Let’s test your knowledge about eczema with a rousing game of true or false. Doctors Paul Yamauchi and Jonathan Spergel — who are both members of the National Eczema Association’s Scientific Advisory Committee — will serve as our resident eczema “myth busters.”
Eczema is contagious and can spread to others through physical contact.
“One of the most common concerns that exist in the lay public is that it is contagious. They see a rash and wonder if it’s an infection, and the answer is no. It’s not contagious at all,” Spergel said.
It’s just a skin problem. It’s no big deal.
“Another misperception is that it’s not serious,” said 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.”
If I stop eating this or that, my eczema will go away.
“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?’” Spergel said. “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, Yamauchi added.
“Yet another misconception is that if you get eczema, you shouldn’t swim. With eczema, you can swim in chlorinated pools as long as you do it within reason,” Yamauchi said. The trick is to wash off the chlorine with fresh water and immediately remoisturize and then apply sunblock.
There is no cure, and we are doomed forever.
While there is not yet a cure for eczema, we are not forever doomed. Clinical researchers like Yamauchi are making tremendous strides in identifying safe and effective treatments for eczema, particularly AD.
“There are new kinds of creams that are being developed that target the neuropathways in the skin to minimize itching. 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 com- pared to methotrexate,” Yamauchi said.
If scientists can pinpoint the behaviors of this disease 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.