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The Truth Behind Eczema Myths

Learning the facts about eczema will help you protect and treat your baby’s skin

By Today's Parent
The Truth Behind Eczema Myths
Created forDr. Chase Pediatrics logo

Who doesn’t love the delicious scent and super-soft skin of a newborn? It’s almost enough to make you forget childbirth and start planning your next bundle of joy. But caring for that ultra-sensitive skin requires special attention1—and when eczema symptoms like redness, dryness or a bumpy rash appear on your baby’s skin, it’s natural to feel worried. There are a lot of commonly held myths about eczema that can cause confusion. Rest easy as we dispel these myths and offer tips for treating your baby’s eczema.

Myth: Eczema is contagious

Eczema is not contagious. You can't catch it or pass it to someone else. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers do know that people develop it as the result of an interaction between their genes and environmental triggers.2

Myth: Eczema is caused by allergies to food

While eczema tends to run in families with a predisposition to other atopic diseases, such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever3, none of these causes eczema4, says Joshua Abraham, pharmacist and Director of Quality Assurance at Dr. Chase Pediatrics. “Certain foods may contribute to an acute flare-up of eczema, though,” he adds. So while you might notice that certain foods exacerbate your child’s eczema, it’s important not to automatically limit foods as they may not be the problem. Consult your doctor about your child’s clinical history before trying an elimination diet.

Myth: Eczema only occurs in children

Eczema is a hereditary and chronic skin disorder, most commonly seen in infants or very young children but it doesn’t just disappear when kids turn 18. “In infants, the first symptoms start to appear between two and six months after birth,” says Abraham, and eczema usually shows up before kids turn five.5

“Symptoms often include dry rough skin, redness or itchy rashes around the face, forehead, ears, neck and head. Eczema can also affect elbows and knees and can spread to the entire body.” While many children outgrow eczema, for some it can last well into adolescence and adulthood.6

Myth: Eczema is caused by stress

Anxiety and stress are common triggers for eczema flare-ups7 but they do not actually cause eczema. Stress causes a spike in the hormone cortisol, which then suppresses the immune system and increases inflammation. And inflammation exacerbates eczema symptoms.

Myth: Cortisone resolves eczema

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While cortisone, a medication often used as a topical treatment for skin rashes, may help with the itchiness that comes with eczema, it doesn’t get rid of the condition itself. “Many of the non-natural approaches to the treatment of skin conditions, such as using cortisone, just focus on the inflammation aspects and ignore the bigger picture,” says Abraham. “While anti-inflammatory drugs may help get the condition under control, excessive use may impair the skin’s ability to function properly, causing new problems.”

Choosing a natural product, like Dr. Chase X-ZEMA, can relieve the irritation caused by your baby’s eczema symptoms, without harsh ingredients, fragrances, parabens or allergens.

Fact: Protecting the skin barrier improves eczema symptoms

Protecting your child’s delicate skin barrier helps with eczema and other skin issues.8 “The integrity of the skin barrier is vital as it protects us against chemicals, pathogens and other irritants found in our environment,” says Abraham. “These same irritants may cause a flare-up of an existing eczema condition, which then creates increased sensitivity to the irritants. This can potentially lead to a worsening of the condition.”

Using colloidal oatmeal in a product like X-ZEMA is a proven way to protect the skin barrier.9 “Studies show that colloidal oatmeal, a natural product with proven barrier protection, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, can help with eczema symptoms,” affirms Abraham.

“We know what a big responsibility it is to have and raise kids, as childhood experiences affect their entire lives,” says Abraham. “The same applies to our bodies; using harsh chemicals or drugs on newborns can cause lifelong issues. Therefore, taking a more gentle and natural approach, when possible, is always advised.”

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Learn more at  DrChasePediatrics.ca.

References

    1. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Newborn Skin 101, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/newborn-skin-101

    2. D. Luschkova, K. Zeiser, A. Ludwig and C. Traidl-Hoffmann, “Atopic eczema is an environmental disease,” Allergologie Select 5 (Aug 23, 2021): 244-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8383845/

    3. J.A. MacLean, F.J. Eidelman, “The Genetics of Atopy and Atopic Eczema,” Archives of Dermatological Research 137, no. 11 (2001): 1474–76. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478577

    4. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), “Eczema and Food Allergy—Fast Facts,” https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts/eczema-and-food-allergy#:~:text=People%20with%20eczema%20often%20have,redness%2C%20itching%20and%20sometimes%20infections

    5. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Eczema,” https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/skin-allergy/eczema/

    6. Cleveland Clinic, “Eczema,” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9998-eczema#:~:text=Eczema%20can%20affect%20anyone%20at,Dermatitis

    7. Pfizer, “Eczema and Stress: What's the Link?,” https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/eczema_and_stress_what_s_the_link#:~:text=Anxiety%20and%20depression%20can%20be,leading%20to%20more%20eczema%20exacerbations

    8. B.E. Kim, D.Y.M. Leung, “Significance of Skin Barrier Dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis,” Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research 10, no. 3 (May 2018): 207-15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5911439/

    9. M. Sobhan, et al. “The Efficacy of Colloidal Oatmeal Cream 1% as Add-on Therapy in the Management of Chronic Irritant Hand Eczema: A Double-Blind Study.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 13 (March 25, 2020): 241-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7103792/#:~:text=Conclusion,patients%20with%20chronic%20irritant%20HE

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