Eczema is the name given to a group of conditions in which the skin becomes red, itchy and inflamed. There are multiple types of eczema, however none are contagious. The exact cause of eczema is not known but it is believed to be a result of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. Irritants or allergens cause the immune system to respond and produce the inflammation which causes symptoms.
Types of Eczema
There are several distinct types of eczema but it’s possible to have more than one type at a time. They all cause itching and redness, but some may also cause the skin to blister, ooze, or peel. Common types are as follows:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
This is a chronic and inflammatory type of eczema. It occurs when the immune system becomes very active in response to an internal or external allergen or irritant. Common symptoms are dry, scaly skin, redness, itching, cracks behind the ears, a rash on the cheeks, arms and legs and open sores.
Atopic dermatitis usually begins in childhood and symptoms often appear within the first six months of a child’s life. The condition may improve at times and get worse at others.
It is believed that people with a family history of atopic dermatitis, asthma and/or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis themselves.
This form of eczema occurs when irritating substances or allergens touch the skin, causing it to burn, itch and come red. The most common forms are irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis usually appears on the part of the body that touched the allergen.
Solvents, industrial chemicals, detergent, paints, bleach, soaps, fragrances, and wool are all common irritants. Contact dermatitis is indicated by redness and rash, burning and swelling and blisters that ooze or develop a crust.
This condition produces small, itchy blisters on the soles of the feet, edges of the fingers, toes, and palms. It has a range of triggers including stress, allergies, moist hands and feet and exposure to nickel, cobalt or chromium salts.
Dyshidrotic eczema is twice as common in women as it is in men. Symptoms include small fluid-filled blisters on the fingers, hands, and feet, itching, redness, flaking, scaly, cracked skin and pain.
Also known as discoid eczema or nummular dermatitis, this looks different from usual eczema. It can also be much more difficult to treat. The condition presents as coin-shaped spots on the skin which can be very itchy. It can be caused by insect bites, reactions to inflammation or dry skin. Symptoms include round spots, itching, dry and scaly skin and wet, open sores.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic condition which appears in areas of the body where there are a lot of oil-producing glands like the upper back, nose, and scalp. Genes and hormones play a role in its occurrence along with microorganisms like yeast. Seborrheic dermatitis is not caused by allergies. People with compromised immune or nervous systems seem to be at greater risk of developing it.
Seborrheic dermatitis often appears on the scalp and symptoms include dry flakes and yellow, greasy scales with reddened skin. Patients can also develop the condition on other oily areas of their body.
This is a unique form of eczema which occurs when there is a problem with circulation to the legs. Other common names are gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis. It happens when there is restricted blood flow in the veins and pressure develops, causing fluid to leak out of the veins and into the skin.
Symptoms include swelling around the ankles, redness, scaling, itching, pain and sometimes oozing, ulcers and infection.