Most people think there is only one type of eczema. In reality, there are several variations of the condition, each with its own causes, treatments, and manifestations. Understanding the type of eczema you have is an important step toward getting the treatment you need. Below, we’ve outlined the six major types of eczema.
If you think you have this common condition, it is important to know the types of eczema and eczema treatments available. Some forms of this rash are manageable without a doctor’s intervention, but a lot of people can benefit from specialized treatment strategies, especially when it comes to rarer, more severe forms of eczema.
If you notice eczema symptoms, odds are that you have atopic dermatitis, the most common form of the condition. This rash typically forms in the creases of the elbows and knees, starting in childhood and often disappearing in adulthood. Atopic dermatitis symptoms include small bumps, which can leak fluid when scratched, and the affected skin areas may turn lighter, darker, or get thicker than the surrounding skin. This type of eczema is caused by a variety of factors, including dry skin, genetic predisposition, immune system deficiencies, and environmental triggers.
Eczema caused solely by contact with certain substances is known as contact dermatitis. This condition manifests as red, irritated skin, and it can be caused by the immune system’s reaction to an irritant (an allergen) or interaction with an irritating chemical substance. Common causes include bleach, nickel, detergents, latex, certain soaps and perfumes, tobacco smoke, and some skin care products. While contact dermatitis can look similar to atopic dermatitis, it is more likely to develop fluid-filled blisters.
This type of eczema is characterized by where it forms on the body: on the hands and feet. The rash appears as fluid-filled blisters, most often on the toes, fingers, palms, and soles of the feet, and they can itch and hurt. Most dyshidrotic eczema is caused by allergies, but it can also be the result of stress, excessively damp feet and hands, and exposure to some substances, like nickel and cobalt.
Similar to atopic dermatitis, neurodermatitis results in scaly, thick patches of skin that can appear anywhere on the body. Most commonly, it occurs on the legs, arms, scalp, the bottoms of the feet, backs of the hands, genitals, and the back of the neck. This severe form of eczema often appears in people who already have other forms of the condition or psoriasis. Doctors are unsure of its exact cause, but many think stress is a powerful trigger.
Nummular eczema is characterized by its distinctive, coin-shaped rash. Round spots form on the skin, and they are often itchier than other forms of eczema. Most of the time, nummular eczema is triggered by an allergic reaction to certain metals or chemicals, or it can be caused by an insect bite. Dry skin is also a common cause.
This severe form of eczema occurs in people who have significant blood flow problems, especially in the lower legs. It occurs when fluid leaks out of weakened veins and into the skin, causing extreme swelling, redness, pain, and itching. Open sores may develop on the lower legs and on the tops of the feet, and the legs themselves may ache. People with stasis dermatitis are also likely to have varicose veins, which may have dry, itchy skin.