According to research by Australian scientists there is a link between childhood eczema and the onset of asthma in adults.
The new study has found those who had childhood eczema were twice as likely to develop asthma and the researchers say more aggressive treatment of childhood eczema may be an important step in preventing asthma later on in life.
The study which was carried out by the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, tracked more than 8,500 people who are part of the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study from the ages of seven to 44.
The study is the first to demonstrate a link between childhood eczema and asthma into middle age.
Leader author John Burgess, from Melbourne University's School of Population Health, says the study found people who had childhood eczema were more likely to develop childhood asthma, new-onset asthma later in life or to have asthma which persisted from childhood into middle age.
Dr. Burgess says childhood eczema doubles the risk of someone developing asthma well into adulthood compared to people who had never had eczema.
Dr. Burgess says their findings also support the concept of the "atopic march", in which eczema is often the first step in an allergic process that leads on to asthma or hay fever in later life.
He says the results of the study are a strong argument for trialling aggressive therapies against childhood eczema to help reduce the burden of asthma later in life.
Dr. Burgess says cortisone is an effective treatment for eczema and more can be done to prevent children with eczema developing asthma in later life and other potent creams should be trialled in order to see if they can reduce the incidence of asthma over time.