Common Eczema Myths

Eczema is the umbrella term used to describe several inflammatory skin conditions characterized by dryness, itching, scaly patches, and other uncomfortable symptoms. There are several types, including the most common variation: atopic dermatitis. In these cases, your immune system overreacts and triggers a response that causes your skin to become itchy and inflamed.

While millions of people have some form of eczema, it remains misunderstood by many who don’t. Here, we clear up some of the myths surrounding eczema and shed light on the truths behind them.

Seven of the Most Prevalent Eczema Myths

1. Only Children Get It

While it’s true that the majority of people with eczema — up to 80% — will first develop symptoms during early childhood, it is possible to get eczema at any age. Adult-onset eczema appears in people older than 18 who have never had symptoms before, and seems to peak in patients well into their 50s.

2. It’s the Same as Dry Skin

While people with eczema often experience irritating skin dryness, having dry skin doesn’t necessarily mean you have eczema. Dry skin in itself won’t present a rash or inflammation, and typically responds well to moisturizers and other methods of hydration. Eczema, on the other hand, calls for specially formulated creams and other treatments for symptom relief.

3. Eczema Is Contagious

There are plenty of skin conditions that are contagious, but eczema isn’t one of them. Eczema isn’t caused by an infection or illness. If you’re newly diagnosed with eczema or have a family member with the condition, you can rest assured that it can’t be passed through skin-to-skin contact, sharing surfaces, or any other method of transmission.

4. It Goes Away on Its Own

Treating eczema quickly is important if you want to prevent other worse skin complications. Without intervention, your skin will become even itchier and more inflamed, which could eventually lead to problems like open wounds and even bacterial infections. If you have eczema, consult a dermatologist to treat flare-ups as soon as symptoms appear to prevent these issues.

5. It’s Curable

“From topical creams to injections and oral medications, eczema treatments have come a long way over the years,” assures Karen Macolino, LME, ACLP. “There are now more treatments available than ever before.” And yet, eczema remains a chronic condition, meaning there is currently no cure. In addition to over-the-counter and prescription medications, one effective approach to keeping eczema in check is to identify, and then avoid, eczema triggers. These can be different for everyone but could include:

  • Specific foods
  • Allergens such as pet dander or pollen
  • Certain types of microbes
  • Especially hot or cold weather
  • Hormonal changes
  • Irritants such as added fragrances and chemicals (like chlorine in swimming pools)
  • Stress

6. It’s Always Passed Down to Children

Eczema does indeed have a strong genetic component and appears to be passed down through families in many cases. But it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely pass it on to your children if you have it, or even if you and your partner both have it. If both parents have eczema, there’s a 50% chance their children won’t.

7. Stress Causes Eczema

Stress increases cortisol (commonly known as the stress hormone), which can increase inflammation in general. It can therefore cause an eczema flare-up, or make an existing one worse. So, while stress won’t cause eczema in itself, managing your stress effectively could alleviate or prevent symptoms.

If you or a loved one is presenting symptoms of eczema, turn to Olansky Dermatology. In addition to curating specific treatments to fight your troublesome symptoms, we can also help you identify triggers to reduce discomfort. For a personalized care plan designed by our award-winning skin experts, set up an office appointment by calling 404-355-5484, or connect with us online.