“Eczema” is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of recurring, itchy, rashy skin disorders. If your dermatologist told you that you have eczema — or if you suspect that’s what’s behind your flares of discomfort — you may wonder what your next step is so that you can finally get some relief.
Our expert dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology start by diagnosing your itchy, red skin to ensure that you truly do have a case of eczema, and not a similar condition, such as psoriasis. Then they further break down the type or types of eczema you have, so they can design a treatment plan that addresses the root causes as well as your unpleasant symptoms.
You may have a single type of eczema, or you may have more than one. Below is a guide to the various types of eczema and their probable causes.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) affects about 9.6 million children and 16.5 million women and men in the United States, making it the most common form of eczema. Researchers believe that atopic dermatitis is inherited. because it usually first appears in infancy or childhood — often by the age of six months.
Atopic dermatitis is also associated with a gene mutation that affects the production of a protein called filaggrin, which helps to create a barrier on your skin that preserves moisture and protects against invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Without enough filaggrin, your skin is more vulnerable and liable to become overdry, flaky, and infected.
Atopic dermatitis is considered an autoimmune disease because it triggers inflammation in your skin. If you have AD, you may also have other autoimmune disorders, such as hay fever or asthma.
Contact dermatitis can occur at any age. You usually develop contact dermatitis after your skin’s exposed to an irritant or allergen.
About 80% of contact dermatitis is caused by an irritant, such as chemicals in cleaning or personal care products. The chemicals actually damage the skin. Other irritants include scratchy wool clothing, metal fixtures on clothing, and over-washing your hands.
Some contact dermatitis is a reaction to an allergen. These outbreaks usually appear a couple of days after you’ve been exposed to the allergen, such as poison ivy, because they’re a result of your body’s immune response.
Seborrheic dermatitis affects areas of your skin that have a lot of sebaceous (i.e., oil) glands. It often appears on your scalp, where it’s known as dandruff, your nose, or even your upper back.
Researchers believe that seborrheic dermatitis is triggered by an immune response to a yeast called Malassezi that lives on your skin. You’re more likely to develop a sensitivity to overgrowth of this yeast if you have a compromised immune system because of stress, hormonal changes, or a medical condition, such as HIV/AIDs.
Dyshidotic eczema is a common form of eczema that features tiny, itchy blisters on your fingers, toes, palms of your hands, and soles of your feet. This type is most common in women and men ages 20-40. Like other forms of eczema, it tends to come and go.
You may develop this type of eczema after exposure to an irritant, such as the metal nickel. Even being under too much stress or having sweaty palms can cause a flare.
If you have poor blood flow to your legs, you’re at risk for stasis dermatitis. Broken blood vessels, such as varicose veins, allow blood to pool in your vessels and leak into your skin. This process can cause swelling and discomfort in your lower legs.
Without sufficient, easy blood flow to nourish it, your skin may develop symptoms such as redness, scaliness, or discoloration. Your skin may also become thicker, harder, and bumpy looking.
Because stasis dermatitis is caused by defective blood vessels, its treatment is different from other forms of eczema. You may need to undergo varicose vein removal and take various medications to quell inflammation and possible infections.
About 12% of people develop neurodermatitis, which is characterized by small itchy patches that look leathery and tough. You’re more likely to develop neurodermatitis if you already have contact dermatitis.
Nummular eczema is more difficult to treat than other types of eczema, but it’s also quite rare. If you have nummular eczema, your skin is marked by round, coin-shaped, itchy lesions.
Find out what’s causing your eczema and get a personalized treatment plan by contacting Specialists in Dermatology in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, today. Phone the office nearest you, or use our online form.