Is foot eczema contagious? We understand: eczema is a tricky condition, both to live with and to treat. And if you live with family or a partner, it won’t just affect your confidence. It can make you wonder whether you might be unwittingly giving others the condition, too.
The good news is that eczema of the feet isn’t contagious. That being said, how we do catch it is a mystery, which is something we’ll explore later. But before we get on to that point, we’ve got some useful information that can help you control eczema.
First things first, we can help you identify your condition, and find out whether you have eczema, psoriasis or ringworm. Finding out exactly which condition you have is essential because it means that you can tailor your treatment and stand the best chance of fighting off breakouts.
Not only that, but we’ve also got detailed information on whether eczema blisters are contagious, whether blisters can spread, and how you can go about treating your eczema too. So read on to find out everything you might need to know about foot eczema and treatment.
Table of Contents:
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a dry skin condition, which is also known as dermatitis. Unlike many other skin conditions, the exact symptoms and appearance of skin affected by eczema/dermatitis can differ between different patients. This leads to it being confused with other common dry skin conditions such as psoriasis and ringworm, which we will address shortly.
It typically affects children. As many as one in five children will have eczema, but only one in twelve adults will suffer from the condition. Many people who had it when they were a child or teenager will have experienced the condition gradually disappearing as they grew older. But that being said, there is always the chance that it will recur later on in life.
The precise cause of eczema is unclear. It does not seem to be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. But it does seem to have a link to our genetics since it can be passed down in families.
It can be triggered by different environmental factors like temperature, the weather, different soaps and washing powders and so on. The variety of triggers can make it difficult for somebody to avoid triggering the condition.
Because of the variety of triggers which can cause eczema, our best guess is that it is caused by an overactive response of the body’s immune system to a known or suspected ‘irritant’ on the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body: the hands, the feet, the face, legs, and arms.
What Does Foot Eczema Look Like?
It has many symptoms, each of which you will have experienced at some point if you have the condition. The more severe the flare-up, the more of these symptoms you will experience, and the more areas they might affect.
Starting with the most common, here is a list of symptoms:
- It results in an itching feeling, which can vary in intensity and its precise nature. During the beginning of a flare-up, an eczema sufferer might feel a slight tingling sensation in their feet. This is the first sign that a flare-up is about to start. But as the flare-up gets worse, this itchiness can become intense and impossible to ignore. Once scratched, the itch will be ‘satisfied’ for just a few seconds before coming back. And, like an itch that won’t go away, the area will become tender quickly if you keep coming back to scratch it.
- Skin affected by eczema looks dry, just like any other area of the skin that hasn’t been moisturized in a while. This dryness will at first only affect a small patch of skin, not a wide area.
- One of the main reasons why it is so easily confused with other conditions is that it results in a red rash on your foot. This red rash typically only appears when the flare-up becomes quite bad, rather than at the very beginning.
- The skin becomes scaly.This is the final stage that you only see in the most severe of breakouts. The skin has dried out and been scratched enough to become raw, and the skin to start coming away. At this point, you will also notice sores along the affected area.
Eczema vs. Psoriasis: Which Do I Have?
Eczema and psoriasis are two very similar skin conditions, with similar symptoms and appearance. But they are subtly different, so it is essential that you find out which you have.
If you don’t want to go to the doctor to have them find out, here is a quick guide to determining which skin condition you have:
- Psoriasis can cause silvery scales on top of the affected area, which will only appear red.
- The skin becomes thicker and more inflamed with psoriasis than it does when you have eczema, causing it to stand out from the rest of your skin.
- Psoriasis causes itching, but it can also create an unpleasant and painful stinging sensation.
If you don’t think that this guide is clear on the differences between the two conditions, you are right! Eczema and psoriasis are quite tricky to tell apart, even for medical professionals. Not only that, but scientists are not all too sure as to what causes psoriasis either.
Nevertheless, eczema and psoriasis can both be treated with similar medications. Topical treatments for both include corticosteroids, retinoids, anthralin and more general moisturizing creams. Besides these, you can take oral medications like Vitamin D and anti-inflammatories which can help with the symptoms.
These medications can help tackle both eczema and psoriasis, so even if you aren’t too sure which you have, these over the counter medications could help. If you do need to know which condition you have, consult a physician.
Eczema or Ringworm: What’s The Difference?
