Eczema is not contagious. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic itchy skin condition that has both genetic and environmental causes.
Genetic causes include a family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever and asthma. Allergies to aspirin and penicillin also tend to be common in families with atopic dermatitis.
Environmental causes include just about anything that can dry or irritate skin, such as hot dry air indoors, cold dry air outdoors, hot showers, harsh soaps or laundry detergents, scrubbing your skin with washcloths or buffpuffs when bathing and not enough moisturizing.
People with eczema do best in moderate temperatures and humidity levels, as eczema tends to flare when during the cold times of the year as well as during heat and high humidity.
Because it is very itchy, skin with eczema can get infected with bacteria from scratching, so before any treatment, your skin needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist.
If there is no infection, ezcema is frequently treated with topical steroid ointments or creams.
A word of warning here: steroid creams or ointments are not intended for use on eyelid skin, as use of steroid creams there can lead to increased intraocular pressure and cause vision problems. The best place to start for eyelid eczema is to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) several times a day. Also, nail polish, funny enough, can irritate eyelid skin as we commonly use the backs of our fingers to scratch the eyelids. If there is no resolution of eyelid eczema with petroleum jelly, see your dermatologist.
Taking steroid pills does help eczema, but we almost never use it as treatment because eczema tends to recur as soon as steroid pills are discontinued.
Controlling the environment and daily moisturizing with a fragrance-free, dye-free cream made for sensitive skin, such as Eucerin, Cetaphil, Aveeno or CeraVe helps prevent many eczema outbreaks.