Is eczema contagious? Demystifying eczema

Many eczema patients always have this question to ask, “Is eczema contagious?”. Of all the wrong information that has been disseminated about this skin ailment, there has been one that has been widely perceived to be a fact – eczema is contagious. But, is eczema contagious? We are going to demystify this, among other misconceptions associated with eczema.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a severe rash occurring on the skin. It is also known as atopic dermatitis. The severe efflorescence leads to loss of fluids from the body through the broken skin. Consequently, the exposed skin gives way to allergens which, in a case of severe eczema, may lead to inflammation of the skin. In most cases, eczema begins during childhood and may at times become increasingly worse as one gets older.

Causes of eczema

Despite there being extensive research about the causes of atopic eczema, it has not been established with certainty what causes the ailment. The development of the condition is attributable to the convergence of some factors discussed below.

  1. Dysfunction in the immune system. Eczema could arise when the body attacks itself in the case of the autoimmune disease. As a result, the body becomes chronically inflamed and at the same time starts showing other unpleasant symptoms.
  2. Dry and irritable skin. Skin that is unable to remain moist significantly diminishes its natural ability to fight against bacteria and other pathogens. This lack of moisture, ultimately, exposes the skin to bacteria that cause inflammation.
  3. Genetic composition. If one has one or both parents, or even siblings suffering from atopic eczema, seasonal allergies and asthma, chances are very high that he or she is likely to have eczema.
  4. Bacteria infected the skin. Some types of bacteria may inhibit the sweat gland by forming a protective film that affects the normal functioning of the organ. As a result, the surplus moisture that would otherwise flow to the surface of the skin remains trapped below the skin causing irritation. One such bacterium is Staphylococcus aureus.

Symptoms of eczema

It is possible to confuse atopic eczema with other skin conditions like psoriasis, hives, and scabies. Some people often think that it is a result of an allergic reaction from food. However, it is possible to narrow down to some of the most common symptoms of this ailment. The most common indicators of eczema are:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red skin which is inflamed
  • Swollen areas on the skin
  • Scaly patches with a dark coloration
  • Dry and sensitive skin
  • Oozing sores on the skin

These symptoms can manifest themselves in any part of the body.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that there are types of eczema other than atopic eczema. These are dyshidrotic eczema (also known as dyshidrosis) and eczema herpeticum. Dyshidrotic eczema is not contagious. Formation of itchy blisters on the soles of one’s feet or the palms of one’s hands characterizes this type of eczema. These blisters may be full of fluid and may last between two to four weeks.

is eczema contagious - Dyshidrotic eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema is usually seen to stem from seasonal allergies or even stress. On the other hand, eczema herpeticum is a viral infection that is distributed randomly throughout the body. Like dyshidrotic eczema, eczema herpeticum is not contagious. It manifests itself in the form of itchy blisters accompanied by fever.

Eczema herpeticum is mainly caused by the Herpes simplex virus and can be caused by either type 1 or 2 of the virus.

is eczema contagious - eczema herpeticum

Misconceptions about eczema

There are many half-truths about eczema that have been propagated all over. This is despite the ailment being very common. We are now going to lay the facts bare when it comes to the main untrue beliefs regarding eczema.

  1. Is eczema contagious

Many dermatologists have been asked this question numerous times, “Is eczema contagious?”. Whereas many people believe that all skin diseases can be passed from one person to another through body contact, atopic eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, and eczema herpeticum are not contagious. Nonetheless, they can be inherited, which implies that they can only pass from one person to the other through the transfer of genes.

  1. Food allergies are the cause of eczema

Certain types of foods have been found to trigger eczema. These foods are, for example, eggs, dairy products, and some plant proteins. All the same, this does not mean that these foods cause eczema. In fact, this strongly suggests only a correlation between eczema and food allergies.

  1. Eczema is curable

Inasmuch as many skin ailments can be cured, eczema cannot. The only remedy for eczema is management. Through medical and dietary management, its symptoms may subside and even disappear for months or even years.

  1. Eczema symptoms are similar in all people

This is only a belief but not the truth. Eczema comes with different symptoms in different people. Grown-ups may not have symptoms resembling those of babies. Similarly, different babies may show different signs of eczema.

  1. A leaking gut causes eczema

This is just but a myth. In the case of the leaky gut syndrome, it is the digestive system that leaks in such a way that microbes, toxins, undigested food, or waste find their way into the body. On the other hand, eczema thrives when weak layers of the skin are broken such that the skin is unable to hold moisture. Owing to this skin breakout, the skin is unable to protect the body from toxins, allergens, and irritants.

  1. Eczema breakouts are less in humid climates

Eczema is likely to be triggered by a variety of factors ranging from psychological to environmental. As it was earlier mentioned, some foods act as triggers. It has been established that cold and dry climates cause eczema break out for some people. In other people, it is warm and moist weather that triggers the same.

If you had been asking yourself the same question – is eczema contagious? – You know now that it is not. It can only be transmitted from one person to another by inheriting genes from an individual with the condition. The main misconceptions about eczema, I believe, have also been laid to rest.

Sources and References

  1. HealthDirect Eczema
  2. BetterHealth Channel Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  3. NIH Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

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