So you reckon you have eczema? But you know there’s more to it than just an umbrella term.
You have a unique condition and you’ll want answers as to what exactly is going on with your body.
There are many types of eczema. So, find out what type you have. This will help you identify what triggers it, and what are the best treatments for you.
While it may not be instantly clear to you what type you have, there are eight main types of eczema. We discuss them below.
You can have different types on various areas of your body. Or you may have a mixture that doesn’t seem to fit one of these categories so neatly.
But with the help of the information below, you may be able to quickly identify one subcategory of eczema and then understand the triggers and remedies.
But first, lets look at the best creams for eczema.
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While each of the types of eczema are unique, tips for management for eczema as a whole remain effective. Moisturizing, avoiding severe temperature shifts and fragrance-free, oil based lotions can lessen the effects of all types of eczema. Knowing your specific type can definitely help a doctor or dermatologist prescribe a medication that is right for you and direct you into reading about the right types of at-home/environmental treatments. When you read patient stories online it is important to note what type of eczema they have as something that didn’t work for them may still work for you if your subcategories are different.
This is the most common form of eczema and tends to affect people with asthma, a family history of eczema or hay fever. Though this is the trend you do not have to have experienced one of these prior ailments to have this type of eczema. It usually is seen from childhood onward but can start rarely in adulthood as well. The rates for children are 10-20% encountering this form of eczema at some point. Atopic Dermatitis is also the typical “baby eczema,” mentioned in other articles.
The prevalence of AD is increasing in children and while scientists are not sure why the numbers are climbing, they have some theories. Colder temperatures and increased levels of pollution in urban areas are thought to contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing AD according to the American Association of Dermatology. Many people who had AD as an infant and continue to have it into adulthood also have hand eczema as well.
Where it is: face (often cheeks of infants), hands, feet, inner elbows, back of knees, nape of neck (in adults that continue to have this it can cover a good portion of the body)
Triggers for this type: soap, rough clothing, household chemicals, food or dust mite allergies
Common treatment: includes environmental changes like shorter baths (5-10 minutes), moisturizing, petroleum jelly applications (it is thick, fragrance-free and inexpensive to continuously replace), and sensitive laundry detergent.
This common form of eczema affects the hands and is especially common in people who do a lot of manual labour or expose the skin to harsh chemicals regularly. It is characterized by cracks in the skin of the hands and intensely dry areas in the webbing between the fingers.
Where it is: the hands
Triggers for this type: avoid heavy chemicals in dish soap, hand sanitizers, anything you regularly bathe your hands in. Preservatives in topical substances applied to the hands are often the culprits for most people’s hand eczema.
Common treatment: find a moisturizer that has low water content, as most commercial lotions won’t work. Try Vaseline, Shea butter, olive or coconut oil.
Contact Dermatitis is the wider term for hand eczema that appears on other parts of the body. Unlike AD this is caused by a substance directly coming into contact with you and not a unprovoked reoccurring instance. This is one of the easiest types of eczema to diagnose because the patient normally recognizes the sudden appearance of the rash and attributes it to something new they have introduced to their skin. It is more difficult to diagnose in people who are so often introduced to their trigger that they no longer think of it as a contact eczema. It’s important when determining what type of eczema you have to rule out Contact Dermatitis first by removing substances that frequently or recently have come in contact with your skin. Once you have determined whether or not a product causes your eczema then you can narrow down an appropriate treatment.
Where it is: Any area in contact directly with the trigger
Triggers for this type: Nickel, poison ivy, harsh cosmetics, or any substance that triggers the allergic reaction (usually a product you haven’t been using long term)
Common treatment: removal of the trigger, time for healing and moisturizers
This form of eczema is most commonly known as dandruff caused by eczema and can be mistaken for psoriasis that often affects the scalp. Some would consider Seborhheic dermatitis as separate entity from eczema but as the treatment is similar to that of eczema they are often grouped together. Those who suffer from this usually have oily skin and the flakes that appear look oily or wet. Burning sensations, red areas and itching are all trademark signs of Seborhheic Dermatitis. In infants this type of eczema can be mistaken for diaper rash.
