Around 16.5 million adults in the U.S. have eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. And of those, 6.6 million have moderate-to-severe eczema. But despite such a large number of people with eczema, it’s still widely misunderstood.
October is National Eczema Awareness Month. We can work together to spread eczema awareness and understanding. Here is some information about eczema you can share.
1. Eczema is not just “dry skin.” It is so much more than that. It is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Symptoms include an itchy, scaly, red rash that can appear on the face, hands, arms, legs and other parts of the body. The rash can be widespread.
Eczema is linked to dry skin, but its symptoms can cause pain, physical discomfort and sleep issues. It can have a significant social and emotional impact on people who have it and their caregivers.
2. Eczema is not contagious. This is a common misconception. It is the result of an immune response. You can’t catch it by being around someone with eczema. But it can be hereditary. That means if someone in your family has eczema, asthma or allergies – like a parent, grandparent or sibling – you could have it too.
3. Eczema can be triggered by more than just allergens. There are many substances that can trigger eczema. They can be different for everyone. But the most common triggers are:
- Allergens – dust mites, pollen, pet dander
- Soaps and cleaners
- Metals – nickel (jewelry, cellphones, belt buckles, etc.)
- Rubber (latex gloves, elastic waistbands, balloons, etc.)
- Perfumes, dyes and other fragrances
- Formaldehyde (nail products, disinfectants and some clothing)
4. Eczema is related to asthma and allergies. Asthma, allergies and eczema are all allergic diseases. Many people have more than one of these conditions. They all involve responses of the immune system.
They are also part of a natural progression of allergic diseases called the allergic march. It is also sometimes called the atopic march. The allergic march tends to start with dry skin and then moves to eczema, food allergies, nasal allergies (rhinitis) and then asthma.
Protecting a baby’s skin with moisturizers or ointments from birth may reduce the risk of eczema.
5. Eczema can be treated. There are several treatment options available. But eczema is a very individual disease. If you have eczema, work with your doctor to find the best combination of treatment to help relieve pain and itching and improve your quality of life.
Here are some available treatments:
- Over-the-counter moisturizers and barriers
- Over-the-counter medicines and products like topical hydrocortisone
- Over-the-counter antihistamines
- Prescription oral or topical corticosteroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs)
- Antibiotics for skin infections
- Phototherapy (ultraviolet light)
- Biologics – Dupilumab (DUPIXENT®) is the only biologic currently available to treat eczema
We're in This Together
Eczema is not a condition you have to face alone. Our online community is for people to share and learn together in an encouraging and supportive environment. Join our free community to connect with others, keep up-to-date on news and research, and to learn ways to best manage your conditions. We can overcome eczema better together.