Get the facts — and the latest research — on the safety and risks of cutting out foods from your diet to help treat atopic dermatitis.
Published On: Jul 7, 2017
Last Updated On: Jul 27, 2023
Let’s test your knowledge about eczema with a game of true or false. We spoke with Dr. Paul Yamauchi, a dermatologist at the Dermatology Institute and Skin Care Center in Santa Monica, California, and Dr. Jonathan Spergel, an allergist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to help us get to the bottom of various eczema myths.
“One of the most common concerns is that eczema is contagious,” said Dr. Spergel. “People] see a rash and wonder if it’s an infection, and the answer is no. It’s not contagious at all.”
“Another misperception is that eczema is not serious,” said Dr. Yamauchi. “That’s not true because people with eczema have a lot of quality-of-life issues. While eczema is not life-threatening, there is a considerable psychological impact. It’s itchy, it’s painful and it’s not just a skin condition.”
“When people realize it’s an inflammatory condition more or less from an allergy, they begin to wonder, ‘Well, what am I allergic to? What do I need to stop eating or stop being around to get my eczema under control?’” said Dr. Spergel. “But it’s more about taking proper care of your skin.”
While food allergies are a comorbid condition of eczema, elimination diets or eliminating foods that you believe will trigger an allergic response won’t necessarily eliminate your eczema, Dr. Yamauchi added.
“Yet another misconception is that if you have eczema, you shouldn’t swim,” said Dr. Yamauchi. “With eczema, you can swim in chlorinated pools as long as you do it within reason. The trick is to wash off the chlorine with fresh water and immediately remoisturize and then apply sunblock.”
While there is not yet a cure for eczema, we are not forever doomed. Clinical researchers like Dr. Yamauchi are making tremendous strides in identifying safe and effective treatments for eczema, particularly atopic dermatitis.
“There are new kinds of creams that are being developed that target the neuropathways in the skin to minimize itching,” said Dr. Yamauchi. “A few companies are working on that. Other companies are working on new pills to treat eczema. And new biologics are being developed that will be safer to use for the long term compared to methotrexate.”
If scientists can pinpoint the behaviors of eczema at a molecular level, this means they are on track to learning how to prevent the body from experiencing an inflammatory response, and better yet, how to prevent eczema from developing in the first place.