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Is eczema contagious? Causes, complications and treatment tips

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes itching, cracking, dryness and inflammation of the skin. Although eczema itself is not contagious, people with eczema may be more prone to other bacterial, fungal, and viral skin infections.Eczema is a common condition that affects 1 in 10 people in the USA. It usually develops in childhood, although it can affect people of all ages. Although there is no cure, there are treatment options available, depending on the type and severity of your condition.

This article examines how eczema develops and the importance of effective treatment. It also explains how eczema can lead to secondary skin infections that could be contagious.

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There are seven kinds eczema, the most common being atopic dermatitis. However, none of these seven types of eczema are contagious, so you don’t have to worry about eczema spreading from person to person, even in close contact.

People with eczema usually have a predisposition to the disease, which cannot be spread through physical contact of any kind.

Without effective treatment, however, eczema can lead to secondary skin infections that could be contagious. That’s why it’s important to manage the condition and treat your eczema when it shows up.

Eczema infections that could be contagious

According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesAlthough eczema itself is not contagious, people with eczema may be more susceptible to bacterial, viral, and fungal skin conditions.

The skin barrier functions as the body’s barrier first line of defense against harmful germs and bacteria. When this barrier is broken – whether from the eczema itself or as a result of scratching the skin – cracks in the skin can form. This provides an opening for germs and bacteria to enter the body, which can then lead to infections.

Common skin infections include:





Common symptoms of an infection include:

  • redness or pain around the affected area
  • warmth around the affected area
  • oozing of fluid or pus
  • a yellow or orange crust
  • painful blisters, boils, or bumps
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes

Symptoms of a skin infection can vary, but it’s important to see your dermatologist or doctor if you think you might have any type of infection. He will prescribe the appropriate medication, usually an antibiotic, to prevent your infection from spreading or getting worse.

Prevent eczema infections

Although you may be more susceptible to skin infections if you have eczema, there are ways to help prevent eczema infections.

Some Ways to Prevent Eczema Infections include:

  • avoiding triggers to reduce future eczema flare-ups
  • washing hands before and after applying moisturizer or other topical treatment
  • moisturize your skin regularly to reduce eczema flare-ups
  • keep your fingernails short and try to limit scratching your skin to avoid further irritation
  • consult a dermatologist or doctor for the appropriate treatment for your eczema based on its type and severity

In order to prevent eczema infections, it is important that you manage your eczema appropriately to reduce flare-ups and minimize exposure to germs and bacteria.



The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but researchers suggest that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development. Additionally, if you have asthma, hay fever, or food allergies, you may be more likely to develop eczema, according to the

National Eczema Association (NEA).

The NEA lists the following common triggers associated with eczema:

  • dry skin
  • cold and dry air
  • heat and sweat
  • food allergy
  • stress
  • allergens, such as pollen and dust
  • irritating products, such as fabric softeners and harsh or perfumed soaps

Eczema triggers can vary from person to person. What triggers your eczema may not affect someone else in the same way. Therefore, it’s important to figure out your triggers so you can get the right treatment.



Treatment and care tips for eczema

There is currently no cure for eczema. That said, there are ways to treat your eczema flare-ups and take care of your skin to prevent future flare-ups. Identifying that you have eczema and seeking appropriate treatment from a qualified medical professional is the first step in managing your eczema.

Get tips for relieving eczema symptoms here.

Depending on the type and severity of your eczema, your doctor may recommend following treatment options:

  • Prescription topical creams: Topical creams can help prevent flare-ups and manage symptoms associated with eczema, such as inflammation and itching.
  • Prescription injectables: Biological drugs suppress immune reactions to reduce inflammation and accompanying symptoms in moderate to severe eczema.
  • Oral medications: Oral immunosuppressants also inhibit immune reactions. These medications can reduce the symptoms and side effects of eczema, such as skin infections, itching, and inflammation.
  • Phototherapy: UV treatments expose your skin to UV rays to reduce itching and inflammation associated with eczema. Doctors most often use phototherapy to treat generalized eczema.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments: Some over-the-counter treatments can help prevent flare-ups, while others can help reduce the severity of symptoms such as redness or itching. Over-the-counter treatment options may include antihistamines, pain relievers, or topical hydrocortisone.

Your doctor may also recommend that you incorporate certain home treatment and care practices into your routine. These can include:

  • Wet wraps: For moderate to severe eczema, wrap the affected areas with a warm, damp cloth or gauze to add moisture to the skin.
  • Moisturizing: Keep your skin hydrated by using a fragrance-free moisturizer throughout the day and immediately after your bath or shower.
  • Breathable clothing: Wear light, breathable clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk or bamboo.

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy skin. Although not contagious, it can lead to cracks in the skin which could make you more susceptible to bacterial or viral skin infections which could spread to others.

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but there are several known triggers that often lead to flare-ups. There’s also no cure for eczema, but there are treatment options that can help reduce flare-ups, ease your symptoms, and reduce your risk of developing complications that can be contagious.