Not all eczema looks the same. In fact, many people don’t realize there are actually different types of eczema — seven, to be exact! Understanding which form of eczema you have can help you better understand what may be causing your rash and how to best treat and prevent flare-ups.
That’s why today we’re covering the seven types of eczema - from atopic dermatitis to stasis dermatitis and everything in between.
The 7 Types of Eczema & How to Identify Them
When you think of eczema, you likely think of atopic dermatitis — it’s the most common form! The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, but it’s thought to be a combination of genes and environment. It’s common for people with this form of eczema to have or develop asthma and/or hay fever.
Atopic dermatitis often begins early in childhood. Some children will grow out of the skin condition, but others won't. Atopic dermatitis can also come and go over time, and it's possible to develop it as an adult.
- Often located in the creases of your elbows or knees, but can be located anywhere
- Dry, itchy, scaly skin
There are two different forms of contact dermatitis. One is irritant contact dermatitis, which involves exposure of the skin to an irritant. While the exposure results in a rash, but it doesn't create an allergic reaction.
With allergic contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction occurs after exposure to a substance. The reaction typically takes one or two days to show up as a rash on the skin.
- Possibly burning or blistering
- Hives or blistering
People who work with chemicals daily are at a higher risk of irritant contact dermatitis. Examples include mechanics, chemists, healthcare workers, custodians, etc. However, everyone is at risk for contact dermatitis! Detergents, shampoos, soaps, household cleaners, including bleach, nickel-containing jewelry, and cosmetics are examples of irritants that cause irritant contact dermatitis. Poison ivy is an example of an allergen that causes allergic contact dermatitis.
Neurodermatitis is very similar to atopic dermatitis, although instead of being widespread across the body, it’s typically confined to one or two areas. Neurodermatitis is most commonly located on the feet, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and scalp.
- Thick, leathery patches
- Scales and discoloration (often red, brown, or gray)
Neurodermatitis most often occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. It occurs more often in men than women — and more frequently in people with contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Psoriasis, anxiety disorders, and a family history of eczema, allergies and asthma are all risk factors for developing neurodermatitis.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a common form of eczema that causes blisters on the hands and feet. Instead of short flare-ups, it typically comes and goes over extended periods of time. Dyshidrotic eczema is also sometimes called pompholyx, foot-and-hand eczema, palmoplantar eczema, or vesicular eczema.
- Blisters (called vesicles)
- Located on the palms of hands, soles of feet, as well as the sides of your fingers and toes
- Itching, burning, pain
- Peeling skin after blisters heal
Dyshidrotic eczema is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 40. It is common in people who already have another form of eczema. Nickel, stress, hay fever, hot and humid weather, and sweaty palms are all triggers. Dyshidrotic eczema often runs in families.
Nummular eczema involves itchy, circular patches of skin. This type of eczema can look like psoriasis, ringworm, or even other forms of eczema. It can appear anywhere on the body, but is common on the torso, your arms and legs, and well as your hands.
- Circular rash
- Often very itchy and may burn
- May ooze liquid, or may have crusted over
- May appear scaly
- May appear red, pinkish, or brown
Dry skin, insect bites, scrapes, or burns are possible triggers of nummular eczema. Unlike most forms of eczema, the nummular variety is more common in men than women!
Seborrheic dermatitis causes chronic red, flaky skin on oily parts of the body, like the scalp, upper chest and back, and face. It’s also commonly referred to as dandruff.
- Flaking skin
- Oily, scaly patches of skin
- Redness and swelling
- Commonly located (in adults) in the creases of the nose and in the eyebrows, on the upper chest or back, in the armpits, or in the groin area. Commonly located on infants’ scalps or bottoms.
Seborrheic dermatitis is most common among men between 30 and 60 years of age — and infants. When the skin condition occurs with infants, it’s typically in the form of cradle cap and will eventually go away on its own.
Stasis dermatitis occurs due to poor circulation in the lower legs — when the valves in the veins weaken and leak fluid, causing water and blood cells to pool in the legs. Stasis dermatitis is also referred to as gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, or venous stasis dermatitis.
- Orange-brown spots of discoloration
- Ankle swelling
- Skin redness (may appear brown, purple, or gray in darker skin tones)
- Itching, scaling, and dryness
- Located on the feet or lower legs (one or both sides)
- Heavy feeling after sitting or standing for an extended amount of time
- Open sores (venous ulcers) on the tops of the feet or lower legs
Women over the age of 50 are most at risk for stasis dermatitis. Weakened valves in the veins can be a result of aging, but high blood pressure, varicose veins, obesity, kidney and heart disease, sedentary lifestyle, multiple pregnancies, and history of blood clots also put you at risk. Because of some of the potential causes of stasis dermatitis, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to rule out any serious underlying conditions.
Every form of eczema is unique — in the way it looks, why it develops, and sometimes how to treat it. If you’re unsure of the type of eczema you’re dealing with, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider or trusted dermatologist to help you identify the form of eczema and an appropriate treatment plan.
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