How to treat eczema

Atopic eczema is a very common skin disorder that affects around 1 in 9 people in the UK at some point in their lives. Those who experience eczema are likely to suffer from dry and cracked skin.

Tagged: Body & Breast

Is eczema contagious?

Those who suffer from the condition, as well as those around them, may have concerns and wonder is eczema contagious. Eczema is an extremely common skin disorder and affects around 11% of the UK population. The typical symptoms that people have include dry skin which can crack. There is likely to be discomfort from itching and people may have areas of their skin that appear red and scaly. It is also possible for blisters to form and bleeding to occur.

There are several forms of eczema such as discoid, contact dermatitis, and seborrhoeic, but the most common form of the skin disorder is atopic eczema. A specialist dermatologist is able to diagnose your eczema and distinguish between the different forms so that the appropriate treatments can be identified. Typically eczema will affect the hands, inside of the elbow, behind the knees, faces, and scalps. When diagnosed with eczema many are left considering how they developed it in the first place.

What is the main cause of eczema?

When trying to identify the cause of the disorder, sufferers give thought to their families, or future families and will often ask “Is eczema genetic?”, they also seek out the main cause so that they can better manage their condition. In truth, with eczema, there is no single factor that causes the condition. The physical symptoms come about because the skin is unable to retain moisture, but what leads to this happening in the first place is down to a combination of factors. 

If considering is eczema contagious it is important to realise that there is a link between the disorder and certain allergies. Research suggests that those who suffer from allergies, and particularly those with asthma or hay fever, are far more prone to developing eczema. As part of a consultation, your medical history and other conditions will be discussed before a treatment plan is devised. It is also important to note that there are certain triggers that, although not the root cause of eczema, can lead to flare-ups. 

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Is eczema genetic?

Knowing the answer to “Is eczema genetic?”, can allow people to consider if they are at risk of developing the skin disorder themselves or if any children are likely to. The most common form of eczema (atopic) tends to surface very early on in a child’s life and symptoms are often displayed before a first birthday. Research does suggest that there is a genetic link and that eczema is hereditary. If a child has 1 or both parents with eczema, or a sibling that has the condition, then that child is far more likely to develop eczema themselves. 

Studies into the genes that are responsible for eczema have shown that mutations in the CARD11 and FLG genes are significant to the disorder. People with the CARD11 gene mutation will go onto develop eczema. Those who have the FLG mutation are at high risk of developing it, but the mutation itself does not cause it.  It is worthy to note that not everyone who has eczema will have these gene mutations. 

Is eczema caused by stress?

When considering “Is eczema contagious?”, it is important to look at risk factors and causes of the disorder. One common question that arises relates to stress and the role that it may play in eczema. Stress is not a cause of eczema but if you already have the condition then feeling stressed can lead to a flare-up. This is because when people are under stress the body releases a hormone called cortisol. When too much cortisol is released it can cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation to the skin will often trigger an outbreak of eczema. 

So while stress itself is not a cause of eczema it is certainly a trigger. There are a number of triggers that those with eczema should be aware of and these include:

  • Irritants such as soaps and detergents
  • Pollen
  • Food allergies
  • Clothes made from certain materials
  • Weather conditions
  • Pet fur

There are a number of other triggers that can cause eczema to flare. Not every trigger will affect every person who has the condition and a specialist can discuss the factors that may contribute to your eczema individually.

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How do you stop eczema from spreading?

By considering the question “Is eczema contagious?” people are often concerned about spreading it from one part of their body to another. As we have seen, certain parts of the body usually display visible signs of eczema, but it is possible for people to experience small patches or to have a widespread flare-up that affects more of the body. Part of controlling an eczema flare-up is ensuring that a dermatologist is consulted and that you have been prescribed the most appropriate treatment. The treatments available for eczema include:

  • Emollients
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines 

Alongside any treatments that can be prescribed by the Cadogan Clinic, there are also steps that can be taken by sufferers themselves to help control a flare-up from worsening. Some of the steps that can be taken are:

  • Resist the urge to scratch as this will lead to more inflammation
  • Consider mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety levels
  • Ensure you keep your house clean as dust may contain allergens that are a trigger
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes 

Is eczema contagious by touching?

Despite the concern of some, eczema is not contagious by touching. Even when a person is experiencing a flare-up and there is a visible rash or dry patches, it can not be passed on to anyone else. If someone develops symptoms after touching someone with eczema then it is important to consult a dermatologist so that the condition can be diagnosed. It will not be eczema.

Whilst eczema itself is not contagious, there is a chance of infections because of cracks that can appear in the skin. When there are open wounds it is possible to be infected by viruses such as herpes simplex, bacteria such as staphylococci, and fungi such as candid. These infections can be passed on and that is why it is vital to follow an effective treatment plan that prevents these from occurring. 

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Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that appears as a dry skin rash, often with red and scaly symptoms. An estimated one in every nine people in the UK have been diagnosed with eczema at some point in their lives.

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