Eczema is a skin condition affecting millions of people. It is the cause of physical discomfort, but also sometimes psychological distress. Indeed, there are many misconceptions surrounding this disease, making the daily life of those affected challenging. Among these misconceptions is the belief that eczema is a contagious disease, but what is the reality? This article provides some answers.
Eczema, a common dermatological condition.
Eczema is the second most common dermatosis after acne. There is not one, but several types of eczema: theatopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis), thecontact eczema, theeczema dyshidrotic or even thenummular eczema.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. In France, it affects nearly 2 million people, which is close to 4% of the population. It is characterised by the appearance of itchy red patches with fine vesicles. There are elevations giving the skin a rough texture and oedematous appearance. Furthermore, atopic skin is extremely dry, referred to as cutaneous xerosis.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of multifactorial origin. There is a genetically predisposed atopic tendency that promotes the onset of eczema. Furthermore, studies have highlighted abnormalities affecting the gene coding for filaggrin as well as other molecules necessary for the proper functioning of the stratum corneum, thus causing a dysfunction of the skin barrier.
The prevalence of atopic dermatitis has significantly increased over recent years. The environmental factors (pollution, smoking, dietary habits...) could potentially explain this rise.
Eczema, a stigmatising disease.
Although eczema affects a vast number of people, it remains a disease that is poorly understood by the general public. This lack of understanding fuels misconceptions about this condition, particularly the belief that it is contagious. Individuals affected by eczema suffer both physically and emotionally. This psychological impact is largely due to stigmatisation. Indeed, many patients experience rejection, aggression, harassment, and discrimination.
Eczema, a non-contagious skin condition.
As previously mentioned, many people believe that eczema is a contagious disease. However, these prejudices are unfounded. Indeed, eczema cannot be transmitted through physical contact, whether direct or indirect. Eczema is a multifactorial condition that results from skin inflammation, not an infection. Therefore, eczema cannot be passed from one person to another. Thus, you are not at risk of catching eczema after shaking hands, kissing on the cheek, or exchanging clothes with an affected person.
LEINS L. et ORCHARD D. Eczema management in school-aged children. Australian Family Physician (2017).