Eczema Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

A recent survey found that more than 10% of adults could be afflicted by eczema, but there’s still a lot of misinformation floating around about it. Here we’ll discuss some common eczema myths and give you some advice on how to control the condition, in hopes of shedding some light on the issue.

Eczema Myth #1: It’s all the same.

Fact: Eczema is an umbrella term for skin that is itchy, red and irritated. There are several different types of eczema, and while they all may look similar, they’re not quite the same. Atopic dermatitis, which is chronic and inherited, is most common in children. If you or your child suffer from AD, read on for tips on how to keep it under control and consider enrolling in our research study.

As many as 10% of all infants have some form of eczema, the most common being atopic dermatitis (AD).*

About 90% of cases occur before age 5, and symptoms tend to ease up as you get older. Adults are more likely to develop contact dermatitis, which is inflammation that occurs when skin comes in contact with irritating substances such as detergent, fabric softener or other chemicals.

One thing all types of eczema have in common is that irritation occurs when the skin’s protective barrier layer becomes damaged. When that happens, moisture quickly evaporates and skin reacts by developing a rash that is red and itchy.

Eczema Myth #2: It’s caused by stress.

Fact: Stress doesn’t cause eczema, but it certainly doesn’t help matters. Stress can exacerbate the condition because it increases cortisol, which damages skin’s ability to retain water, leading to increased dryness and inflammation. Keep your cortisol levels in check by getting adequate sleep and exercise on a daily basis and by using relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation.

Eczema Myth #3: It’s contagious.

Fact: Eczema is not contagious. However, having eczema does make you more susceptible to bacterial infections that could be contagious because of the damage to the skin’s barrier. If you have eczema and notice any changes like increased redness or oozing, it’s time to call your doctor.

Eczema Myth #4: Go gluten-free to clear it up.

Fact: Unless you have celiac disease or a confirmed gluten sensitivity, there’s no reason for your skin condition to be affected by gluten consumption. And if you find out you do have a gluten intolerance, don’t assume your skin will get better once you cut out the breads and pastas–research on patients with celiac and atopic dermatitis found that going gluten-free for an entire year did not lead to any improvement in their skin.

Eczema Myth #5: All you need to do is take medication.

Fact: Medication can be helpful when treating eczema, but lifestyle changes are just as important. Following these simple tips can help keep the patches at bay:

  • Shower in lukewarm water with a gentle cleanser.
  • Gently pat skin dry (never rub).
  • Moisturize regularly (the thicker the moisturizer the better).
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather.
  • Wear cotton or soft fabrics (rough, scratchy fibers and tight clothing can irritate skin).

Identifying and avoiding your triggers is also important. Some common triggers include allergens like pollen, mold, pets and dust mites; irritants like soaps and detergents; contact with juices from fresh fruits, vegetables and meats; hot weather, high or low humidity and rapid changes of temperature; and physical activity that makes causes excessive perspiration.

Source: Understanding the Different Types of Eczema, National Eczema Association

Participate in a Research Study

Austin area residents: are you or someone you know struggling with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, or rosacea? Participating in a research study provides an opportunity to be involved in the process of discovering new treatments while receiving compensation for time and travel. Inquire about eligibility by calling DermResearch at 512-349-0500 or view our current studies.