No, Eczema Isnt Contagious, but Heres How Secondary Infections Can Be Spread

If you or a loved one suffers from eczema, you’re not alone. According to the National Eczema Association, about 31.6 million people in the United States, or about 10 percent of the U.S. population, have some form of eczema. And, according to the association, eczema tends to be more common in women than men.

“Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can be caused by multiple things,” explains Rachel Prete, DO, a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Florida who treats pediatric patients with eczema. “It’s a dryness of the skin that causes a redness and flaking.”

In addition, having eczema may increase your chances of developing asthma, Prete says. Usually, the inflammatory skin reactions of eczema and asthma are caused by underlying allergens, so the two conditions often appear together, she explains.

Your environment could also be to blame: “The biggest risk factors for eczema are environmental,” says Evan Rieder, MD, a dermatologist at New York University Langone Health in New York City. Dry, cold air or else contact with allergy- producing products like scented skin creams can cause eczema to flare, he explains.

How Eczema Can End up Being Passed on

Eczema itself is not contagious — there’s no way that being around someone with eczema will suddenly cause you to develop that skin condition. However, what is contagious are skin infections.

So how can you tell an infection from regular eczema? Infections are generally tender to the touch, and they may have some wetness and weeping (production of pus), Prete says. If you are concerned you might have gotten a skin infection from someone else, have a doctor check it out, as other conditions such as scabies and ringworm can sometimes look similar to eczema, Prete notes.

A Final Word on Why Eczema Isn’t Contagious

And you can talk with a dermatologist about all the ways to manage eczema, including moisturizing as often as possible and doing your best to lock in that moisture, such as with a fragrance-free cream. Allergy testing can also help you pinpoint some of the triggers of your eczema, Prete notes.

“Daily self-care, using soothing emollients, and regular visits to a board- certified dermatologist can help control this itchy, annoying, and sometimes debilitating condition,” Rieder says.

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