Types of Eczema
Eczema is a medical skin condition that is primarily known for causing itchy dry skin all over the body. Yet, there are many misconceptions about the actual types of eczema that exist.
There are 6 main subtypes of eczema that vary in prevalence and severity that will be discussed, and the crucial differences between conditions affecting adults and children also addressed.
Existing as the most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis often begins in childhood and becomes more mild with age. The skin condition often forms around the elbows and knees, becoming rough, red, and potentially can then become infected if scratched.
Dermatologists consider it part of the ‘atopic triad’, meaning it is common for people who also have asthma and hay fever; and vise versa.
This type of eczema is generally heredity, caused by dry skin, environmental stimulus, or even an immune system deficiency.
Dyshidrotic eczema is more common in women than men, and can cause small itchy and/or painful blisters on one’s feet and hands. After the blisters have formed, they can become dry, crack, and flake turning red and irritated.
This type of eczema can be caused by dampness of the extremities, stress, exposure to metals, and other allergies.
Nummular eczema comes from the latin root word ‘nummular’ meaning coin, as the condition forms rounded and raised coin-shaped rashes on the skin.
This type of eczema can look very different from atopic dermatitis and be confused for other skin conditions, and causes extreme itchiness as its chief symptom.
Nummular eczema is generally caused by a bug bite or allergic reaction, and is more common to affect existing eczema sufferers.
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by your skin’s reaction to substances you touch and/or come into contact with.
There are two subtypes; Irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a non-toxic chemical and substances that irritate your skin such as pine needles or household cleaning products. Allergic contact dermatitis is an immune system reaction to a substance such as metal or latex.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis of the hands, face, or any part of the body that comes in physical contact with the irritant can include itchy hive-like bumps, blisters that can ooze and crust, and over long periods of time dry hardened skin.
This type of dermatitis chiefly affects the scalp, but can also affect oily areas of skin such as the face, ears, chest, and eyelids. The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include dandruff and red scaly patches of skin.
This condition may go away without medication or treatment as well as return without notice, as the causation is oily skin that can be treated with daily cleansing habits.
Stasis dermatitis is caused by internal weakened veins leaking fluid into your skin, which then causes varying amounts of swelling, itching, redness, and pain. The swelling most commonly affects the lower half of the leg, and is worsened by exercise.
This type of eczema is generally linked to varicose veins that can also lead to the development of open sores. This condition is considered to be the most severe, and occurs in people who have preexisting medical conditions involving blood circulation. The causation comes from too much blood in the legs not being about to be pumped to the heart.
Eczema is very common in children during the first 6 months to 5 years of their lives. The two most recurring subtypes are seborrheic dermatitis which is nicknamed ‘cradle cap’ for infants, and atopic dermatitis.
Eczema can appear on infants most notably on the face and scalp, but also spread to other parts of the body if dry skin occurs. The symptoms include redness and discomfort, but this can be treated with doctor recommended moisturiser or medicine.
For babies, eczema appears most often around the elbows and knees rather than the face, as they begin to rub, scratch, and become more mobile. This atopic dermatitis can more easily become infected, and the symptoms of this include pus-filled bumps or even yellow scabbing.
At this age, eczema can increasingly show up in creases on the elbows and knees, on the wrists and hands, or even around the mouth and eyelids . This is a crucial age to try to recognise environmental triggers and irritants, as ‘lichenification’, or the hardening and thickening of eczema, can occur.
At this stage, eczema is usually only confined to elbow and knee creases or appears on the hands. The majority of people either experienced eczema in this early stage of their life. This period can however indicate whether the child will grow out of their skin condition, or develop atopic dermatitis into adolescence.
Although eczema is more common in children, around 10% of the population continue to suffer with the condition past adolescence and into adulthood. In some cases, this an develop into a very serious and chronic problem. For adults the hands, face, and eyelids are the most affected areas, with flare ups occurring anywhere on the body.
Adults are also more susceptible to the 6 different subtypes of eczema that are rarer for children to develop. The exact causation and cure still remain unknown, but seeking doctor recommended treatment and determining environmental stimuli are the best methods of mitigating symptoms on a daily basis.
Learn more about eczema and find more advice and tips in our skin care hub.