Eczema can be an upsetting, painful and very common skin condition – it’s estimated that up to 10% of children will experience it, but the majority of them (75%) “grow out of it” by their teens.
That said, it’s not exclusive to childhood.
One in five women develop hand or face eczema as a result of a reaction to a product or ingredient – and it’s most common over the age of 30.
The word eczema originates from the Greek meaning, “to boil over”. It’s an inflammatory condition of the skin that presents itself in forms that vary in severity.
Symptoms of eczema include red, inflamed skin that is dry and has a tendency to blister and weep.
Sufferers often find that their skin becomes itchy and flaky because it is unable to retain much moisture.
The most common areas affected are elbows, behind the knees, the fronts of the ankles and on the hands, wrists, or neck.
Despite being a commonplace condition, there are many old wives’ tales bandied around about eczema.
Today I’m separating fact from fiction and exposing the most common, or ridiculous, urban myths I’ve come across – to date!
1. Eczema is contagious.
Eczema is not contagious. You simply can’t ‘catch’ an autoimmune condition from another person, let alone give it to someone else by touching him or her!
However, eczema can be inherited. If you have a family history of allergic conditions, like hay fever or asthma, it’s not unusual to also suffer from eczema.
2. Eczema is a sign of poor hygiene.
Personal hygiene has nothing to do with eczema. The reality is often quite the opposite; many sufferers tend to wash excessively and over-cleanse affected areas of their skin, in an attempt to bring some relief from the itching or irritation.
Unfortunately, this response often makes the condition worse, as the skin’s precious natural oils are stripped away, leaving it with even less protection.
A mixture of environmental, genetic and immunity factors cause eczema. Known triggers include stress, hormonal changes, exposure to irritants in certain soaps or detergents and wearing certain materials close to the skin, such as wool or synthetic fabric.
If you’re suffering from eczema and trying to detect its cause, this trigger chart may help.
3. Eczema has nothing to do with your diet.
Untrue! Like many other skin conditions, eczema can be seriously influenced by your diet. As an autoimmune inflammatory condition, it is frequently activated by particular foods.
Dairy and refined sugar are very common dietary triggers that that can cause inflammation in the body and a subsequent eczema flare-up.
Avoiding excess meat and highly acidic foods is also recommended – you may see an improvement in your condition.
Have you heard any mind-boggling eczema stories? Pop them into the comments below; I’d love to hear some of the more weird and wonderful myths out there!