Ringworm is another condition that can be confused with eczema. When found on the feet, ringworm is known as athlete’s foot. It’s less similar to eczema than psoriasis. But mild ringworm and mild eczema can appear similar.
Here’s a brief rundown of what ringworm is, and how you can tell it apart from eczema:
- Mild ringworm and eczema both affect small patches of skin. They both also appear red and will itch in a way you just can’t quite scratch. However, ringworm appears in a characteristic circular pattern- hence the name. It typically does not appear this shape, although one particular kind (named ‘discoid’ eczema) does.
- It is a genetic condition triggered by environmental conditions. Ringworm is caused by fungal infection (not worms)! As such, you won’t notice that it is flaring up when the weather changes or when you change which washing powder you buy.
- Instead, you’re more likely to catch it from walking barefoot at the swimming pool (for instance). That’s because unlike eczema, ringworm is contagious.
Again, a dermatologist or podiatrist can tell you which skin condition you have quite quickly. So if you need to know which condition you have, go to the doctor.
Are Eczema Blisters Contagious?
The question of ‘are eczema blisters contagious?’ is an important one. After all, if you have eczema, you don’t want to give it to anybody else. And if you live with a partner or family member who does have eczema, it would be nice to know that you can’t catch it. So is it contagious? Can you catch eczema from somebody else?
No, it’s not possible to catch it from somebody. If you come into contact with somebody else’s eczema, there is no way for you to develop eczema yourself unless you already would have. It is therefore different to ringworm, which is a skin condition that can be caught from others.
It develops as the body’s own reaction to an irritant and is driven by the immune system. So it isn’t caused by a fungus, bacteria or virus. Nor is it caused by a parasite. So, in other words, there is no way for it to pass from one person to another that we know of. So, even if you developed it after coming into contact with somebody who already has it, there’s no way that you could have ‘caught’ it. You cannot catch foot eczema like you can catch athlete’s foot.
The only way that eczema can in any way become contagious is if the blisters become infected. Once it becomes so severe as to cause blisters and bleeding sores, these sores can become individually infected- not with eczema, but other infections. It is possible to catch these infections on contact, like with any other wound.
Can Eczema Blisters Spread?
Eczema can spread, but it’s not inevitable that it will. It will not spread because it is contagious, but because the triggers that caused your eczema continue to affect you. And in particular, if your condition has developed into blisters, it can spread even faster. Here’s a little information on when and how it might spread.
Eczema blisters can spread if you continue to scratch the affected area. This is what can cause blisters in the first place. So it stands to reason that if you continue to scratch around existing blisters, you can create more. Of course, not scratching your eczema is easier said than done, so you may find that you inadvertently spread it just by scratching the skin.
Similarly, if it is caused by a particular trigger, it will spread if that trigger is not adequately dealt with. An example might be if you keep wearing clothes that are washed using washing powder that you know triggers your eczema. This would cause your blisters to spread continually until your entire body is covered in sores.
Better than scratching the skin or exposing it to triggers is to use topical creams such as corticosteroids. Creams like these will help to numb the continual itch you feel on your feet or around your toes. They can also help to moisturize your dry skin.
Eczema Treatment: Can I Get Rid Of Eczema Permanently?
Before moving on to consider the ways you can treat the condition, it’s important to say that there is no way of curing eczema. There is no magic bullet which will defeat all of your eczema symptoms, and stop them from ever recurring. So before you read on, remember that nothing in our list of treatments is a permanent ‘cure’.
But eczema most definitely can be treated. You can make your symptoms far less severe, and make breakouts less common too.
Here is a brief list of treatments that might work for you:
- Emollients, which are better known as moisturizers, are a key treatment. Moisturizers will keep your skin soft and better protected from triggers, meaning that they are an effective treatment for trying to stop breakouts before they start.
- If you already have a severe breakout, corticosteroids are an excellent choice. Corticosteroids are topical creams that are applied to the affected area. They will stop the skin from itching and sting as much.
- Anti-inflammatories can also help to reduce itching, especially when combined with corticosteroids. If you didn’t know, millions of Americans use anti-inflammatories to tackle allergies like hay fever. So they’re easily available online and over the counter.
- Natural treatments like essential oils can be effective on their own, or you can combine them to make a homemade topical ointment for your feet. Some essential oils have an anti-inflammatory effect, and others help to restore lost moisture to the skin.
At least one of these treatments should work for you. And there are prices to suit every budget, too, so there is something for everyone when it comes to eczema treatments.