6 types of eczema: Symptoms and causes

Posted: May 25, 2020 at 10:46 pm

Eczema typically causes areas of a persons skin to become inflamed, itchy, and red. There are several different types of eczema, including atopic eczema, contact dermatitis, and discoid eczema.

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects over 30 million people in the United States. In general, eczema can affect the skin by causing:

Eczema is not contagious, which means that a person cannot catch it or pass it onto another person.

In this article, we look at six different types of eczema, their symptoms, and what causes them. We also cover diagnosis, treatment, and how to prevent flare-ups.

Atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, is the most common type of eczema.

Symptoms often present in childhood and can range from mild to severe. A child is more likely to develop atopic dermatitis if one of their parents has had it.

Children with atopic dermatitis have a higher risk of food sensitivity. They are also more likely to develop asthma and hay fever.

Some children may grow out of atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis tends to cause patches of dry skin that can become itchy, red, and inflamed. These patches often appear in the creases of the elbows and knees and on the face, neck, and wrists.

Scratching the patches can worsen the itching and make the skin ooze clear fluid. Over time, repeated scratching or rubbing can cause the patch of skin to thicken. This is known as lichen simplex chronicus (LSC).

People with atopic dermatitis usually experience flare-ups, where the eczema gets worse for a time. Triggers of flare-ups include:

Some people experience a skin reaction when they come into contact with certain substances. This is known as contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis can include:

A person with atopic dermatitis has an increased risk of contact dermatitis.

There are two types of contact dermatitis:

Irritant contact dermatitis can result from repeated exposure to a substance that irritates the skin, such as:

People who regularly use or work with these substances have a higher risk of developing contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a persons immune system reacts to a particular substance, known as an allergen.

A person might not react to an allergen the first time they come into contact with it. However, once they develop an allergy, they will usually have it for life.

Possible allergens include:

Dyshidrotic eczema, or pompholyx eczema, typically appears in adults under 40 years of age. It usually occurs on the hands and feet and has characteristic symptoms, including intense itching and the appearance of small blisters.

In some cases, the blisters can become large and watery. The blisters may become infected too, which can lead to pain and swelling. They may also ooze pus.

Blisters typically clear up within a few weeks. Following this, the skin often becomes dry and cracked, which may lead to painful skin fissures.

It is unclear what causes dyshidrotic eczema. However, it is more common in people who have:

People who work with certain chemicals or have their hands immersed in water throughout the day are also at greater risk of developing dyshidrotic eczema.

Other triggers include emotional stress and changes in the weather.

Dyshidrotic eczema may be a form of contact dermatitis. People with dyshidrotic eczema also tend to experience flare-ups from time to time.

Discoid eczema, or nummular eczema, is recognizable due to the disc-shaped patches of itchy, red, cracked, and swollen skin that it causes.

The discs typically appear on the lower legs, torso, and forearms. Sometimes, the center of the disc clears up, leaving a ring of red skin.

Discoid eczema can occur in people of any age, including children.

As with other types of eczema, the causes of discoid eczema are not fully understood. However, known triggers and risk factors include:

Varicose eczema is also known as venous, gravitational, or stasis eczema. It is common in older adults with varicose veins.

Getting older and being less active can weaken the veins in a persons legs. This can lead to both varicose veins and varicose eczema.

Varicose eczema typically affects the lower legs and symptoms can include:

The skin on the lower leg may become fragile, so it is important to avoid scratching and picking at the spots and blisters.

Asteatotic eczema, also called xerotic eczema and eczema craquel, generally only affects people over 60 years of age. This may be due to the skin becoming drier as a person ages.

Asteatotic eczema typically occurs on the lower legs, but it can also appear on other parts of the body. Symptoms include:

As with other types of eczema, the causes of asteatotic eczema are unknown, but triggers can include:

People who experience symptoms of eczema should see a doctor or dermatologist. Eczema can indicate a new allergy, so it is important to determine what is causing the reaction.

Eczema can also increase the likelihood of staph infections and have a severe effect on a persons mental health. A doctor can recommend a treatment plan to manage symptoms and flare-ups.

There is no specific test to diagnose most types of eczema. The doctor will want to know the individuals personal and family medical history. They will also ask about recent exposures to potential allergens and irritants. It is essential that people let the doctor know if they have hay fever or asthma.

The doctor may also ask about:

A physical examination of the rash will help the doctor to diagnose which type of eczema it is.

The doctor may also perform a patch test, which involves pricking a persons skin with a needle that contains potential irritants and allergens. A patch test can determine whether or not someone has contact dermatitis.

There is no cure for eczema, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and trying to prevent further flare-ups.

Some treatment options for eczema include:

Some general tips that may help to prevent eczema flare-ups include:

People with eczema will also benefit from working with their doctor or dermatologist to identify what triggers or worsens their symptoms. Avoiding specific triggers or allergens can help to prevent or minimize flare-ups.

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6 types of eczema: Symptoms and causes

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