the genetics they don’t like, whether it’s AD, or the nose you hate. But it’s been found that a variation of the gene ‘filaggrin’ results in a damaged skin barrier, which can contribute to AD.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors can also play a part in AD too. Things like pollen, animals, and the foods you eat can all be potential triggers for your AD flare-ups.

It’s all about a new perspective

Changing AD doesn’t happen overnight. But by understanding the role of your immune system, and the fact it isn’t trying to hurt you, you might be able to find more peace with your condition (despite everything it’s put you through). You can work with a dermatologist to proactively manage to proactively manage your AD and AD and work towards long-term control.

Woman with eczema sat next to Change AD immune system robot  on a wooden bench, both making eye contact

Download the infographic

Want something to refer back to? Take a look at our simple one-page infographic about what may cause or contribute to your AD.


Common Triggers

Common triggers

Beyond the underlying causes of your AD, you may also find that external factors can trigger flare-ups too.

Discover more

What is AD

What is atopic dermatitis?

It's a simple question, and we've got the simple answer. Let's break down the very basics of AD.

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AD vs. eczema

Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema

There are different types of eczema, and atopic dermatitis is one of them. Learn about the differences between each type, and what makes AD stand out.

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  1. Wollina U. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol 2017; 10:51–56.

  2. Eyerich K et al. Trends Immunol 2015; 36(12):788–801.

  3. Bieber T. Ann Dermatol 2010; 22(2):125–137.