Our skin is very delicate and prone to various painful and dangerous conditions. One common skin condition we see in people of all ages is eczema. When we think of eczema, we can almost imagine red, itchy, and dry patches on the skin, which can also be painful.
But most people don't know that eczema is not the same for everyone. It might appear similarly unappealing and is always almost equally painful, but in reality, it has many different types.
If you don't know what eczema really is and how to identify the different types of eczema, you are at the right place. Let's discuss the five most common types of eczema.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is the name of a group of skin conditions that affects more than 30 million people in the United States alone. The condition is typically characterized by dark colored, rough, and scaly patches on the skin that are sometimes crusting or oozing and may also cause swelling in the affected areas. Contrary to popular belief, eczema is not a contagious skin condition and is most often easily treatable as well. There are various types of eczema; let's learn about them in detail.
5 Types of Eczema
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Most people believe atopic dermatitis is just another word for eczema, even though eczema is a wider branch of skin conditions, and atopic dermatitis is just one of the conditions listed under it. However, this is because atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema affecting people. This problem often begins at an early age but goes milder - or sometimes even goes away by adulthood.
Most healthcare professionals believe that atopic dermatitis is a part of a "triad" along with asthma and hay fever - since people usually have all three conditions together. Moreover, children with atopic dermatitis have a higher risk of food sensitivity.
- In areas of the skin, the rash may turn darker or lighter and get thicker
- Rash often appears on creases such as elbows and knees
- Babies tend to get rashes on their cheeks and scalp
- Skin flares up with scratching
- Triggers include certain fabrics like wool, dust mites, food allergies, scabies, etc.
- Environmental triggers
- Dry skin
- Weak immune system
2. Dyshidrotic eczema
Also known as pompholyx eczema, this condition is common among adults aged less than 40 years. Dyshidrotic eczema mostly appears on the hands and feet and is a little more intense than atopic dermatitis. This condition causes the formation of small blisters on the skin.
- Small fluid-filled blisters on hands and feet, including toes, fingers, palms, and soles of the feet
- Blisters may be watery or ooze pus in serious conditions
- It may cause pain and swelling in affected areas
- Skin can crack, scale, and flake
- Blisters can get itchy
- Damp hands and feet (usually due to sweat)
- Exposure to certain substances (e.g., nickel or cobalt)
- Smoking tobacco
3. Contact Dermatitis
Another common type of eczema, contact dermatitis is characterized by red and irritated skin, usually due to coming in contact with a substance and getting an allergic reaction - hence the name. It is not contagious and is usually a short-term reaction to something.
- Red, itchy, and hyper-pigmented skin
- Skin patches that burn and sting
- Itchy bumps or hives may appear
- Over time skin becomes thick and scaly or leathery
- Fluid-filled blisters that may have a crust or ooze
It happens when you come in contact with certain substances, such as:
- Poison Ivy or other poisonous plants
- Soaps and perfumes
- Skincare products or makeup
- Tobacco smoke
Very similar to atopic dermatitis, this condition also causes thick, scaly patches on the skin, but it is not limited to children and is usually chronic itching and scaling of the skin. It typically occurs in only certain areas of the body.
- Thick and scaly patches on the skin in areas such as forearms, neck, scalp, groin area, and backs of the hands and feet
- Patches can be extremely itchy, especially during sleep
- Itching the patches may cause bled- which can also cause an infection
- Scratching makes the skin itchier - and hence the condition leads to chronic itching
This condition usually occurs when people already have another type of eczema or skin condition called psoriasis. However, doctors still don't know what exactly causes the problem and some believe stress might be a trigger.
5. Seborrheic dermatitis
This condition causes scaly and oily patches on the skin, which cause flakes to appear on the skin. The condition is linked to sebaceous or oil-producing glands in the body; hence, the patches also often only appear in areas with more sebaceous glands.
This condition is more common in infants and is called "cradle cap" when it affects them. However, it can appear later in teenage or adulthood. For adults, this can become an ongoing problem.
- Oily patches with dandruff-like flakes and white or yellow scales on the skin
- Mostly found in areas with oil-producing glands such as the hairline, armpits, upper back, under the breast, mid-chest, and near the groin
- People with darker skin may experience darker patches on their skin; however, for white people, the patches are lighter than their skin
There is a combination of environmental and genetic factors that cause the development of seborrheic dermatitis. The most common triggers are stress and illnesses that set off inflammatory reactions in the skin. This leads to the oil-producing glands to kick into overdrive and creating Malassezia yeast, which lives on the skin's surface. As the yeast multiplies rapidly, the immune system reacts and causes a series of changes in the skin, such as the development of patches.
Other triggers include:
- hormonal changes
- cold, dry weather
- harsh detergents or chemicals
- certain medical conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, acne, HIV, and psoriasis
- medicines such as interferon and lithium
Red, Itchy, Scaly Skin? Consult a Dermatologist!
Red, itchy, scaly skin is usually a result of eczema - but what type of eczema can it be? For that, we hope the information mentioned above will be helpful. We discussed various types of eczema, so we hope you will be able to differentiate and identify what might be causing your skin to flare up.
As soon as you see something out of the ordinary, you must get in touch with a dermatologist to start treatment. This will help you ensure that the problem doesn't exceed or become a recurring issue for you. Moreover, if you want a reputable dermatologist to help you with this condition - you can check out Suncoast Skin and their top dermatologists who specialize in treating eczema!
SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Pete / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz, Winter Haven, Largo, Hudson, Leesburg, Riverview, Brooksville, Clearwater, Ocala, Palm Harbor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Seminole, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.