Eczema is often used as a blanket term. It describes different types of skin rashes. Eczema is not one skin condition but several, divided into categories. rashes. Though the are different types of eczema, they all have few things in common. This involves red, itchy, and inflamed skin can become both uncomfortable and embarrassing. They’re also all chronic with periodic flares, and they share many treatments.
Eczema is not contagious. You can’t “catch it” from someone else. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but research shows a link between genes and environmental triggers. When an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body “switches on” the immune system, it produces inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes the symptoms common to most types of eczema.
There are several different types of eczema that you should know about. Because knowing the type of eczema you have can help you avoid your triggers and get the best treatment. Though there are several distinct types of eczema, it is possible to have more than one type at a time. All types of eczema cause itching and redness, but some may also cause your skin to blister, “weep,” or peel.
What are the types of eczema?
There are several different types of eczema you should know about. These includes:
1. Atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is often called “eczema” and is sometimes also called “atopic eczema.” This is the most common form of eczema, and the one most people think of when the condition is mentioned. Eczema tends to run in families.
It’s more often seen in babies often in the first year life. Usually, it’s clustered at the armpits and elbows, knees, and neck or face area. Children with this condition are more likely to also have food sensitivity.
Though the exact cause of atopic is unknown. It occurs when the immune system over reacts to an allergen or irritant inside or outside the body. Atopic dermatitis improves at times and also get worse later (when you may experience what’s called a “flare”).
No matter where it appears, AD is often very itchy. Infants may rub their skin against bedding or carpeting to relieve the itch. In children of all ages, the itch can be so intense that a child cannot sleep. Scratching can lead to a skin infection. The skin also becomes dry, scaly, red and there may be cracks behind the ears.
Because atopic dermatitis can be long lasting, it is important to learn how to take care of the skin. Treatment and good skin care can alleviate much of the discomfort.
2. Contact dermatitis
This form of dermatitis has symptoms like atopic dermatitis but with one clear difference. People with contact dermatitis have their symptoms triggered by exposure to a specific substance. That substance can vary from person to person.
Children with a parent who has contact dermatitis are more likely to develop it. The reaction can be irritant or it can be an allergic reaction. Contact dermatitis usually appears on the hands, or parts of the body that touched the irritant/allergen. Managing contact dermatitis is about avoiding irritants and protecting the skin barrier.
The most common irritants include:
- Industrial chemicals such as paints
- Detergents such as bleach
- Tobacco smoke
- Certain fabrics such as wool
- Acidic Foods
- Skin care products that contains alcohol (but not cetyl alcohol)
- Some soaps and fragrances
- Allergens such as animal dander, pollens
3. Dyshidrotic eczema
Dyshidrotic eczema is a condition that produces small, itchy blisters. They are usually on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet. Again, coming into contact with irritants can cause a flare. While all forms of eczema can be severe, dyshidrotic eczema can actually be debilitating. If there are blisters on your feet make it hard to walk or hand blisters get in the way of daily tasks or work.
Triggers includes; stress, allergies (such as hay fever), moist hands and feet, or exposure to nickel (in metal-plated jewelry). Also contact with cobalt (found in metal-plated objects, and in pigments used in paints and enamels), or chromium salts (used in the manufacturing of cement, mortar, leather, paints, and anticorrosives) may be triggers. This type of eczema is twice as common in women as it is in men.
- Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) on the fingers, hands, and feet
- Scaly, cracked skin
4. Nummular eczema – nummular dermatitis
Nummular eczema, is also known as discoid eczema and nummular dermatitis. Its a common type of eczema that can occur at any age. They typically appear on the lower legs, torso, and forearms. It looks very different than the usual eczema and can be much more difficult to treat. People who get this skin problem often see distinct, coin-shaped (nummular) or oval sores on their skin.
Nummular dermatitis often appears after a skin injury, such as a burn, abrasion (from friction), or insect bite. It can be very itchy and can be just one or many patches. Your skin can be dry, scaly skin or wet with open sores. These patches can last for weeks or months. It is thought to be “triggered” by things such as:
- Dry skin
- Injuries to the skin like insect bites
- Poor blood flow
- Bacterial conditions of the skin
- Cold climate
- Certain medications
- Atopic dermatitis
Men get nummular dermatitis more often than women get it. Men often have their first outbreak between 55 and 65 years of age. When women get it, they are usually younger. They tend to be teenagers or young adults.
Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that begins with an itch. The itch can develop anywhere on the surface of the body. Most commonly, though, an itchy patch develops on an arm, leg, or the back of the neck. It also commonly develops in the anal and genital areas. When it appears in the genital area, it often appears on the scrotum or vulva.
The itch can be so intense that a person scratches or rubs the itchy patch frequently. The itch can also come and go. For most people, the area feels itchiest when they are relaxing or sleeping. The itch causes people to scratch or rub the area while sleeping — and it can awaken someone from a sound sleep.
Quite often, the itch begins during an especially stressful time in someone’s life. Even when the stress subsides, the itch usually continues. Scratching or rubbing can change the appearance of that itchy patch.
6. Seborrheic dermatitis
Commonly known as dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of yeast and the cells on the scalp. This results in excessive shedding of the cells appearing as white flakes. However seborrheic dermatitis can also occur on the body where there are a lot of oil-producing (sebaceous) glands such as the face, arms, legs and body. It can also be mistaken for nappy rash.
This type of eczema appears as red, itchy skin and can be so bad it burns. Infections are also common. Treatment involves the use of specific creams such as antibiotics and salicylic acid to manage the yeast overgrowth and heal the skin.
People of any age can develop seborrheic dermatitis including infants (known as “cradle cap”). It is slightly more common in men than women.
Experts aren’t 100 percent sure what causes seborrheic dermatitis. But they think it may have something to do with a yeast called malassezia. Its normally in your skin’s oil secretions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Common symptoms include:
- Greasy, swollen skin
- White or yellowish crusty flakes
7. Stasis dermatitis
Stasis dermatitis is also called gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema and venous stasis dermatitis. This condition develops in people who have poor circulation. Because poor blood flow usually occurs in the lower legs, this is where stasis dermatitis often develops. It may occur in one or both legs. Stasis dermatitis can develop in other areas, but this is rare.
Stasis dermatitis is most common in the lower legs because leg veins have one-way valves, which play an important role in circulating our blood. These valves push blood up the legs. As we age, these valves can weaken and stop working properly. Some blood can leak out and pool in the legs.
Swelling around the ankle is often the first sign of stasis dermatitis. The swelling tends to clear while you sleep — and return during the day. Other early signs are discolored skin, pain, itching, redness and varicose veins.
And in more severe cases: oozing, open areas (cracking or larger ulcers) and infection.