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Is Eczema Contagious?

written by: weborglodge • edited by: lrohner • updated: 12/15/2010

Is eczema contagious? Eczema or dermatitis describes an uncomfortable skin swelling characterized by itching. Just seeing someone scratching is liable to make you wonder whether it is catchy. Eczema affects up to 30 percent of the people, according to the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

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    Allergy Connection

    Eczema is also known as dermatitis. Doctors often use the two terms, dermatitis and eczema, interchangeably. Eczema can develop in infancy and is sometimes known as infantile eczema. According to the National Eczema Association, doctors diagnose up to 65 percent of cases in infants before the age of one. The most common type is atopic dermatitis.

    Atopic dermatitis causes dry, itchy skin. People suffering from this type of eczema often have other allergic conditions such as hay fever or asthma. They may have a family member who suffers from these conditions as well, indicating a possible genetic factor. Their skin may also contain high levels of staph bacteria. While this may make you ask is eczema contagious, there is no cause for concern. Neither eczema nor the staph bacteria are infectious. The condition is confined to the sufferer.

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    Types of Eczema

    Symptoms of eczema vary with the type, with all forms causing the characteristic itching and redness to a degree. Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to some type of irritant such as skin care products or wool. It causes redness, skin inflammation and intense itching. Often, just the area of the area of contact is affected, not spreading beyond this site. In these cases, it is obviously not contagious.

    Seborrheic dermatitis primarily affects the scalp, often causing dandruff. It is sometimes called cradle cap in infants. It can also occur on other oily areas of your body such as your face or back. Seborrheic dermatitis causes scaling or crusting of the scalp. It can cause itching and soreness in affected areas.

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    Eczema Treatment

    Is eczema contagious? No, you cannot catch eczema from another person. While the cause of the condition is not known, doctors believe it may indicate an over-reactive immune response to some type of irritant or allergen. The body reacts with the normal immune response, but the response is intensified, causing itching and dry skin.

    The body produces histamine in the inflammatory response to help fight an infection or allergy. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate, while increasing their permeability. These actions cause swelling in body tissues. Histamine also affects the bronchial tubes, causing them to constrict. Histamine release is what is responsible for the symptoms of this common skin condition.

    Eczema treatment includes options to make you more comfortable by decreasing the allergic response. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams and oral anti-histamines may provide some relief. Your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids or antibiotics in severe cases if other eczema medications. The risks of eczema include secondary infections caused by scratching. The best treatment is prevention and avoidance of triggers.

    You can prevent flare-ups by keeping your skin moist with non-allergic skin lotion. You should also avoid contact with substances that may cause a reaction such as harsh chemicals or latex. Stress may trigger reactions in some individuals. Finding ways to reduce stress such as exercise or yoga may help you cope with your eczema symptoms.

    The human body normally regulate itself quite well. Occasionally, the body over-reacts to stimuli in the environment, as is the case with eczema. By taking precautions and following good eczema treatment and prevention techniques, you can live with eczema and avoid its discomforts.