What Causes Eczema to Spread?

By: Dr. Jeffrey Hsu


Eczema (atopic dermatitis) causes our skin to become itchy, red, and inflamed due to genetic and environmental factors. Though it is not contagious, rashes can spread to different areas of the body and may worsen over time.

Treatments like prescription creams can control eczema symptoms and prevent them from impacting your quality of life. A board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Jeffrey T.S. Hsu is one of your best resources for properly diagnosing and managing atopic dermatitis long-term.

Call Oak Dermatology in Naperville, Itasca, or Joliet, IL to schedule a skin assessment and learn how we help get your eczema under control. Here's what you should know about this uncomfortable condition and how it spreads.

What triggers eczema?

The outermost layer of skin protects us from the outside world and prevents bacteria from causing serious health issues. But when that barrier is weakened, we are more susceptible to developing atopic dermatitis. This barrier can be weakened by genetics, environmental factors, or both – leading to dry and itchy skin that spreads throughout the body.

Eczema could be the result of an allergy or an overactive immune system. It is aggravated by common irritants like soaps, detergents, fragrances, and known scratchy fabrics like wool. Extreme temperatures and smoke can also trigger eczema symptoms. People with eczema do find ways to avoid personal triggers, but sometimes rashes still occur.

How does eczema spread?

Eczema itself is not contagious, but the rashes can spread to different areas, including the hands, face, and neck. This is because the skin barrier is already compromised, making it more susceptible to inflammation. If you have eczema, it's important to avoid scratching to prevent further spread and complications like infection.

Atopic dermatitis can be a chronic condition that comes and goes throughout a person’s life. It is common in childhood but can persist into adulthood. In some cases, the rash will go away and never come back. However, eczema can also get worse over time – leading to a more constant and severe rash.

How is eczema treated?

Eczema cannot be cured, but treatments from a trained and board-certified dermatologist can control symptoms and prevent them from spreading. Dr. Hsu will need to perform a skin assessment to rule out other conditions and properly diagnose atopic dermatitis.

Once an eczema diagnosis is made, Dr. Hsu can come up with a treatment plan that helps meet your symptoms and health goals. This may include over-the-counter moisturizers, hydrocortisone creams, and antihistamines like Benadryl. Oak Dermatology can also prescribe immunomodulators and steroid creams for those with moderate to severe cases. Non-steroidal ointments are also an option.

Tracking your eczema symptoms

Atopic dermatitis can go through periods of remission. Our team at Oak Dermatology can track your eczema symptoms over time and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed. We also educate patients on how to take care of their skin and what to do in case of a flare-up. This includes gentle cleansing with hypoallergenic products, using lukewarm water instead of hot, and avoiding known irritants.

Clear your skin

Eczema symptoms can be painful and make you self-conscious about your appearance. Don't suffer in silence – our team at Oak Dermatology is here to help. Dr. Jeffrey T.S. Hsu is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in treating atopic dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions. Call our clinic in Naperville, Itasca, or Joliet, IL to schedule a consultation and learn about treatment options. We provide comprehensive care and develop long-term relationships with patients.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.