Does eczema ever go away?

Does eczema ever go away?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Written by the QV science community.

Girl is itching her hand

Australians have one of the highest incidents of eczema1, yet many have misconceptions around the disease. Eczema, is a common, chronic inflammatory skin disease, with a lifetime prevalence in children of 15-30%, and in adults between 2-10%2.


Does eczema go away? 

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an incurable, lifelong inflammatory skin condition characterised by a dysfunctional skin barrier2. It is most commonly seen in children, impacting approximately 15% to 20% worldwide2. Within the first year of life, about 60% of patients will develop eczema2,3, and 90% within the first 5 years2,3.

For many children eczema can start to go away as they age, they tend to 'outgrow' eczema, with symptoms often resolving by the time they are an adult2. However, some will have persisting symptoms of disease, with 10% to 30% having continuing symptoms2,3.

Having a management plan in place will help reduce the occurrence and severity of eczema, even in later years. 


Everyday management of eczema

Eczema is a disease that can be hard to live with, but it can be managed with the right approaches. Skin hydration is a priority for successful management of eczema4, with frequent use of appropriate moisturisers key to supporting the functional and structural quality of the skin barrier4-6. Daily use of moisturisers should form the foundation of any eczema management plan2

Disease transmission

Is eczema contagious? 

Great news! Another person cannot cause eczema. Eczema is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another7. Close contact with someone with eczema does not lead to its spread, so there is no need to refrain from socialising or isolate oneself during a flare-up.

When the skin barrier becomes weakened due to eczema, moisture escapes and the entry of external irritants or allergens can lead to itchy, dry skin8,9. Due to the itchy nature of eczema and the need to often scratch continuously, the skin can become more vulnerable, making it susceptible to secondary infections3,10. Damaged skin can leave a person more vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungi infections3, and it is these secondary infections that can be contagious.

It can be controlled and remain in remission as long as the skin care routine is adhered to. It's not contagious but the tendency to eczema can be inherited.

Dr. David Wong


Is eczema genetic?  

Research indicates a strong hereditary or genetic link to eczema11,12. There is a theory that inherited mutated genes play a role and contribute to an increased susceptibility to eczema12. It is worth noting that these genetic factors may only become evident when a child is exposed to certain environmental triggers, leading to an eczema flare-up12.


Dealing with eczema symptoms and judgment

It is important to treat flare ups when they occur. Anti-inflammatory treatments, such as topical corticosteroids are recommended for active lesions (but not routinely every day)2. Proper skin care both during, and in-between flare ups with daily skin moisturising can help with dryness and sensitivity. While physical symptoms can be treated, the emotional impact can be trickier to deal with, especially when eczema lesions are highly visible. Some people may feel negatively judged as people with skin conditions, and this can impact on self-esteem and self-perception13. Part of overcoming negative judgment involves educating others about eczema. Where possible explain to others that eczema is not an infection or contagious, it cannot spread from person to person7.

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