What Is Eczema?
The word eczema means irritated skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and is also referred to as dermatitis. Eczema typically appears as itchy skin, and it can look different on different people. The AAD states that eczema can present as red bumps, dry skin, itchy skin, oozing skin, and more.
You may hear eczema referred to as “the itch that rashes” because according to many skin care experts it often begins with itching, and scratching that itch causes the irritation to spread.
What Causes Eczema?
According to the AAD, doctors aren’t sure why some individuals end up with eczema while others don’t, but there are some theories. Factors such as eczema running in your family, asthma, allergies, and living in a polluted climate could contribute to experiencing incidents of eczema. Moreover, eczema isn’t always active, meaning eczema can be dormant but appear on the skin’s surface when triggered by certain things. Some common triggers, per the AAD, include licks from a pet, scratchy clothes (like wooly winter sweaters), excessive sweating, harsh soaps and detergents, certain cosmetics, cleaning products, and dust.
If you have eczema, you don’t have to worry that you’ll give it to a friend—it’s not contagious. The National Eczema Association backs this up, confirming that eczema is not something that can be caught.