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  • Eczema is not contagious like the flu or a cold, but it is often inherited or passed through genes
  • If you are thinking that eating specific foods will directly cause eczema or that the skin disorder is contagious, it is time to clear up those myths once and for all, and get your facts straight
 

Is Eczema Contagious? Eczema Myths Debunked

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Although eczema is very common, many misconceptions about it still persist. One reason is that it can be confused with other skin ailments like hives, scabies, food allergy and psoriasis, especially when you are still not familiar with its symptoms and triggers.

If you are wondering if eating specific foods causes eczema or if the skin disorder is contagious, it is time to clear up those myths once and for all.

Myth: Eczema is contagious.

Fact: Not at all. It cannot spread from person to person.

“People think any skin condition is contagious, especially if it occurs all over,” says Dr. Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. “But you can’t catch eczema from another person and you can’t give it to someone by touching him or her.”1

That said, eczema is not contagious like the flu or a cold, but it is often inherited or passed through genes. The most common type of eczema, called atopic dermatitis, occurs in about 8 in 10 children where both parents have the condition, and in about 6 in 10 children where one parent has the condition.2

Moreover, children born into families with a history of allergic diseases, such as hay fever or asthma, are at an increased risk for developing eczema. In fact, this ailment is considered to be part of the “atopic march,” which involves the diagnosis of eczema, food allergy, allergic rhinitis and asthma, typically in that sequential order.3

Myth: Eczema symptoms are the same.

Fact: Its symptoms are different for everyone.

Your eczema may not look the same on another adult, or on your child. It’s also possible that you may have all the usual symptoms or only a few. In addition, the rashes may appear in different parts of your body at different times.4 The common symptoms of eczema include:5

Dry, raw and sensitive skin

Red, inflamed skin

Itchiness

Areas of swelling

Dark-colored, scaly patches of skin

Leathery texture of skin

Oozing or crusting


Myth: Eczema is a superficial skin problem.

Fact: Eczema can be mild or severe, and it has dozens of different types. It can wreak havoc on the lives of people who have it, resulting in health problems that are more than skin deep, according to a recent Northwestern Medicine study of 62,000 adults.6

Eczema is an umbrella term for skin that is red, itchy and irritated. While the different types of eczema look similar, they are not entirely the same. Nonetheless, regardless of the type of eczema you have or its severity, the rashes are definitely itchy and can worsen that you could develop extremely inflamed skin. Sometimes, the itch becomes so bad that people scratch until they bleed, which is called the “itch-scratch cycle.”7

“The perception persists that it is ‘just eczema...’ But for the most severe patients, eczema can be incredibly damaging to quality of life,” says Dr. Peter Lio, the co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center.8

Myth: Eczema is directly caused by food allergies.

Fact: Certain foods, such as dairy, eggs, wheat and peanuts can trigger eczema, but this only suggests correlation between food allergies and eczema, not causation.9

Removal of foods that may cause a flare-up can sometimes result in significant improvement of your condition, but this will not cure your eczema.10

Myth: Eczema can be cured.

Fact: Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema.

In most cases, though, eczema is manageable, and can go away for months or even several years. However, remember that its symptoms may come and go. One day your skin may be fine, and the next, you may experience a flare-up of red, sore and dry rash that is extremely itchy. This is why dealing with your “triggers” is crucial if you have this condition.11

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