Where it is: usually the scalp but also: below breasts, in or surrounding the groin, around the bellybutton, under arms, in the center of the chest or legs.
Triggers for this type: the direct cause is unknown but certain factors can increase your risk like (rosacea, eating disorders, epilepsy, acne, psoriasis, heart attack, stroke, alcoholism or depression)
Common treatment: over the counter dandruff shampoos, applying mineral oil to the affected areas, sunlight on the affected areas, antifungal products, sulfur-infused solutions, or corticosteroid lotions.
This is extremely similar to hand eczema except that blisters are present on your hands and feet. Scratching these blisters may lead to skin thickening and it is advised the patient refrain from itching as much as possible. This condition is also referred to as pomphloyx and is more common in women than men for unknown reasons. Blisters are often reoccurring, lasting roughly 3 weeks per individual wound. This type of eczema usually involves less environmental changes and more visits to the doctor for medications and treatment.
Where it is: solely the hands (fingers and palms) and feet (toes and soles)
Triggers for this type: causes for this type are unknown but flare-ups tend to occur in specific times of the year
Common treatments: Usual fixes include cold compresses, oral or topical steroids. An at-home remedy is wrapping the area in plastic wrap as this can aid moisture absorption. If pomphloyx is harsh and reoccurring your doctor may suggest special light therapy or Botulinum toxin injections.
Circular red splotches appearing on the skin characterize this type of eczema. These sites of eczema often appear after an injury to the skin like a burn or insect bite. Those with sensitive skin are more susceptible but science so far cannot account for the distinct gender differences in the number and age of patients. Men are most likely to suffer from this type of eczema and usually cite experiencing it in their late 50’s to 60’s while women typically report it in their late teens.
Where it is: legs, back of hands, forearms, lower back and hips
Triggers for this type: the initial cause is unknown but exposure to nickel, formaldehyde, and cold, crisp air can definitely worsen the effects. Those who have poor blood flow or swelling in the legs are more at risk to develop this type of eczema. Also the medications Isotretinoin (used for acne) and Interferon can cause this type of eczema.
Common treatments: Another type of eczema where seeing a dermatologist or physician is necessary. Some common treatments include medicated dressings, light therapy, using a humidifier in the bedroom, and oral or topical steroids.
This is the most similar type of eczema to Atopic Dermatitis and usually affects areas that are under a lot of stress from rubbing and pressure. It tends to hit in patches to highly stressed skin areas and become thickened and discolored. Since it affects the body in patches the surrounding skin outside of the designated area can be completely healthy and look no different.
Where it is: nape of the neck, ankles, back of hands, wrists, inner feet, scalp and shoulders
Triggers for this type: stress, unusual pressure and rubbing to the affected area, or small wounds to the area followed by rubbing
Common treatments: anti-itch creams like cortisone can help you avoid breaking the skin of the affected area and continuing the cycle of skin thickening, Unna boots (when feet are affected area) and greasy, odorless moisturizers.
This type of eczema is easily spotted by its connection with problems with blood flow through veins. Varicose veins are the prime culprits for this type of eczema as the weakened veins leak blood under the skin resulting in a red, irritated swelling. Permanent changes to the skin can occur as tiny scar tissues develop under the skin around the area.
Where it is: Usually the lower legs, anywhere where varicose veins are present
Triggers for this type: This type of eczema isn’t environmentally triggered but a visual representation of the varicose veins lying underneath the skin and habitually bursting.
Common treatments: Pressure stockings can help avoid these veins from bursting under the skin, elevating the feet, Unna boots and eventually varicose vein surgery.
Tips for managing eczema
While each type of eczema is unique, here are some useful tips for managing eczema as a whole.
– Moisturise your skin
– Avoid severe temperature shifts
– Use fragrance-free, oil based lotions
These can lessen the effects of all types of eczema.
Knowing your specific type can help a doctor or dermatologist prescribe a medication that is right for you and direct you into reading about the right types of at-home/environmental treatments.
When you read sufferer stories online, note what type of eczema they have. Something that didn’t work for them may still work for you if type of eczema subcategory is different.