Eczema not contagious — Dr Brifo
A Resident Medical Doctor, Dr Kofi Ansah Brifo, has debunked the notion that eczema, a skin condition, is contagious.
According to Dr Brifo, some people call fungal skin infections (commonly known as Afei in Ga, Ekoro in Twi, as “ENZEMA”, a term which does not exist in medicine.
Eczema on the other hand, is a dermatological condition characterised by recurrent skin itching, redness, and rash, which is often associated with extreme dryness, breaking, peeling, and thickening of the skin.
Dr Brifo, who is with the Rabito Clinic, a skin care clinic in Accra, was speaking to The Mirror last week.
He offered clarity on the causes, symptoms, treatment, preventive measures and the myth surrounding the condition.
Dr Brifo who is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in dermatology at the University of Buckingham, United Kingdom, said the most common type of eczema was atopic eczema, which is common in children and can develop from the first two months of birth.
Dr Kofi Ansah Brifo is a Resident Medical Doctor with the Rabito Clinic in Accra
Causes and Triggers
Addressing this, he said it is often associated with a genetic or family history of allergies, asthma or allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose from allergic triggers such as dust and perfume).
Dr Brifo pointed out some foods such as eggs, milk, peanuts, soya beans, wheat and seafood that could trigger the condition.
“These food triggers although can be suffered by adults are however predominately in children”, he explained.
He added that environmental factors such as direct exposure to some cleaning products (detergents and fabric softeners) and emotional stress were among other triggers.
“Other forms of dermatitis are hand eczema, contact (reaction from certain jewellery, wool, leather e.tc.), seborrheic (dandruff), asteatotic (reaction from dry humid climates) and Nummular (coin shaped eczema)”, he said.
Touching on the signs of the condition, Dr Brifo said it typically manifested as red, itchy patches on the skin and could range from mild to severe that could spread to the elbow, knee, neck and hands. Repeated itching can lead to infection with discharge of some unpleasant fluids and thickening of the skin, he said.
According to Dr Brifo, there is the need to moisturise the skin three or more times a day with products such as shea butter.
He highlighted that it was essential for patients to work closely with experts to develop a plan that addresses the specific needs of the condition. Again the dermatologist mentioned “there is the need to maintain a regular skincare routine with non-allergic causing cosmetic products, thus avoiding specific allergens were crucial for these patients.
Discussing this, Dr Brifo highlighted the importance of dispelling this misconception as it could stigmatise affected individuals.
“Eczema cannot be spread by direct contact or by any means. However, other skin conditions such as scabies (similar to a rash) are contagious”, he said.
He recommended that affected persons, parents and caregivers sought continual education and empowerment on atopic eczema from clinics or associations. He also said awareness on the condition should be intensified at all levels of care in the country.