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Skin conditions can be itchy, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. If you have eczema, the redness, irritation, and bumps can leave you wondering: Is eczema contagious? And will it ever go away?
It’s no secret that living with this skin condition is challenging. And sometimes the lack of knowledge about it makes it even more difficult.
At Bodewell, we want you to live a more fulfilling life without being limited by skin conditions. In this article, we answer all of your questions about eczema as we discuss what you need to know about caring for your skin.
What Is Eczema?
We can’t begin to answer the question “Is eczema contagious?” without defining the condition first.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition. Depending on the type of eczema you have, your skin can appear inflamed, itchy, dry, red, or bumpy.
Eczema can occur at any age and can flare up at different times. This means that you might have phases when your skin is irritated and other periods when you have no symptoms at all.
Lastly, while it is treatable, eczema is chronic and there is currently no known cure for it.
We mentioned them briefly above, but eczema symptoms can often vary from one person to another. There are also different types of eczema (which we’ll cover shortly), each with its own common characteristics.
With this in mind, here’s a look at a wide range of symptoms you might experience:
- Itchy skin that can become more severe at night
- Dry skin
- Cracked, thickened, scaly skin
- Red (and sometimes brownish) skin patches on different areas of the body, but most commonly on the neck, hands, wrists, feet, upper chest, elbows, knees, and ankles (for infants, symptoms may show on the face and scalp area)
- Skin may become raw, swollen, and sensitive due to scratching
- Small bumps may appear and leak fluid when scratched
Different Types Of Eczema
Understanding the type of eczema you have can help you get the best treatment for it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types and the triggers that can cause flare-ups.
Around 16.5 million Americans have atopic dermatitis. This makes it the most common form of eczema. Family history plays a role in a person developing it, but it has also been linked to allergic disorders such as hay fever and asthma.
Children often outgrow atopic dermatitis. However, if a person doesn’t outgrow it, it usually appears on and off in adulthood.
This form of eczema is much less common, but the symptoms of it are a lot more severe. You might get blisters on the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, or the sides of your fingers.
Irritants such as metals and sweat can trigger dyshidrotic eczema.
We often link this form of eczema to other skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. It is usually associated with scaly, greasy patches (particularly on the scalp), and it often occurs in those with a large amount of Malassezia yeast.
The good news is that babies tend to outgrow it. However, if you develop this condition as an adult, it is usually triggered by dry weather conditions, stress, or harsh chemicals or soaps.
Contact dermatitis tends to run in families and goes hand in hand with hay fever, asthma, and atopic dermatitis.
As the name suggests, this type of eczema often flares up when your skin comes in contact with a trigger, which can cause an allergic reaction or irritation.
Contact dermatitis can appear in two forms: allergic dermatitis and irritant dermatitis.
Allergic dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with anything that causes an allergic reaction. Triggers can vary, but the most common are:
- Fragrances and beauty products
- Poison ivy
- Sun exposure
Irritant dermatitis is more common than allergic dermatitis. Soaps, detergents, chemicals, and skincare products are some examples of everyday products that can irritate your skin and cause this type of reaction.
Triggers for nummular eczema include irritants, stress, and changes in the temperature. It is also common to develop it if atopic dermatitis runs in the family, as well as asthma or other allergies.
Neurodermatitis often shows up on the neck, arms, or legs and can be intensely itchy. People with very dry skin can develop it, as well as those who have another form of eczema.
Neurodermatitis has also been linked to mental health issues like OCD and anxiety disorder, as these can be triggers.
Causes Of Eczema
We mentioned genetics pretty extensively, but just as a quick recap: People with a family history of dermatitis, hay fever, asthma, or allergens are more likely to develop eczema.
We can break stress into two categories: mental or emotional (e.g., depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, etc.) and physical (e.g., aches and pains, muscle tension, sleeping too much or too little).
This stress on your body can create a physical response, like eczema.
The Immune System
When you have eczema, your immune system can overreact to even the smallest of allergens or irritants and cause your skin to flare up.
Harsh soaps, smoking, fabrics like wool, and air pollutants are common causes of eczema flare-ups. In addition, dry weather can cause your skin to become dry and itchy, while high humidity may cause sweat and trigger itchiness.
Is Eczema Contagious?
Now that we’ve gone over the causes and triggers, we can easily say that eczema isn’t contagious. No form mentioned above can be spread to another person (except through genetic factors).
Having said that, if your skin flares up and becomes infected, the infection itself can be contagious. This makes finding the right treatment for your skin very important.
Let’s look at a breakdown of what to know about treating your eczema.
1) Get A Diagnosis
You want to get a confirmed diagnosis as soon as possible from your doctor so you know what you’re dealing with and how best to move forward.
During your appointment, ask questions about the symptoms you’ve noticed, any triggers, and how you can calm your irritated skin. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the type of eczema you have, your doctor may prescribe medication.
2) Identify The Triggers
It’s important to avoid any known irritants that could aggravate your eczema symptoms, but to avoid them, you must first know what they are.
We recommend keeping a journal that includes when your skin is irritated and what you’ve come in contact with that day.
For example, personal and household products can contain chemicals that cause your skin to itch, burn, and become dry and red. These chemicals could be in anything from shampoos and hand soaps to laundry and dish detergents.
In addition, if your skin is prone to dryness, it can become tight, rough, scaly, and lead to a flare-up.
Lastly, learn how to manage stress well to keep your body from triggering an eczema-related response.
3) Keep Your Skin Moisturized
It’s essential to keep your skin’s moisture barrier intact, as this can help your eczema symptoms subside. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use moisturizers that help hydrate your skin.
After taking a bath or shower with lukewarm water, moisturize immediately to prevent your skin from drying out. Use our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash to gently lock in moisture.
For ultimate skin protection and hydration, our Eczema Daily Calming Cream is formulated with lots of important natural ingredients, including colloidal oatmeal, which can help reduce eczema symptoms.
4) Make Dietary Changes
Every body is different, but here are some common foods are associated with eczema flare-ups:
- Cow’s milk
- Soy products
On the other hand, the following foods can help reduce eczema symptoms, so including them in your diet is a great idea:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats (e.g., olive oil)
- Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., salmon)
Take It One Day At A Time
Is eczema contagious? No. But living with the condition can be challenging. Having dry, red, itchy, or flaky skin can adversely affect your life.
As soon as your doctor confirms your diagnosis, arm yourself with as much information about it as possible. Learn what triggers to avoid, make necessary dietary changes, and switch up some of your soaps to ease the symptoms.
Our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash is formulated to lock in moisture and is gentle on the skin. After using this soothing wash, apply our Eczema Daily Calming Cream to relieve itch and irritation and leave your skin feeling soft and moisturized.
With the above tips and Bodewell skincare products, you can skillfully manage even the most difficult eczema type and live the happy and fulfilling life you deserve — free from the limitations of eczema.