10 Eczema Myths That Just Won't Go Away
Ashley Wall | April 27, 2018
Eczema has a bad reputation. It’s time to clear a few things up. Here are some of the most common myths I’ve heard in my years living with eczema.
Myth 1: Eczema is contagious
As much as I’d like to claim the Cootie Queen title, eczema is not contagious. I repeat, eczema is not contagious. This skin condition cannot be passed by touching another person or via any type of skin-to-skin contact. Researchers say most types of eczema are caused by a combo of genetics and a trigger, like an environmental irritant or stress.
Myth 2: Everyone will outgrow eczema
This myth hits home a little bit, as I was told this as a child. Now I will say that there are some children who are fortunate enough to outgrow eczema. Or, they are able to avoid flare-ups for years, giving the illusion that they outgrew it. This of course depends on how severe their eczema was to begin with. However, to say that all children outgrow eczema is a myth. I, as well as millions of people around the world can tell you that our eczema is here to stay.
Myth 3: Topical steroids are completely safe
When I hear the word frenemy, I think of topical steroids. Frenemy is slang for a friend who also is an enemy. Topical steroids are not safe for long-term use. They are a temporary fix (for some) for a long-term problem. If you are prescribed topical steroids you must follow proper instructions. It’s also crucial to keep an open dialogue with your doctor about when to wean yourself off them. As someone who has been on them for well over 20 years, I can attest to the damage of long-term use.
Myth 4: Eczema is always caused by what you’re eating
Many factors play into eczema, as each and every case is different. For some, certain foods may trigger their skin to flare up. If your lifestyle includes horrible eating habits, this will surely affect your skin. However, eczema has additional internal and external triggers that are out of our control. Some include; the weather, certain fabrics, perfumes, pollen, and your digestive system. I can have the cleanest diet, but if I come into contact with cashmere or stay in a room covered in dust mites, it’s a wrap for my skin.
Myth 5: There is a cure for eczema
For the sake of my sanity I would hope there isn’t a cure for eczema that I’ve missed. There are lots of claims that doing [insert said thing] will cure your eczema. Now, those with an extremely mild case of eczema may have found a reputable way to suppress their triggers. For the millions of us with moderate-to-severe eczema, we’re in this for the long haul until the day they announce a 100 percent curable/preventable solution.
Myth 6: One size fits all when it comes to eczema treatment
The good, the bad, and the ugly about eczema is that it does not discriminate! This lovely skin condition is completely different for each and every person affected by it. So each case has to be treated as such. From mild to severe and from dyshidrotic eczema to atopic dermatitis, eczema has found a comfortable position in being the world’s most complex jigsaw puzzle.
Myth 7: Showering every day will trigger your eczema
Let’s be honest, we each lead different lives. Some of us are extremely active and others maybe not so much. Either way, we know our bodies well enough to know if we need to shower or not. While standing in a piping hot shower for over an hour is not ideal, a quick lukewarm shower is. Hot water increases skin blood flow which causes red itchy skin. A lukewarm or cool shower will help reduce skin blood flow and relieve itchiness.
Myth 8: Your eczema must be caused by dehydration
If this were the case, I would have installed a freshwater reservoir in my backyard. Sadly, it’s not. While it is crucial to stay hydrated at all times (especially if you have eczema), it’s not likely to go away. Severe eczema is based on internal chronic inflammation, as our bodies go into protection mode to fight foreign substances. While water is wonderful, drinking gallons of it won’t cure your eczema.
Myth 9: You should constantly moisturize if you have eczema
Over-moisturizing can do more harm than good. When too much moisture is applied, you could actually compromise the skin barrier. If that happens, your skin will become even more irritated to allergens, increase its water loss, and become more dependent on moisture. Over-moisturizing confuses the skin’s naturally producing oils and can lead it to stop producing altogether. Which has the opposite effect of what you were going for in the first place.
Myth 10: Keep your nails short to prevent scratching
As an official scratchaholic, I can attest this is simply not true. I remember wearing cotton gloves at night only for them to be thrown halfway across my room as I scratched throughout my sleep. You can strap me down on a gurney and I’ll find a way to scratch my way out. If your skin is itchy, you will literally find anything to scratch it with. The corner of a door, folded up pieces of paper, sharp objects, and the list goes on. Our skin has a mind of its own and we’ll find a way to relieve that itch until we manage to get it under control.