Eczema affects around 31.6 million Americans.1 According to the National Eczema Society, it is a highly individual condition that varies from person to person, and it comes in many forms.2
Effective treatments usually differ,3 and this is the reason you need to know the specific type you have. Here are the most common types of eczema you should be aware of:
The term “atopic” means there is a hereditary tendency to develop eczema, asthma and/or hay fever. This is the most common form of eczema, affecting an estimated 9 to 30 percent of the U.S. population.4
Atopic dermatitis usually starts during childhood, typically in the first 6 months of life. Its symptoms include dry, scaly skin, redness, itching, a rash on the cheeks, arms and legs, and cracks behind the ears.5
It is a type of eczema that occurs when your skin comes into contact with irritants or allergens (called triggers),6 resulting in redness, inflammation, itchiness and/or pain. There are two kinds of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic.
The common triggers of irritant contact dermatitis are solvents, detergents, paint, pesticides, bleach and fumes. On the other hand, allergic dermatitis (also called allergic eczema) can be triggered by topical antibiotics, adhesives, fabrics and poison ivy.7
When you have small, itchy blisters on the edges of your fingers, toes, palms and soles of the feet, you may have dyshidrotic eczema. It is characterized by vesicles, which are small fluid-filled blisters. The other symptoms are itching, redness, flaking, pain and cracked or scaly skin.8
Also known as discoid eczema, this form of eczema can occur at any age. It is harder to treat, and appears differently from the common types of eczema. If you have this condition, you develop coin-shaped spots that can be very itchy. You may get dry, scaly skin and wet, open sores as well.9
This is a skin condition that usually affects individuals who have poor circulation, and typically occurs in the lower legs. You are at most risk for developing stasis dermatitis if you are over the age of 50. The common symptoms of stasis dermatitis are swelling around the ankles, redness, scaling, itching and pain. In more severe cases, oozing, cracking and ulcers in your skin may develop, and possibly lead to infection.10
If you have skin flakes on your hair, scalp, eyebrows, mustache or beard, you may have seborrheic eczema. It is commonly known as dandruff, which makes the skin fall off in flakes. One of the most common causes is dry skin, which is often a sign of omega-3 deficiency. It is also believed to be related to the overgrowth of Malassezia globosa, a yeast normally found in your skin’s oil secretion.11
Neurodermatitis generally begins with a patch of itchy skin that becomes itchier the more you scratch it. This itch-scratch cycle often causes your skin to thicken and become leathery. You can also develop raised, rough patches that are red or darker than the surrounding skin. It typically develops on your neck, wrist, forearm, thigh or ankle.12
It is crucial to know which type of eczema you have, because this will help determine the best treatment for your condition. More importantly, this will allow you to pinpoint your triggers, and manage your symptoms successfully.