Saturday, October 17, 2009
One of the most common questions asked by people who have concerns about the eczema skin condition is “Is eczema contagious?” The short answer is “No”. I think I had mentioned this issue in one of my earlier posts about skin eczema because I had the same thoughts in my mind…since eczema is officially classified as a “skin disease”, when most people hear the word “disease”, they’re immediately thinking about whether or not it’s contagious, but I’m happy to report to all non-eczema-sufferers that you have nothing to worry about; you can’t “catch” eczema from someone who has it. Eczema is definitely a troublesome thing to the person who suffers with it, however; for the uninitiated, I’ll just break it down a little as far as what eczema is, and what it’s not: Basically, eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is an inflammation of the skin that shows itself in the form of rash outbreaks or itchy, dry, or even cracked and crusty skin. It normally shows up in “patches” on different areas of the body, but is primarily found near the “flexural” areas of the body, which is basically a fancy way to say any area where something flexes or bends, such as the knees, elbows, upper thighs near the groin, etc. Many people have dealt with patches of eczema on the back area, and other places like that as well. It is most commonly believed to be linked to some type of autoimmune dysfunction that causes the skin to overreact to perceived environmental or internal threats. I hope I’m right about that last statement…it’s basically a conglomeration of the different research I’ve done so far, but I do believe it to be accurate. Again, eczema is related to other inflammatory conditions such as hay fever or athsma. One of the treatments for eczema is actually very similar to what is given for asthma sufferers, which is a type of steroid to reduce inflammation. You know, for a long time I never understood why athletes wanted to use steroids because I didn’t understand the physiology behind it, but now that I’ve been studying these things, it makes a whole lot more sense. Basically, when a muscle is being overworked, it begins to get inflamed, and the inflammation reduces the performance potential of that muscle, because it can end up being fatigued. When you take steroids, it reduces the inflammation, thereby giving your muscles an almost “superhuman” endurance, allowing them to perform for sustained amounts of time without falling victim to inflammation as easily. Well, this translates over into treatments for other skin conditions or any type of inflammatory problem; many people take steroid-based drugs to prevent inflammation for such conditions as golfer’s elbow, or asthma, or any other thing where basically swelling and inflammation need to be reduced. It’s all making a whole lot more sense to me now, since I’ve started doing these studies on eczema and so forth. As far as causes go, nobody is fully aware of what the root cause is, although one major speculative suspect is stress and anxiety. I can personally attest to this (and if you read any of my past posts I talk even more about this in detail), because I had no issues whatsoever with eczema, and never even had it until I was about 25 years old and working for a boss that stressed me out to the absolute max. Only then did all of the skin rashes and outbreaks start appearing that eventually became eczema. I have since gotten WAY better, and I’m still going to talk more about that once I “assemble my case” a little better. But anyway, as for the question “Is eczema contagious?”, based on all the research I’ve done (which has been quite a bit), no medical evidence points in that direction.